Chris' Corner - Sunday, July 26, 2020
There’s a dangerous trend in our society for self-love. Many think the most important thing is to act upon whatever makes us happy. But what happens when the love I have for myself causes you problems and grief? Do my feelings overrule yours? Should I care about you? How can I be concerned about you, if I’m so fixated on myself, I can’t see anyone else?
Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as our self (Matthew 22:39). He didn’t say, first learn to love yourself then you’ll know how to love your neighbor. Generally speaking, most everyone already has a certain amount of love for themselves. So, simply love your neighbor as you love yourself.
From Jesus teaching we see our “neighbor” is identified as anyone in need (physically or spiritually), be it our family, friends, neighbors, or a complete stranger.
Christians are motivated by love to serve and care for one another. Paul emphasized this love to the Galatians. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (5:13, 14).
With this command, our focus turns from ourselves to love and appreciate others. In the context of marriage, Paul said, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Ephesians 5:28, 29). Remember, Jesus sacrificed Himself for the church!
Biblical self-love is not a selfish love. It expresses itself by loving others and putting them before ourselves. Paul expands on this in Philippians 2:1-4. “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
With self-love defined and promoted by our modern culture, the majority of our society’s problems can be traced back to a fixation on self. Perhaps every negative character trait that anyone can have, is brought on by a preoccupation with self. Those guilty of pride, drunkenness, rape, abortion, theft, pornography, sexual immorality, murder, cheating, violence, lying, adultery, divorce, child abuse, hatred, envy, being unforgiving, and covetous, are guilty of loving themselves more than anyone else.
We can only imagine what our world would be like, if more people would turn to the God of love and learn from Him and His instructions on love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love...Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7, 8, 11).