Love others as much as you love yourself.Matthew 22:39
Have you ever read this verse and thought, “See? First I need to love myself so that I can love others!”? I have. But, one day, someone said something that made me understand this verse from a different perspective. She said:
“God—foreseeing that we would inevitably love ourselves too much—gave us this commandment.” @MilaMarsili
This commandment was never really about us. Through His example, we know that God desires us to love others more than ourselves. But because He knows that we have this “me first” disposition, He summarized what our attitude to others should be by saying: “just as you have loved yourself.”
The Self-Love Trap
The idea that we need to cultivate self-love is widespread and has, of course, its place. I merely question to what extent can we practice self-care without falling into the traps of selfishness?
We’re barraged with “reminders” to take time for ourselves, to the point where our inner monologue becomes: “I deserve this.” “I’m going to choose my favorite place for dinner because it’s my turn to be happy.” “I’m going to treat myself to some new clothes.” “Let me relax and take care of me first.”
This constant self-gratification, if we’re being honest, has only led to dissatisfaction. It would make sense that if we supply our every desire, we would be happy and fulfilled. But that’s not how God created us. The Bible gives us the steps to how we can truly be fulfilled, happy, successful.
1 – Love…doesn’t seek its own advantage. 1 Corinthians 13:5
2 – Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Romans 12:10
3 – …in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3, 4
The boomerang effect
To love is to share and prioritize the needs of others. To love is to serve. And a funny thing happens when we put this into practice. While looking out for the needs of others, our own hearts are filled with true joy and purpose.
Not fully convinced? Then try it for yourself. Start blessing those around you. Take a moment to visit with someone, to listen carefully to their concerns. Set aside part of your monthly income to give to others. Get to know those in need and feed them. Find someone who is lonely (it won’t be hard) and invite them to go for a walk. Read this article about more ways you can help and love others, make a list, and get to it!
When we learn to love others, we reap fruits that nourish life and fill the soul.
Prioritizing others instead of seeking our own pleasure won’t make us depressed or unhappy. On the contrary, love heals. We become less selfish, proud, greedy, envious, lazy, and less unhappy too! What better way to love ourselves than by diminishing these traits that draw us away from God and cultivating ones that draw us nearer to Him?
Friend, the best prescription for self-love was written long long ago: Love others. Try it!