Loving Yourself

So I have devotions for today’s staff meeting.  I grab my trusty Faith Alone and open to today.  I have to say, Luther is spot on with this one.

Loving Yourself

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5:14

Some of the early church fathers concluded from this passage that love begins with loving yourself.  They said this because loving yourself was given as the measure for how much you should love your neighbor.  I used to consider this from all sides to try to understand it .  I understand this command to mean that only love toward your neighbor is being commanded, not love of yourself.

First, self-love is already present in people.  Second, if God had wanted to command you to love yourself, he would have said, “You should love yourself and your neighbor as yourself.”  But he said instead, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  In other words, “as yourself” means the way you already love yourself, without a commandment to do so.  When describing love in 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul teaches that love is not self-seeking.  It completely rejects self-love.  In Mark 8;34, Christ commands us to deny ourselves.  Philippians 2:3-4 clearly says, “In humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.”  this commandment presupposes that people already love themselves, just as when Christ says in Matthew 7:12, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”  Clearly he isn’t commanding you to love yourself here either.

So it seems to me the part of this commandment that says ‘as yourself” is referring to the wrong kind of love-the kind where you forget your neighbor and seek only your own interests.  But this can become the right kind of love if you forget yourself and think only about serving your neighbor. [1]

I can’t wait for the discussion at staff meeting.

[1]  James C. Gavin, editor, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), devotional for January 26.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s