One day a lawyer came to Jesus and asked Him which is the greatest commandment in the law?:-
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40.
When most people discuss verse 39 they concentrate on we should do for our neighbours. However, I would like to take a different approach here. I would like to look at the "love . . . as thyself," part. What does it really mean to love thyself? Does it mean we are to have self-love or self-respect?
Self-love is to love one's own person or happiness. It is really selfishness which is being inconsiderate of others. Selfishness blinds us to the needs of others causing them grief, while deceiving ourselves that we are still right with God. It is the root of covetousness and bars the way to usefulness. This can hardly be what the Scriptures are referring to.
Self-respect is to hold with some degree of reverence; to esteem as possessed of real value; to have proper regard for one's dignity, design and purpose. This will lead us to respect and preserve the living machinery that is so fearfully and wonderfully made - namely our bodies. This respect and value of ourselves is what we should have towards others.
"Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself," is the second commandment on which hang all the law and the prophets. So let us look at the commandments relating to our relationship with other people and see if we can apply them to having self-respect.
In closing here are some questions for us all to answer :-
- How much self-respect do we have?
- Can you truly love our neighbour if we have no self-respect?
- Do you need to respect ourselves more so that we can love our neighbour more?
May the love of Jesus Christ so fill our hearts that love spontaneously springs forth to others.
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2013. Last updated July, 2020.
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