Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Study Time: Love Thyself

How are you? I hope you are enjoying my blog so far.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am a youth leader at Living Springs International Church. This means I get to do the fun stuff like trips to the cinema, the Friday night youth club and organising our annual Stepping up Youth Conference (I will share more details about the event later). But the role also comes with the very serious responsibility of teaching the truth about the Word of God and moving the youth to live a life pleasing to the Lord.

One of the things I vowed to do when starting this blog was to cast my lessons as far afield as they would reach, because as any worker in the house of God, I would like what I do to expand beyond the confines of the four walls of the church. So every so often, I will be posting up my lesson plans, and this series will be called Study Time.

Disclaimer 1: As a believer in Jesus Christ, Study Time will be purely devoted to Biblical teachings. My other blog posts will be general motivational material. 

Disclaimer 2: Please remember that the original intended audience of my lessons are children and the youth, so please excuse me if Study Time appears to be too basic or childish for you.

So here comes the first lesson: Love Thyself

Key Bible Verses
1 John 4:8
1 Corinthians 13.13
Mark 12: 31
Genesis 1: 26
1 Timothy 4:12
1 John 2:16

Exercise: Do you love you? OK. In three seconds say three things you love about yourself. Was it difficult to do? read on...

What is love?
Dictionary definition: a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection as for a parent, child or friend.

Biblical definition: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude... It is not irritable...
(1 Corinthians 13: 4 and 5, NLT)

What's the point of even studying this? You might ask. Why is love important? To answer your questions, God is love (1 John 4:8), so to know God is to know love; also we are told plainly in black and white that love is the most important virtuous characteristic (1 Corinthians 13.13)

In Mark 12.31, in an address to a scribe* Jesus cited loving your neighbour as yourself as being one of the two most important commandments. We tend to grasp the 'loving thy neighbour' as the compulsory part of the command, and ignore the 'as thyself' part. So as good christians whilst we try to show love to our brother, or sister, or even our teacher we may not like much we do not put so much effort into showing ourselves that love.

How many times have we said “I’m so stupid!”, or “I hate my nose... my stomach”, or “if only I had the IPhone 6…” Or how many times do we refuse to forgive ourselves for saying something embarrassing in front of the class? What are the parts of you, you hate the most, or you'd like to change?

I would like to challenge that school of thought and assert that BOTH parts of Jesus' statement is as important and BOTH are commands.  
How much do you adore and revere those in the public eye? Do you know you are just as talented, creative and beautiful as they are? Also, guess what? The best thing about you is that you are all real - not airbrushed!

So now, why attribute love to yourself?

We are created in God’s image
Genesis 1: 26-27 
  • The Bible is not saying we physically look like God, because we don’t know what He actually looks like
  • But instead, we reflect His glory, and His characteristics of love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness
  • This should make us feel worthy because God is worthy.
  • Criticising ourselves is like criticising what God has so carefully created.

The Bible especially advises young people to do so
1 Timothy 4: 12
  • Timothy was a young man in the Bible who was trying to lead a church
  • Like us young people here today, Timothy was facing a lot of pressure and challenges from the church. So Paul wrote him a letter to encourage him
  • The essence of the scripture is even as a young person, don’t see yourself as unimportant, and don’t let others see you in that way too. Show people yourself through the way you act, the way you speak and the way you live.

     How far should we take this loving ourselves thing?
      By all means love yourself wholly and fully, from the things you choose to put into your body, to the way you allow yourself to be treated by others, to the amount of time you choose to spend with yourself. After all, our God is not a God of halves. He is an all or nothing kinda God!

      However this does not mean we should be proud and selfish.1 John 2.16 tells us wanting things to fulfill our selfishness and being too proud, or boastful of the things we have (like our IPhones, tablets, Air Forces etc.) is evil. Moreover these things can quickly become a cover-up for our insecurities. 

Are there times where you have perhaps acted "too big for your boots?"

Write a list of two to three items you would feel "lost" without.

I hope you have learned something from today's Study Time. Please your comments, questions, or even the things you may disagree with below. I am keen to hear from you.  

Please do stay tuned in for more.

But before I leave you, please do me a favour: in three seconds tell me three things you love about yourself.

 *Scribes in ancient Israel were learned men whose business was to study the Law, transcribe it, and write commentaries on it. They were also hired on occasions when the need for a written document arose or when an interpretation of a legal point was needed.


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