I have written a number of posts about how we, as Christians, are called to love others – both believers and unbelievers. In fact, we are not only encouraged to love others, we are commanded to love others.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
Next to loving God, loving others is the second most important commandment.
Mar 12:29-31 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second is like this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
Notice that the second commandment has a ‘qualifier’ added to it: love your neighbour as yourself.
We are told that we are to love, respect and treat other people just as we would do so for ourselves. BUT – what if we don’t love ourselves? And just what does it mean to ‘love ourselves’?
Loving ourselves – hmmm – sounds sort of narcissistic and selfish to me. You know – kind of “mirror-mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all” attitude. There are certainly more than enough selfish, self-absorbed people to go around in this world. But is that the type of love that God means when He says that we are to love ourselves?
I’ll give you a clue – the answer is NO!
The instruction to love your neighbour as you love yourself is mentioned seven times in the New Testament. The word ‘love’ that is used in each one of those scriptures is the Greek word ‘agapao’. We commonly know it as ‘agape’ love and it means to love in a moral or social sense. It is a love based on conscious choice, not feeling or emotion. It means to love because it is the right thing to do rather than waiting to ‘feel’ like loving. It is not a selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed kind of love. It is the kind of love that God has towards mankind – whether we deserve it or not.
God tells us that we are to love ourselves in this way. We must choose to love ourselves even if we don’t feel like we deserve it. Do you love yourself? I know that loving myself has been a HUGE problem for me over the years. Being left by first my father and then my husband gives the old self esteem a real kick in the teeth! My being a sensitive, self-conscious, perfectionist people-pleaser does not help the situation either. I am my own worst critic and thus perhaps my own worst enemy.
Thankfully, I have a gracious, merciful and patient Heavenly Father who is willing and able to help me change my distorted view of myself. He does this by telling me that He loves me.
Joh 16:27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us…
1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.
God even loved me when I was an unsaved sinner!
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins)…
And since the time that I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, God adopted me into His family and loves me as His daughter.
Eph 1:5 having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,…
If God loved me even when I was in my sinful state, and now loves me as His daughter, shouldn’t I learn to love myself??
Thankfully, I am finally learning to do just that. Through the truths that God has given me in His Word, and through the love of a wonderful husband that God has blessed me with, I am learning to be kinder to myself, learning to see myself through their eyes, learning to fall in love …. with myself.
I pray that you also are able to love yourselves as God loves you.
(See my post “In His Eyes”)