When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. –Matthew 22:34-40
It’s interesting that this came as Christ was responding to a group of Pharisees who apparently feared becoming irrelevant. For they were the ones who supposedly had it all figured out, theologically… that is, until Christ came on the scene. What we must realize is that we can no longer afford to continue to miss Christ over and over again, in exchange for what appears to be the most fool-proof of all competing belief systems.
Right in the face of the chiefest ‘law enforcers’, Christ plainly lays it out: “You shall love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Like it or not, love is the controlling theme of the law of God, incapsulated in these two commandments which are the greatest to God.
If love isn’t the greatest to you or what guides ‘the school of thought’ you follow, you are following someone other than the God of Scripture.
Under the broad heading of Christianity, love is completely misapplied and/or misunderstood by nearly everyone. Love is the most neglected area of the Christian experience. In place of what our Lord is stating here, we are taught to love those who God does not love or that our hatred for those He does not love should consume us to the extent to where loving our brethren is seen as weakness or even heresy. Needless to say, Christ cuts through all our shallow logic and reasoning, challenging us to reach deep inside and discover our greatest power, which is His love. Stop playing around in short-sighted, theological think tanks and begin soaring to greater heights with God’s love.
Time after time, men try to craft or even ignore Christ’s words to fit our own systems. Are you prepared to receive what He said are the“greatest” commandments, even if it doesn’t fit your beliefs?! Cutting through all the “flavors” and various forms of rote religion to arrive at the Christianity Jesus taught, involves humble consideration of Christ’s words alone. Love comes from the depths of who you are, “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
This completely demolishes the popular assumption that the God we are to worship is everywhere except in you.
Though God is Omnipresent and is everywhere, love comes from within God’s people because He lives there too. From Christ’s words here we can see that love for God, your people, and even yourself is the foundation of our faith. This foundation is already within you, but you must tear down the superficial “tents” and “shacks” erected on it, so you can begin to build something of value with your life for God.
A mark of a Pharisee is how they always seem to react based upon their own insecurities, not love. These Pharisees felt threatened by Christ because word was getting around that He “had silenced the Sadducees”. Pharisees feel as if it is their rite to promote and then protect their own ideas, positions, and the kingdom they have constructed, at all costs. For the world could not go on without them though everyone else is expendable. Winning debates and elevating themselves above others is far more important to them than love as well. For ultimately their concern isn’t God’s glory, but their own. It is essential that we each examine our own life to make sure we haven’t “hitched your wagons” to someone like this.
Something profound is revealed here concerning God’s original intent in His giving to Israel “the law and the prophets,” which our ancestors gradually let slip away.
Based on what Jesus says here, what we call the Old Testament, wasn’t given just for the sake of history.
According to Christ, God’s primary purpose in giving Israel the law and the prophets was to promote love among our people.
This was all the Bible they had at this time, and it was given to communicate and encourage God’s people to express God from within them, Who is love. To approach Scripture without this understanding will only lead us into a ditch.
The Apostle Paul agreed with this when he said that without love, we are nothing. When we are attempting to be Christians by living and operating under some other power and motivation besides love, we are nothing because we are trying to do it without God. Love is the last thing those puffed up on knowledge want to hear is the purpose of God’s commandments. But like these Pharisees, we are testing God when we want anything else to be more important than love. Our primary focus and the backdrop of everything we do is to be centered on the love of God within us.
Most who speak the loudest about upholding the law and keeping the commandments completely ignore love by deliberately mistreating others. Thinking we are close to God by doing what we perceive as all the right things while having the right beliefs, regardless of the way we treat others, is the height of selfishness and the opposite of authentic Christianity. Whereas obeying God’s commandments Christ’s way here involves wanting to love others.
Christ was also expressing that keeping His commandments is through not only loving others, but by loving “yourself”.
Isn’t it amazing how the teaching of Christ here, that we are to love ourselves, is so strongly opposed by most teachers and pastors today?! Think about it: the God of the Universe loves me, but because the majority of preachers teach against me loving myself – I’m not supposed to?! This is completely ridiculous when you look at it from the standpoint of the One Who created us and came Himself to shed His blood for our sins.
It is so easy for most preachers and teachers to say, “You’re not supposed to love yourself” because most of them only love those who support and agree with them, exactly the way Christ said the Pharisees were in the Sermon on the Mount. This shallow perception is nothing more than a lust for recognition cloaked in false humility. Release yourself from this trap by simply believing the words of Christ. Repent of following anyone who fails to recognize your worth as one God created and for whom Christ suffered and died.
How big is it for us to love ourselves?
Obviously it is of upmost importance or else Christ would not have included it in something He said was “like” the First Commandment which is to love God. This could be a huge hurdle in your own mind that is preventing you from a lot of blessings and being more of a blessing to others in your own life. Do you have a hard time feeling personally worthy of the blessings of God in your life? The only way out of this bondage is by you loving yourself the way Christ commands us here.
If feeling unworthy of God’s blessings is just something you’ve always assumed was part of being a good Christian, then recognize that you’ve been deceived.
Having some fabricated sense of humility is not worth missing out on the freeing impact these words of Christ could have upon your entire life. According to Christ here, if you do not love yourself, you cannot possibly love others (including God) the way that you should. Neglecting love, even of ourselves, is living a lie, no matter how straight we may think we are on our doctrine.
In order to fully get this, you may first need to understand what Christ is not saying here.
Christ is not advocating selfish pride or lust. Loving yourself is actually the opposite of selfishness as you are becoming more conscious that you are a part of something much greater. It is also realizing that Someone Else is in you. Beginning to love yourself is acknowledging your awareness of this.
Christ isn’t at all telling us to love our flesh or to be egotistical. Loving yourself actually has the affect of helping you recognize your own carnality. You then want to crucify your ego because in our flesh (as Paul said) dwells no good thing – there’s nothing lovable there. We grow in our love as our consciousness of God within us grows, making who we once were, more and more insignificant.
These Pharisees had no love. They were only interested in Him saying whatever fit their system of controlling people by their manipulation of Scripture. No one was being set free by what they taught, as they were selectively using the law and the prophets to place heavy burdens on God’s people. The extent of their “spirituality” was “You gotta do this, or you mustn’t do that”. While Christ said just let what’s already in you flow – My love.
If your perception of God’s Word has made your life miserable and more cumbersome, then you have bought into the teachings of a Pharisee.
God wants us walking in liberty and experiencing personal progress so that we will be a greater blessing to our people. The intent of these greatest of the commandments is the overall intention of the entire Word of God – to make us the greatest in the kingdom of God we can be. God’s way is paved with love from start to finish.
How can it be more plain, while coming from the mouth of God Incarnate Himself, to “love your neighbor as yourself”.
Look closely and absorb the importance of these words. The way and amount you love yourself is the basis for how you love everyone else. If you do not love yourself then the love you think you have for others cannot be genuine. Until you love yourself, there is no way you are obeying this commandment because your love for everyone else can only arrive up to the level you have for yourself. By this we know Christ loved Himself because He came and died for our sins. Loving yourself is being like Christ and is the starting point for loving others the way God wants us to.
No Christian would deny that God wants us to love our neighbor. Christ is giving us the key of how to actually accomplish it. He doesn’t tell us we should love ourselves as we love others because obviously we should know ourselves better than we know anyone else. So forsake the ignorance of men which tells you that being a good Christian is to love your neighbor while not loving yourself. Simply let go of this confusion by loving yourself as Christ has instructed.
Loving yourself is going beyond the fleshly, physical aspect of your existence to God’s Spirit within.
Once you recognize that the One giving you this commandment is within you, you cannot help but love yourself. Not loving yourself is denying that He is in you, which is the heart of the Gospel (Colossians 1:27). It is the Spirit of God within us that is the everlasting proof that we are His. Approach loving your White kin by first loving yourself.
Loving yourself encourages bringing out more of Christ in your daily life. God is love and Christ was God in the flesh. We prove that we are His true disciples by the love we have for one another. It is impossible for us to do any of this if we do not first see the need to love ourselves.
Christ is telling us there is nothing wrong with loving yourself which will lead you to discover deep down what God wants you to be for Him. In fact, it is crucifying your carnal mind and allowing Christ to dwell more fully in you that will cause you to love yourself as you should. The more you let go of your past, stop comparing yourself to others, and quit focusing on external things, the more conscious you will become of Christ, bringing out from within yourself Who it is you love. Therefore loving your neighbor as yourself is actually loving God. This is why Christ said the second commandment was “like” the greatest and first.
It is amazing that those who claim we are not to love ourselves are usually the most self-centered and egotistical of all.
Not loving yourself leads to selfish pride just like when we disobey any of God’s commandments. When we do not find our significance in Christ within, we will always find it somewhere in our flesh. When we do not assume the type of character God prescribes, we are in danger of blindly following others who are blind, then becoming far less than what He intended for us to be. By thinking it is so pious to say we are not to love ourselves, we are actually feeding our ego and are despising everyone else, even God, by telling our brethren to disobey His greatest commandments.
If we refuse to love the way God has commanded us to, regardless of how much we think we know, like the Pharisees, we do not know God.
The more we rebel by focusing on the external, the further we stray from His way. Having no agreement with Christ on this, the most fundamental and greatest of His laws, we will not comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of God Paul spoke of, as we should.
Given the magnitude and clear implications of these words of Christ, what does it truly mean for one to tell other Israelites not to love themselves? It is telling them that loving one another isn’t important, proving their words to be a blatant contradiction to the Word of God. How can one be loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength if they willfully choose to disobey the next greatest commandment which is the only way to prove our love for the invisible God by loving our brother whom we see? The unfiltered words of Christ are powerful, once we cut away the modern veneer of false humility and weakness. Making time for love is making time for God (I John 4:20-21) .
Christ not only came to do miracles and die, but to lead His sheep to greener pastures by restoring the true, original faith God gave Israel, which begins and continues with love.
The basis of our love for one another is our consciousness of God’s Spirit in all of our brethren, proven by how much we love. This is anything but selfish love because it is based on the mutual connection of the Spirit of God within each Israelite. God’s Word cannot fail and our race will not overcome and succeed without it. Our race will never prevail by denying and disobeying our Head. The only way then is for us to unite by loving God, ourselves, and others.
Only through this will you recognize what is lovable in you, then you can recognize it in others.
Until we choose to appreciate the words of Christ here, we will only gravitate towards others who have bought into the same lies we have. Unfortunately, we shouldn’t be surprised that so many teach against this. For Christ said that the narrow way to life is only taken by a few. This love Christ speaks of however, brings us closer together with those who want to be like Christ from within.
Since Christ tells us that loving ourselves is the first step toward loving others, this reveals that the ones who are really selfish are those who refuse to love themselves.
As a result, they will spend the rest of their days unfulfilled and empty unless they recognize how miserable everyone else is around them and decide to change.
To what extent should one love himself? At least to the extent where your love is being experienced consistently by others. Why do you do, what you do for others? It shouldn’t be for show, while the cameras are flashing. Those who are motivated by love do for others because we simply love Christ. Love is to be our lifestyle, not just when it’s expedient, expecting a pat on the back or something in return – now that’s nothing but selfishness. Loving your true self within is continually wanting to express love by being a blessing and wanting to help others.
The amount with which you love yourself is the personal standard you set for how much you will love others, according to Christ.
Do you see how fair and practical God is? The responsibility doesn’t fall on how well-crafted our doctrines are, or how well we keep meaningless rituals and traditions. None of that provides us any legitimate excuse for ignoring our brother’s needs, despising him, or to condemn him to hell.
Do you really believe God created all of this and then came to die, just so we would get in better alignment with the most accurate set of rules and rituals, which is actually causing all the confusion we see today? Or do you believe God wants us to be a nation of kings and priests who stand strong together in the power of His Holy Spirit by loving one another as He tells us here? Be sure you make the right decision because you are responsible for yourself.
Do you truly believe Christ was God in the flesh and that He is our perfect Example? As we said, it is evident that Christ loved Himself because He loved us to the uttermost.
People who don’t love themselves are usually miserable, but Christ was always full of joy. Doesn’t the Bible tell us to let go of our past mistakes and move toward a better life? This is the way loving ourselves has a cleansing affect. Plus, one of the main reasons people find it difficult to forgive others is because they have never forgiven themselves for some things. Try forgiving yourself and see how what others have done to offend or hurt you just doesn’t seem to matter that much after all. Peace with yourself leads to peace with God and others. Only loving yourself will accomplish this for you.
God doesn’t hold us responsible for what others do or even how they choose to treat us. But according to this, He does hold us responsible for how we feel about ourselves because it is the truest reflection of how we feel about being created in His image. Make whatever changes necessary to begin loving yourself. Then you will be on the road toward loving God and others as you should. See yourself as what God is making you to be and others as well. We will never become what God wants us to be if we do not love ourselves.
If you cannot distinguish within yourself the old and new man, between the carnal and spiritual natures, you will not understand what Christ is saying here.
You will also only continue buying into believing loving yourself as “evil” or “sinful”. Your ego, which reasons away walking in the Spirit and living by faith, will never lead you to love others, including God. Why not simply take Christ at His Word and love yourself, instead of continuing to listen to others who want to ignore Him. The fact is, those who seem so sincere in telling you not to love yourself in the Name of Christ, want your allegiance for themselves, to what they say. No longer allow them to cheat you out of experiencing the fulfilling Christian life which only comes through love.
How far has not loving yourself gotten you in your life?
Believing that God loves you and is in you, makes loving yourself the next progressive step. It’s up to you to activate love in your own life, now that you’ve seen these words. There’s no need to keep falling short of God’s glory. Start falling more and more in love with Him. Open your heart to the blessings of God by following His commandments from within. For once, why not keep it simple without leaning on some other man’s reasoning? God just wants you to love, even yourself.
No matter what others may say, you should no longer fear loving yourself now that Christ has told you to.
Accept the peace only Christ can bring within yourself and others. It is by His love that God has chosen to shape us and make us into who He wants us to be.
If it is your desire to do anything in your power to help those you love, then this is for you. The less you give up on yourself, the less likely you are to give up on others. And the more you want to recognize how valuable you are to the work of God’s kingdom, the more you will see the quality which lies within your brethren. Be the trailblazer in your world, as others may not see this need within themselves until they see these words put to practice in you.
Loving ourselves from within has a humbling effect, as we recognize what we’ve been missing out on and are so thankful that God has revealed it to us. Like Christ, our outlook concerning others loving themselves causes us to focus more on building them up.
There’s no need to hold back on God any longer. Christ is telling you that the more you love yourself, the more you will love Him and your people.