I have recently been thinking on the subject, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” After studying and doing my research, I was very much amazed at what I found. For instance, consider that:
Eight times in the Bible we are commanded to love thy neighbour as thyself.
The phrase, love thy neighbour as thyself, is one of the most repeated commands in the Bible.
Jesus said: to love God and your neighbour as yourself is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.—Mark 12:33
Why was it so important for God to continually remind us throughout Scripture to love our neighbour as much as we do ourselves? I think we probably all know the answer to that. It doesn’t come naturally for us, and it’s hard! At times, it’s very, very hard! In fact, loving our neighbour as our self is so difficult at times, and beyond our own ability, that we cannot do it on our own. It’s impossible! We have to know a higher power—working within and through us—Jesus Christ.
Most of us have been taught that we are not to think of ourselves too highly, and I believe that is scriptural. Matter of fact, I don’t like being around people who think of themselves as better than others. You probably don’t either. However, when we look at each one of these verses, we are told to “love thy neighbour…as thyself.” So what happens if I don’t love myself? Can I still love my neighbour?
Let me ask you a question, friend. If your love for self could be measured, using a scale of 1 to 10, what number would you give yourself?
If you just gave yourself a 2, 5, or a 7, the reality is, you will have a very difficult time loving your neighbour beyond a 2, 5, or a 7.
Furthermore, if you find yourself tearing others down and putting a low value on their lives, you might first look at yourself and see that it starts with you.
First, you have to love and value your own life. When you find that you can give yourself a 9 or 10, you will immediately notice a difference in how much your value and love for others increases.
Just in case you think I’m somewhere out in left field, let me explain what I don’t mean by loving self. I don’t mean that you should become puffed up and proud of yourself. God forbid! That’s worldly love and, as you already know, God hates it.
The love I’m trying to describe begins with God. Let’s look at 1 John 4:7-8:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of [from] God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. Consider these facts:
Loving others is dependent on us knowing God. The level of love and value I place on self and others goes back to how well I’ve accepted God’s love.
If I have a hard time receiving God’s love, I will have a hard time loving who I am. If I have a hard time loving who I am, I will have a hard time loving my neighbour.
So, if I’m having a hard time loving my neighbour, I have to go back to the very beginning; that is, I must learn how to receive the love that flows from the throne of God.
You might ask, how do I do that? I believe it goes back to God’s Word. If you do not read God’s word, your faith in God will become weak and begin to struggle. When your faith in God struggles, so will your life in the area of loving self and others.
Our understanding of love begins with the most frequently quoted verse in the Bible:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. —John 3:16
Let’s read that promise from God again. This time, I would like for you to place your name whenever you see a blank line. Ready?
For God so loved _, that he gave his only begotten Son, that if _ believeth in him, ___ should not perish, but have everlasting life (go to heaven). —John 3:16
This is what the Bible calls being “born-again” or “born from above.” In this new birth experience, God reveals His amazing love to you. This miracle will produce in you a new nature that will allow you to love others like never before—regardless of their response.