Ephesians 5:28-30 (ESV)
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
James 2:8 Nevertheless, you are doing the right thing if you obey the royal Law in keeping with the Scripture, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
These relatively commonly known scripture all seem to put forth the idea that we love others as we do ourselves. Which indicates that there is a such concept as loving oneself as we are meant to use that as a measure for loving others. If this is accurate then what is the biblical definition of loving oneself?
We see a clue in the first scripture Ephesians 5: 25-30. It tells husbands that they should love their wives as themselves, but then goes on to speak about how the husband loves himself is related to how the husband cares for his own body. Speaking of things like feeding oneself when you are hungry and keeping oneself bathed and in good health. It paints the picture that simply by taking care of yourself, responding to your own needs and wants, is itself and act of loving toward yourself. This is where the plot thickens however.
We spend little time, or at least I spent little time considering loving myself because I thought it was a road to ruin but perhaps in doing so I missed a piece of the puzzle. Only if I understand how I do and how I should love myself can I fill in the unknown value in this equation and like normal it is more than most of us want to give.
If I was as responsive to my wife or my neighbors needs as I was to my own… how much of an investment would that be
Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)
11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Surely as we consider the idea of a biblical love for self we are confronted with the reality that even this is something that must be taken from a point of view that doesn’t place us at the center but actually is there to help us understand selflessness. For you to make a choice you have to have options to choose between. You only know you love the rain because you have experienced both rain and sunshine. Perhaps we can only truly understand selflessness because we know selfishness.
1 John 4:19 We love because God first loved us.
if we simply ignore the idea of loving ourselves if for no other reason than because God who we model love after, loves us?
We love based on the model that God gave us. We only understand love through scripture and 1st John here clarifies that he loved us first and as we try to emulate that love, we are loving but without it… well we don’t know. God loved us from before the foundation of the world. Before Genesis 1:1 he already knew us and loved us so there hasn’t been a single human foot set upon this earth before God already loved us.
Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV)
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will
This indicates here that before the creation of this earth God had already not only designed each and everyone of us but had already made the plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ.
Some look to verses like this and say that the bible indicated that only some of us were specifically predestine or chosen beforehand to be Gods people. This verse however says that every single one of us was meant to follow the same plan, that being that we would all be saved by Jesus and all go to heaven.
We have seen here that God has given us value. That is evident in everything he has done not only to have us but to keep us. We know that we have value to one another. The whole concept of community is based on the abilities of each individual. We see that giving ourselves too much value is of course not a good path to take either.
“Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.
Love for ones self seems to be a comparative ideal wherein you are given a standard by which to understand what your outward love should be like. Understanding our own value is what makes it possible for us to see the value of others.
Our love for ourself and by extension for one another can be very deeply effected by our ability to accept love as well.
I love the things that God loves and if God loves me then that means I should love me as well.
Go back to part 1