Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Does this mean we need to love ourselves first in order to love others? Someone said, “Yes, we need to love ourselves before we can love others.” If the condition to love others comes from our ability to love ourselves, then we will never be able to love others as ourselves. Why? Because, self-seeking love always has self-interest at the core of one’s being.
Another name for self-seeking love is called pride. Pride is the presumption that we can be happy and our source of happiness can care for others to find their happiness in our self-seeking love.
When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” He is commanding that our love, which has now found its fulfillment in God’s love, be the measure and the content of our love for others. Jesus is commanding that our inner self-seeking desire be transformed into God-seeking desire that overflows and extends itself to our neighbors.
Paul said, “For he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law…” (Romans 13:8). Can we fulfill the law? Paul knew that radical love for others utterly depended on our relationship to God. In Romans 8:3-4 he says, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh (self reliance), but according to the Spirit (God-reliance).” Thus, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is not something we can do on our own. We do it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The first commandment is the basis of the second commandment. The second commandment is a visible expression of the first commandment. This simply means that our genuine thirst for God is the result for our love for others.
I would like to brag about Djibouti House Church not because the members wanted me to but because they have inspired and touched my heart. Ray wanted us to pray for him so that he would love others that are not like him. Last week, he took a friend home that everyone thinks is weird. Ray himself thinks his friend is weird but he befriended him in order to share the gospel.
Philip is one of the college students that gets on his knees during the worship time. This semester, he intentionally wanted roommates that are not believers. A Muslim student from Saudi Arabia and another non-believer became his roommates. They smoke cigarettes and sometimes they even smoked illegal substances in the room. He wanted to change dorm but stayed just so that he can share the gospel.
The Muslim student quit school and decided to return to Saudi Arabia. Philip wanted an opportunity to share the gospel and asked everyone to pray for him. Philip and his friends had dinner with his Muslim friend the night before he left for Saudi Arabia. During the dinnertime, Philip could not share the gospel because everyone was too loud.
The next morning Philip woke up and went to his class and returned to the dorm, but he felt awkward to share the gospel. So Philip went to his next class not knowing what time his Muslim friend may leave. Philip quickly marked all the A’s on the multiple-choice quiz and rushed back to his dorm. Upon returning, Philip found his Muslim friend and shared the gospel with him. Although the Muslim friend had reasons not to accept the gospel, the seed has been planted.
If we interpret the command “Love your neighbor as yourself” as self-loving to be the source for the love for others, we contradict the command, “deny yourself.” Our self-love must lose it’s self in God so that His love becomes the source of love for others. This is the very art of losing self. Here, even when we are persecuted we can rejoice because self is no longer the means of our joy.
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