The world has been talking about SELF-LOVE for a very long time. For Christians, the most recent focus has been on loving YOURSELF first, and then you will be able to love OTHERS. But there is a flaw embedded in that thinking. To clear it up, I stopped talking about it and went to God’s Word to LISTEN for his take on it. I learned that “Love yourself first, and then you will love others,” is a perverted misrepresentation.
God demands SO MUCH MORE from his children than SELF-LOVE. The Bible does not call us to love ourselves more. He pushes us to love others with the same fire that we ALREADY love ourselves.
The Apostle Paul gets us started on this exploration with his plea to the Romans: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9
OK, fair enough…clear enough. But what does “…as you love yourself…” mean?
Finding the answer to that question starts by recognizing that nobody needs a lesson on how to love themselves. C’mon. We already have a torrid love affair with ourselves.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
Jesus is not commanding us to love ourselves. He is assuming we (already) love ourselves.
Paul’s directive to “Love your neighbor as yourself” is intended to build on that assumption. HOW? By motivating us to transfer OUR desire and effort to be happy and persevering and fulfilled to OTHERS.
So, there it is…God says pursue our own well-being by focusing on the well-being of others. If my life is full of fear, I need to help someone else through their own fear. If my life is facing traumatic circumstances, I need to help someone else through their traumatic circumstances. And so on.
This does not erase our own desire—or ability–to be happy and fulfilled and unafraid. It simply shares that energy with others and multiplies God’s dependable and awesome power to transform lives in Christ. Ours and others.
How cool is that?
I ask God to help me embrace his command to pursue my own well-being by focusing on the well-being of others.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Are you transferring YOUR desire and effort to be happy and persevering and fulfilled to OTHERS?
“…no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:28–29