Matthew 22:37-40 | Galatians 5:17a | Romans 5:8 | 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”(Matthew 22:37-40 NLT)
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to explain who your neighbor is. (In case you missed it…it can be anyone.)
But sometimes reading “Love your neighbor as yourself” makes you ask another, somewhat odd question: What does “as yourself” mean? Typically, we think of this as meaning Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. And that is accurate enough, but ‘as yourself’ can go beyond that. This phrase could have at least two more meanings.
First, it could mean Love your neighbor the same way you love yourself. In our video, Miriam said it means to be kind and patient, and forgive others. Lawrence asked, “Yeah, but do you do that for yourself?” (BURN.) So…do you?
Are you kind and patient with yourself? Are you letting yourself off the hook for messing up? If you cannot do it for yourself, can you really do it for other people?
Second, it could mean Love your neighbor while you love yourself. When should you love your neighbor? Whenever. All the time. When should you love yourself? Same answer.
Ultimately, it seems that Jesus’ point was that it is just as important to love others as it is to love yourself.
Does it seem hard to believe that God wants you to love yourself? Why? Because of how messed up you can be? That’s your sinful nature.
The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.(Galatians 5:17a NLT)
But God loves us despite all that. He sent his son Jesus to lay down his life for us, fully aware of our sinful nature.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.(Romans 5:8 NLT)
You are that loveable. Can you love yourself as much as you love others? In the same way? At the same time?
Questions for Group Discussion
- Is it possible to love other people more than yourself? If so, is that okay?
- How do you think God wants you to feel about yourself? If God loves you as much as he says he does, will self-loathing make him happy? How about thinking you’re the greatest of all time?
Application: That Kind of Love
Do you have a younger sibling (or even a pet) that you love? Think about that kind of love for a moment. Then read this oft-quoted passage…
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT)
This selfless love is God’s love for you. How similar is this love to the love you have for your sibling (or pet)? Go through each attribute of love in the scripture above (patient, kind, etc.) and think of how you can love yourself.
Then write one sentence for each attribute this way: I can be patient with myself by not getting so angry when I fall asleep without having brushed my teeth.