The dictionary defines self-love as:
1. the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.
2. conceit; vanity.
The instinct or tendency to seek one’s own well-being or to further one’s own interest
It is natural for man to protect himself from harm. Paul said in Ephesians 5:29 that no man has yet hated his flesh. When we are injured, or have a headache, we seek remedy. That does not have to be taught. Such self-love is assumed.
However, loving our neighbor with Biblical self-love is not so natural. When we understand, accept and apply God’s love for us, loving others is a result of our relationship in Christ, but this (agape) love in Jesus’ “new commandment” is not natural (of ourselves) but is caught and taught from the new spiritual relationship.
John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Here again, the word love here is agape – not eros (physical) or phileo (friendship)
Jesus loved and gave himself for others. 1John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. That kind of love is spiritual.
Last time we discussed how we love our neighbor (and ourselves) through prayer.
A second form of agape love is – Do no harm (literally, works no evil)
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love….
So goes the song, but do we really think about what this verse is saying – it is more than love others the way we physically love ourselves.
If this kind of love does no wrong to a neighbor and we love that neighbor “as we love ourselves” what should our actions toward ourselves reveal? Do we naturally do harm to ourselves when harm can be avoided or resisted? Do we naturally question before doing anything if our action will show love to God’s creation (me), or if my action will better enable me to demonstrate love to my neighbor?
Do I really believe I am a temple of the living God, or do I believe the enemy’s lies that I am narcissistic if I care for that temple?
If my life practices and habits do not reveal true care and love to myself (God’s creation) how can I expect others to believe I will truly care for them?
I know that someone who refuses to listen to God’s Word and continually runs himself or herself down letting the emotions-roller-coaster control their life makes me want to run from them.
When I believe the enemy’s lies and accusations (you can’t, you will never) and get in a funk, I know I need ask God’s help to choose to do no wrong to myself so that I can later love my neighbor in the same way. That includes physical harm, mental and emotional harm (harming my health, choosing what the eye sees, and the mind takes in), and spiritual harm (refraining from fellowship, Bible reading, etc.). Those things are all harmful. If I don’t see them as harmful for myself, why would my neighbor believe I would care for them more, or differently, than I care for myself?
It will be a challenge as my friend, Laura Kramer, recently expressed so well on her blog. (To Live a Healed Hallelujah http://bit.ly/15OvqN9)
How have you learned (in your walk with Christ) to love your neighbor as yourself?