Recently, I took some time to reflect on the 2nd Greatest Commandment. This was with some help from a book entitled, “What Jesus Demands From The World” by John Piper. The 2nd Greatest Commandment is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s interesting, there is something that Jesus assumes of everyone in this command. We all love ourselves. Contrary to popular psychology and self-help theories, we don’t have to spend time, effort, or money learning to love and embrace ourselves. We already do that. It is built within us to care for ourselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Jesus doesn’t command for us not to love ourselves but in His command, He teaches us to learn something from how we love ourselves. This self-love should teach us how we are to love those around us. This is the standard that we have from God. The degree to which you love yourself, is the degree to which you should love your neighbor.
Now, self-love is sinful when we put ourselves and our own happiness above the Lord. It is also sinful when we try to seek those things apart from Him. We cannot truly love ourselves apart from loving God. To put ourselves before the Lord is the most hateful and destructive thing that we could do to ourselves. This is why Jesus’ 1st Greatest Commandment is to “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The love we have for ourselves (or others) should flow out of our love for the Lord. This is only when it will not be selfish or sinful. As we have looked at in 1 Corinthians 13 at Pike, God’s love is the only way to love. When we know His love, we truly know what love is and how best to display it. Jesus’ insight here, is to display it in the way that you show it to yourself.
How do you love yourself? Count the ways. You work for safety and comfort. You pursue what will sustain and satisfy. You provide what brings rest and refreshment. You desire joy and fulfillment. Every day, every hour, every minute we do so much to love ourselves. We are unwavering in this love. The question Jesus forces us to examine ourselves with is, “Do I love others with this same kind of passion, energy, drive, endurance, or hard work?” This is the gauge that Jesus has given us to love. The love that we would show ourselves is the love that others deserve.
Learning To Love, Pastor Rudy