“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
~Matthew 22:36-39 (NLT)
Happy Wednesday !
I am sure when you read this passage of scripture you get the “the love the Lord your God” part and the “love your neighbor" part but did you notice that this scripture challenges us to love ourselves?
I know that is not how this passage is typically taught. I am often challenged on this statement. The argument most often is that we do not need to worry about loving ourselves because humans are inherently selfish. But here's the thing: selfishness is NOT self-love so when I say that this scripture is teaching us an important principle about self-love, I am not talking about being selfish.
Here is what I believe: Jesus wants us to love others in the same way that He does - an agape kind of love. From what I have studied, agape love is not about putting everyone else's needs ahead of yours to the point of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Nor is agape love is not about stroking egos, making people feel good or giving them everything they want (and feeling guilty when you don't or can't).
Agape love is the love that Christ demonstrated towards us, a love that prioritizes what is good for the person and their development, not what feels good. He does not always give us what we want and as my mom is famous for saying "He prioritizes our character over our comfort." If that is true, (I see countless examples in my life and I am sure you do too), then loving others properly - in a way that furthers God's plan for their life - requires that I learn to love myself in the same way. You see, we can only give what we have. If I have an unhealthy view of self-love (i.e. selfishness or completely selfless), the love I give to others will be unhealthy too.
Just like Algebra must precede Calculus, you must learn to love yourself before you can properly love others. That means learning to do what is in your ultimate best interest even when it does not feel good or is inconvenient. When you can do that, you will love others in that way and:
You see, having goals, speaking up for yourself, and knowing what you need to do to be successful is not selfish and always pushing your goals to the side for others is not healthy. In Christian circles, it is easy to deem selflessness as the ultimate form of kindness, but that is not what Jesus modeled for us.
So I challenge the assertion that in order to be a "good Christian" we have to run around like a chicken with our heads cut off meeting other people's needs and always sacrificing our own. Now, hopefully, you do too.
Again, I'm not here to throw shade. I am on a journey with God too. You pray for me and I'll pray for you.
Until next time,
P.S. Are you following me on Facebook? If not, click here and then like.
coach tam's Blog
40-something who loves food, fitness, and fun!