To “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” – You Have to Love Yourself

You have to love yourself in order to adequately love your neighbor as yourself. #IdentityinChrist #SelfReflection #Christian

To “love your neighbor as yourself” – You have to love yourself

Jesus tells us that the second greatest commandment is to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39 NIV

And throughout the bible we see examples of love and sacrifice for one another. One of the greatest stories of this connection with fellow man is through David and Jonathan.

Love your neighbor…

We read in 1 Samuel 18:1 (NASB) Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. 

We can see the level of love Jonathan had for David in verses 3 and 4 of the same chapter – Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan was willing to risk his relationship with his father, as well as becoming king so that David would instead.

In 1 Samuel 20:16-17 (NASB) we read again-  So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord require it at the hands of David’s enemies.” Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life. 

In return, following both Jonathan and Saul’s death, David made an oath to Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth. 2 Samuel 9:1,7 (NASB) Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.”

…as yourself.

The above story is an amazing example of love and caring for others. This was done because both Jonathan and David loved each other as he loved himself or as he loved his own life. 

So that means, that’s how much they loved themselves!

The commandment often (and rightfully so) gets focused on how to treat someone else. To not be prideful and selfish.

But here’s the part that struck me many years ago when my insecurities were at their highest- “What if I don’t love myself?!”

This is also a point that has been brought up to me with some of my therapy clients in the last couple of years. “But I don’t love myself.”

We are called to love ourselves

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying love yourself MORE than the people around you. We are specifically told not to do that.

Romans 12:10(NIV) Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

But remember, you are a creation of God, too!

There was a night I was putting my daughter to bed (I think she was about four at the time). I told her how blessed I was to have Daddy, her and her brother in my life.  She reached out her sweet little hand and touched my face, saying, “Remember you were made, too, Mommy.”

Wow. Tears. Because, in truth, I had forgotten. I wasn’t thanking God for the blessings He had created in making me a person.

We are to celebrate all of God’s creations, which means ourselves as well.

Psalm 139:13-14

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

When we don’t love ourselves

If the love you have for yourself is pretty low or nonexistent, the bar to love others isn’t going to be very high.

Low self-esteem and self-worth drags down thoughts and emotions. The general outlook of the person tends to be negative. Without even realizing it, your lowered self-esteem can breed bitterness, resentment, and jealousy towards others.

Your insight and perception can even become skewed.

Even if you work on building others up. The lack of love you have for yourself will be evident. Evident to your children, your spouse, and everyone around you. That is not the model you want to represent.

How to love yourself

That’s the difficult task, right? Because it often doesn’t just happen because we know we should. It’s going to take time and effort.

  • Learn the difference between pride and having humble confidence so you feel comfortable with the concept of loving yourself.
  • Make a list of your positive attributes. If you really are struggling, ask your spouse or someone you trust to help you with the list.
  • Work on increasing positive self-talk. You have to shut off the negative reel that keeps playing in your head!
  • Give God the glory! Your intelligence, talents, gifts – He gave them to you! Recognize that when you acknowledge the positives about yourself, you are actually showing gratitude and thankfulness to God.

I pray that you recognize the importance of loving yourself so that you can better love your neighbor!

God bless!

Melissa

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About Melissa

Melissa is a Christian mental health therapist, wife and mommy of two. She works with children, teens, adults, and couples to better manage their distress and hopefully become closer to God in the process.

42 comments on “To “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” – You Have to Love Yourself

    • This can be such a hard lesson to learn. We can be so good at putting others first, but to truly love them the way God wants us to, we have to recognize our own worth in Christ as well. Thank you for sharing your experience. God bless!

  1. God loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us, yet some people think that loving ourselves is “un-Christian”. I never understood that. If we are to be like Christ, we are to love what Jesus loves, and He loves us.

    • Yes! This is a very hard concept for many people. Somehow it gets viewed as prideful or conceited. When we are honoring and thankful to God for what He has created (us) we are giving Him glory. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  2. Yes, yes, yes!! You give out what you take in, and when you don’t love yourself, or see yourself as His creation—you won’t see others as His either! I love what your daughter said “remember you were made, too, mommy.” Such a great reminder even for me!

    • God uses our kids in such amazing ways to remind us of so many things that we forget or gloss over! Yes, we do have to recognize our own worth before we can fully recognize other’s. Thank you for stopping by and reading. God bless!

  3. I love this! I absolutely believe that we can’t love others until our own cup of love is overflowing. It can be difficult to love ourselves (God’s creation) without feeling like others will see us as conceited. Thanks for sharing this!

    Sydney Meek | meeklyloving.wordpress.com

    • It can be difficult to know feel like we ourselves are being conceited or feeling like others view us that way. But, yes, we have to recognize our own worth and God’s creation. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  4. Thank you for this message! It’s so good to see a practical application of how to love yourself; I hear the message a lot but actually have not seen anyone give a step by step on how to. This is really good, thank you 💕

    • I’m glad you found the post beneficial. As a list checker, rule-follower, and therapist, I guess it’s a bit ingrained in me to give practical “how to’s”! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  5. Wow, Melissa! This is exactly what I needed today! We do tend to forget ourselves sometimes, but we must first love ourselves and then pour out love onto others.

    • I’m glad you found the post beneficial Keisha! We do often forget about loving ourselves. It really is a necessary component in loving others. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  6. This is such a great post! So often we overlook the loving ourselves part, and that is understood in the passage. I think this is especially true of women. We need to receive God’s love for us and grasp it before we can truly love others well!

    • Thank you Katie! I agree, I think women especially struggle with this concept. Too much self-doubt, false beliefs, and insecurities get in the way. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  7. False humility pretends we don’t have any gifts but that is not true. It takes discernment to really understand our strengths and weaknesses and then to extend compassion towards ourselves!

    • Yes, the ability to extend compassion towards ourselves seems to be a topic that is often discouraged for the false believe it is conceited. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your insights. God bless!

  8. We need to experience God’s love so that we have the ability to love others. When we ourselves don’t experience love, it’s hard to give love. God’s love is enough, and we can ask Him to help us to experience it so we accept the way God made us.

    • Yes, we have to be able to fully receive God’s love before we can understand how to best give love to others. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and insights. God bless!

    • I’m glad you found the post beneficial. We can get so focused on loving others that we forget the importance of loving ourselves through acknowledgement of God’s love. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

    • Absolutely. We are to be a reflection of God’s love but if we are not adequately able to take in His love and experience it ourselves we won’t be able to reflect it to others. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thought. God bless!

  9. What a beautiful insight! I’ve never thought in order to love others, you have to love yourself. Your daughter was so wise, even at 4! God used her little voice to teach you truth! I can absolutely see how negativity towards myself, causes those around me to suffer too. When I’m feeling less than confident, I neglect my family. Not in immense ways, but small thoughtful actions go to the way side! Thank you for your insight! I needed this word!

    • It’s so true. We don’t always realize how much our lack of self-love hinders our ability to adequately love others. As God’s creation we are supposed to appreciate and love ourselves as a way to glorify Him. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  10. YES! I’m writing a blog post on this very subject. About how we must love ourselves to love our neighbors and that is why there is a great deal of meanness in our world, it’s masking pain.

    • Very true! Our self-loathing pours out of ourselves and onto others. It’s tremendously sad. We have become a world of comparisons. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I look forward to reading your post! God bless!

    • She is! God is going to use her for some pretty awesome things, I believe. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  11. That’s a unique perspective to take in that passage of scripture. A well that is dry cannot hope to provide water for anyone else. When you’re empty you can’t hope to pour into the lives of others like we are called to do by Christ. Remembering we are each made for a purpose helps during the times when we just don’t know whats going on around us and life seems to be happening to us rather than us happening to life. Awesome article thank you for sharing!

    • Yes! A dry well cannot provide water for anyone else. It is so important that we remember our path is unique, as are we. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and insights. God bless!

  12. Hi Melissa! I really enjoyed reading this post — especially this: “Learn the difference between pride and having humble confidence so you feel comfortable with the concept of loving yourself.” Self-love can feel awkward and tilt towards pride, but I love your term “humble confidence.”

    • Thank you Joy! Yes, when we have humble confidence it is a recognition of Who we get our talents and gifts and the gratefulness for those blessings! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

    • Out of the mouth of babes, indeed! We learn so much from our children don’t we! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  13. So enjoyed reading this today, and thanks for sharing it at Sunday Scripture Blessings. I too posted on this commandment, but when I read yours, I thought how true that we need to love ourselves. Thank you for sharing your list of how to love yourself and will print it off as a reminder to myself and when I think others are not feeling their self worth. Love how your daughter told you that…they are so wise for their years sometimes.

    • I’m glad you found the post enjoyable and beneficial! I hope it serves a good reminder for others as well. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. God bless!

  14. Hi Melissa! Yes – this! I remember not too many years ago the Aha moment I had reading this scripture for the millionth time! I, too, realized I couldn’t do a very good job of loving others if I couldn’t love myself first. Thanks for sharing this important truth and for reminding us to love ourselves God’s way!

    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

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