The greatest way I can love myself is to know God’s love, to daily communicate with God (prayer and reading His words) and through that relationship truly be able to love myself and to love others. To see myself and my needs in others as God saw them in me.
Many verses of scripture show that this command to love our neighbors is part of God’s plan to reveal that agape love to them. The rest of the command (how to love our neighbors) “as yourself” assumes that self-love exists.
I contend this passage refers to more than self-protection for shelter, from pain, and desire for pleasure. It is also natural in man to willfully do all the things all 10 commandments tell us not to do. God does not want us to love others that way.
These passages of scripture are written to those who have given themselves wholly to God (as Munger explains in his little book My Heart, Christ’s Home), have unlocked and opened every secret door of our soul to the Lord. That is why self-love is assumed, because the receiver of these writings has been healed and made whole.
Just as the 10 commandments of the law benefit and protect others that you do not slander, steal from, commit adultery with, etc. but they first protect the follower. God’s answer to what is the greatest commandment was:
Matt. 22:37-39 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list.
But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’
These are both walk the talk commands
First we are told to love as God loved us, and to understand our value to Him
Eph. 5:2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Learning that kind of love will eventually spill over and bless others, but first it blesses us to observe, to feel, to know how Christ loved and continues to love us.
Then we are given examples of how to love others that same way
Matthew 5:16 Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
1Peter 3:1 The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated
1Peter 2:12 Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
1Peter 2:15 It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society.
1John 3:14 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters.
1John 3:18 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.
1John 4:7 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.
I’d love to hear from you as you review these verses. Now that you know Christ, how do these encouragements bless you (the giver) as well as those who receive your love-in-action? Did someone show you God’s love in any of these ways?