“Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.” — Proverbs 19:8 .
When we talk about loving your neighbor as yourself, I’m not referring to self-worship, the need to constantly look in the mirror or dust off our trophies and or take selfies all day long because we believe we are the real deal. I’m talking about being thankful and appreciative of the person God made in us. The two are radically different.
If we were hooked up to a lie detector, we would probably admit that we are pretty fond of ourselves. We love to think about us, look out for us, and work for us. We don’t mind success and we don’t have any issue with people who recognize our worth. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have regrets, due to mistakes or failures. Even so, we have to think of ourselves, so thinking of others sometimes takes a back seat. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you study the people throughout history that have made contributions to the Kingdom, it is not because they loved themselves. They usually changed the world because they didn’t think of themselves at all. They moved self far down the priority list and consumed themselves with God and furthering His kingdom.
Jesus also said in John 13:24, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Jesus would not have gone to the cross if He was thinking about or loving Himself. And I don’t think He would have gone to the cross if that action was based on how people treated Him during His years on earth. No, Jesus was completely selfless. The cross is the greatest act of love in history. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Sacrificing for others, serving others, requires more than loving ourselves.
In fact, the more we love ourselves, the less we tend to love others. It just seems to work that way. Just as you cannot serve God and money, you cannot love others the way you are supposed to love when you put yourself above them.
It is easy to tell where we stand by our actions. Do we love others enough to take action, to meet needs and put their interests first? Because when we truly are focused on giving and serving and loving those around us, we will have everything we need to be fulfilled, happy, and at peace knowing that we are serving God and loving Him instead of loving ourselves.
It is a receipt for less regret in our lives.
- How do you measure loving yourself? How do you measure loving others?
- What happens if you obey the greatest commandment—love God with all your heart, soul, and mind—without obeying the second greatest commandment—love your neighbor as yourself?
- The law of love in Galatians 5:14 says, “Love your neighbors as yourself.” How does living of a life of love give glory to God? Are there times when it is difficult to do the “loving thing” in relationships? How do you choose to love?
- How has your love for God and for others led to real-life actions and deeds?