If you read my posts last week about the greatest commandments, then this scripture is for you.  This is found in 1 John 3:18-24 (The Message.)

When We Practice Real Love

18-20My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

Isn’t that fabulous?  I love the wording “debilitating self-criticism.”  Can you relate?  I know I can!  Over the years of talking with my Christian brothers and sisters about the ups and downs of our journey with the Lord, I have heard way too much of this “debilitating self-criticism.”  While the Lord loves a humble heart, I have known so many people who are stuck…simply paralyzed…by a debilitatingly critical view of themselves and how they think they “ought” to be.  Yet, in these verses, it appears that John is gently reminding us that REAL love is the antidote for that “paralysis of analysis.”  Whether we think too highly of ourselves or we think too little of ourselves, thinking too much about ourselves can keep us stuck.  The two commandments that Jesus valued most highly–to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves–set us free to receive the life God has planned for us.  Real love, it seems, is the cure for debilitating self-criticism and perhaps, the path back to a healthy, invigorating love for ourselves as well.