Jesus tells us very clearly that “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39).
A very interesting text in light of the idea that we often look at love for self as the height of all that is opposed both to Christianity and to the idea of disinterested selflessness. What did Jesus mean by this text? How do we interpret, and apply it, in a way that reflects what true Christianity should be about?
Love of self, in the Christian sense, isn’t selfishness, it isn’t putting yourself first before everyone and anything else. On the contrary, love for self means that realizing your own worth before God, you seek to live the best possible life, knowing that the results of such a life will be a benefit not just to yourself (which is fine) but also, and even more important, to those with whom you come in contact.
How would you relate Jesus’ admonition above to the following texts?
The Redemption that the sinner obtains in Christ brings about such unity with Him (Gal. 2:20) that the Christian desires to live a life that is ordered after Christ’s impulses. The sinner desires to have Christ’s mind, to live no longer for one’s self but for Him, and to heed the call to holiness (separation from such things as our passions, the sinful trends in culture, and moral impurity). If you love yourself, you want what’s best for yourself, and what’s best for yourself is a life that is committed to God, a life that reflects the character and love of God, a life that is lived not for self but for the good of others. The surest way to guarantee yourself a miserable existence is to live only for self, never thinking of the good of others.
Dwell more on what it means to love yourself in the Christian sense. How easy is it for this kind of love to degenerate into a self-destructive self-centeredness? What’s the only way to protect yourself from that trap?