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 22:38-39
When Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," He was not saying that before you can love others, you must first love yourself. That is the common interpretation we often hear, but that is not correct. Jesus is not teaching self-love.
Essentially, He is saying that just as you already love yourself, as you already care for yourself and think about yourself, you are to love your neighbor in the same way.
We already love ourselves. As the apostle Paul said, "No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it . . ." (Ephesians 5:29). And that is true.
Sometimes people say, "I hate myself. I'm so ugly. I'm just so horrible. I just hate myself." Really? If you truly hated yourself, then you would be happy that you were ugly, right?
Why is it that people who say they hate themselves spend all their time talking about themselves? "I hate the way that I look," they will say. "I hate this about myself. I hate that about myself."
No, the fact of the matter is that all of the attention they shower on their own lives proves they love themselves. The truth is, we all love ourselves.
Jesus is saying, "You already love yourself; therefore, love your neighbor." He goes on to say that if you do this, as well as love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, then all the commandments of God will be fulfilled, because you will naturally do the things that please Him.
Copyright © 2008 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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