Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Often whenever we talk about Jesus’ command that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves, the question arises, “But what if we don’t love ourselves? If we don’t love ourselves, how can we love others?”

It’s a valid question. I’ve even wondered about this myself from time to time. But the real problem is that we’re not understanding Jesus in the first place, which is why that question throws us off.

Jesus is not saying that we need to love ourselves as much as possible so that we’ll have enough love inside to share with others. In fact, Jesus isn’t telling us anything in this statement other than that we need to go and love people. That’s it.

His point about “as we love ourselves” simply means that everyone wants to eat. So, as much as you want to feed yourself, feed another person. Everyone likes to have clothes to wear. So, in the same way we should want those without clothes to have them too.

This isn’t about not wanting food as much as we should. It’s about simply wanting for others what we automatically want for ourselves. Self-image is not issue. Compassion for others is.

So, the problem is not that we need to love ourselves more and more in order to obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The problem is that we do not love our neighbors in the same way that we love our own comfort.

Now, the question we ask about our own lack of self-esteem is also worth addressing. I do understand that many of us struggle with this issue. At the core I think the problem here is that we actually think too much about ourselves rather than not enough.

See, if God has said that He loves you and that He has forgiven your sins and that He thinks of you 24/7, then who are you to say otherwise? Are you suggesting that you’re the one person in the Universe that even God cannot love or accept?

If the God of the Universe says that you’re worth dying for, then all you have to do is to believe it.  If you forget it, remind yourself of it. If you need to write yourself a note, do that.

Better yet, God says that if we will put the needs of others ahead of our own, then we ourselves will be healed and restored.

In Isaiah God says that instead of fasting to get what we want from Him, we should instead share our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless into our homes. When we do that, God says:

“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:6-9)

“…If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”-  (Isaiah 58:10-12)

Either way, we’re commanded to love others as we love ourselves. To share our food and our shelter and our comfort with those who don’t have any. If we lack self-esteem, we can overcome that by spending more time with those who have less than we do, and God will lift our hearts as we share in their sorrows.




1 comment:

NoahM said...

Excellent article Keith. Here's another on the topic of how our poor self-esteem gets in the way "Low Self-Esteem, Satan's Deadliest Weapon" http://www.inspiredchristian.org/cyber/012901pa.html