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Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

by on May 23, 2014

Self-love or selfishness is great sin. What did Jesus mean? What could He mean? How and why could He say, Love your neighbor as yourself? Do you love yourself? Should you love yourself?

Self-love or selfishness is typically associated with self-centeredness and self-indulgence. Egocentricism – I am the center of the universe. Life revolves around me and my interests. I do not love other people. I use other people to love myself.

But, what if Jesus meant what He said? What could that mean? He was speaking to those who knew or should have known the law and been living for God. In fact, He was quoting one of the oldest Bible texts. God’s people should be able to understand and follow His law. This is a command. The original text is part of the law. God expects His people to live this way. What does God want?

God does not want sacrifice. He wants love and obedience. He wants obedience from a heart of love. His commandments are calculated to call His people to worship and obedience from a heart of love.

All of this is prefaced, of course, by the command to love God with all your mind, soul, might, and strength. Loving God means to honor Him and respect Him and His gifts. One of those gifts is life – your earthly life and your eternal life. So, loving God is to honor and respect Him and worship Him now and in eternity.

Next, we are to love our neighbor. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. How are we to love our neighbor? By doing “no harm” to the neighbor. In fact, not only do we not harm, but we do good, even if the neighbor mistreats us. So, loving the neighbor means doing good and not doing harm. We should treat our self that way also.

True self-love means honoring the gift of life that God has given. It means caring for the body, soul, and spirit of that life. It means developing the personal and social relationships in life. It means subduing the carnality in life. It means abstaining from all harmful activities. It means provision for eternity – most of life will be lived in eternity, not in time.

It is only when we love self well that we can love others well. Lack of self-appreciation and self-respect results in lack of appreciation and respect for others also. Loving others as self, means attempting to provide for them what we provide for our selves – material and emotional and Spiritual blessings to build them into joyful persons. We rejoice in their joy and weep with their tears.

Loving others means living wholly for God and calling others to live that way also. More than that, it means helping them to find their way to that life in God. As we make provisions for self, we make provisions for them. As we seek healing for self, we seek healing for them also.

Koinonia, fellowship, community, gemeinshaft all express the way believers love each other. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Happiness and joy become the serendipitous effect of that life.

Well-meaning religious people think and speak of not loving self. They are right. Self is not to be placed on a pedestal or worshipped or held up in pride. They are also wrong however – their attempts at self-abasement actually become pride. They miss the point that Godly self-love honors God and honors the gift of life that He provides for each person.

There are many unhealthy persons who do not care for themselves. Why would that be? If they were never cared for, they may not feel worthy of being cared for or feel capable of caring for self. That is a wrong self-perception. If all the world hates you, God still loves you. Do not allow the rejection of this world to determine your value.

What the world calls self-love typically becomes self-destruction. Indulgence and pleasure-seeking become ends in themselves. That is not love. That is harm. Satan wants to harm. Do not allow him to do that by discouragement and self-harm.

So, love yourself by loving the life God has given to you. It may be short. It may be longer. We do not know. We know that life is a gift from God. Live it. Love it. In living and loving you will honor the Giver of life and the Giver of love.

Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and
Love your neighbor as
You love your self.

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