In the 1970s there was a song, “The Greatest Love of All”, by George Benson, which was at the top of the charts. The conclusion of this song was that learning to love one’s self is the greatest love of all. Though the idea seems good, it is not exactly aligned to what the Bible says. Jesus tells us the two greatest commandments; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark12:30-31) To love our neighbor as ourselves, we are to love them in the same manner, to the same extent, and in the same way that we love ourselves; that is the floor standard when it comes to loving others. But the problem with most of us is that we are either too selfabsorbed or too empty and insecure. If we are the former, we find it hard to get along with others, let alone love. If we are the latter, there is nothing much to expect from us because we don’t have much to give. The Bible teaches us this:
Learning to love yourself is to know the greatest Lover of all. Paul reminds us in his letter to the church of Philippi that among other things, we are to “dwell on whatever is true” (Phil4:8). The truth is that God places great value on us. The bible tells us a lot about how much worth God has placed on us – He has redeemed us not by precious stones, silver or gold but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and nothing can separate us from His Love. How much are we worth? We are worth a lot! Paul goes on to say that whatever we have seen, heard, learned and received we are to put it into practice (Phil4:9). The solution to relational problems is to have a great relationship with our God. We develop that by spending time with Him. Everything else that we learn from His word, everything that we have seen, everything that we have received, we are to put it into practice.
Learning to love your neighbor is to ACCEPT them as you want to be accepted. We are to love our neighbor by accepting them the way God has accepted us. We accept them because we can empathize with them, because God commanded us, and because we follow Christ. We are to see ourselves as God sees us, to be thankful to God for loving us, and then to love others in the same way and to the same extent. God accepts us, and so we are to accept others. This can be hard especially when there are difficult, demanding, disappointing, and destructive people around us. But we are to remember that we are the same as these people, and God accepts us anyway.
Learning to love yourself is to FORGIVE all as you expect to be forgiven. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he writes, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”(Col3:13). He repeats it to the Ephesians, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”(Eph4:32) When Christ died on the cross, God has forgiven us all our sins. How can we not forgive when we have been forgiven? Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love leaves the hurts and offenses of others at the foot of the Cross and lets them go! Love hands these offenses over to Christ. Forgiveness can be hard, and most of us would say we can’t forgive but through God’s power, we can.
Let us dwell on this truth: Because Jesus loves me enough to die for me, I am a person of great worth. Knowing this enables me to love others because I see their value in Christ as well.