The Golden Rule came up earlier this week with an interesting idea flowing from the conversation. Let me print up the classic passage from Luke 10(NIV)-
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus then jumps into the Good Samaritan parable, showing us that a despised outsider is out-serving them all, providing a rather universal definition of neighbor.
The teacher didn't ask "who is 'myself'?" nor did Jesus opt to tackle that one (at least not on-screen).
What the other guy in the conversation pointed out is that we don't look at what it means to love yourself; if we hate ourselves, we're not going to do that good of a job of loving others. To borrow from Respect Yourself, if you don't love yourself, you ain't gonna give a hoot about others.
Self-respect and self-worth get a bad rap in conservative circles, folks are regaled with stories like the average student thinking they're above-average in math, taking Lake Woebegone's all-the-children-are-above-average shtick national. However, the reverse often happens in the real world.
My finance and economics classes were full of people thinking they were hopeless in algebra (and don't even start suggesting they can tackle some basic calculus) and needed to be shown they're not as bad as they think. I had to rehabilitate the psyches (and skill-sets at times) of folks who were "quantitatively challenged."
For folks who are down on themselves, we have to tackle their confidence-challenged nature to get them off the dime.
Psalm 139:14 is one of those self-confidence go-tos "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well". God don't make junk.
If you think you not wonderful enough for the job, recall that you are not a finished product-"he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" was Paul's pep talk to the Philippians in verse 1:6.
We're a work in progress. I recall a kids ditty from half a lifetime ago, He's Still Working on Me. If you want a more adult take, here's God's Still Working in Me, a good black-gospel slow-jam that I found by getting the first word of the title wrong; it just got put into my MP3 mix.
Evangelical thought is loaded with the idea that we're hopelessly sinful and in need of a Savior, that we can't stumble our way to salvation on our own without God grabbing us by the collar and leading us there. However, Genesis 1, which is a favorite go-to when tangling with science, also notes that man is made in the image of God. If I can borrow from a 2007 post-
We're far from perfect, but we're also far from being perfectly imperfect. We may be totally depraved as per salvation, but are something far short of level of depravity that in the context of being a citizen and worker.
Moses came to mind. He assumed he wasn't up for the job of being God's PR man and tried to talk his way out of it. God didn't take no for an answer, having more confidence in Moses than Moses did.
God isn't taking no for an answer in us, either. We've got more game than we think.