by Rev. James Wong
The command of God ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ first appears in Leviticus 19:18. Paul says the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 (NLT). And James calls this the Royal Law (See James 2:8). Jesus says the whole teaching of the law is this; loving God wholeheartedly and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (see Matthew 22:37-40).
Let us take a closer look at this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ You have to love yourself first before you can love anyone else. If you do not love yourself, it is impossible to love others. You cannot give away love if you do not have love in the first place because you cannot give away what you don’t have. To love others, you must learn to love yourself first. This is not about selfish thinking. It is about being aware of the emotion that drives your pattern of thinking and your relational habits.
When you don’t love yourself. Whether you love yourself or not will soon surface in the ways you relate to others. If you feel inadequate you will get critical about others. If you don’t like yourself you will find things wrong with others. If you feel that you are a failure, you will tend to think that others look down on you. If you have a low self-esteem you will want to act superior to disguise your inferior feelings by controlling others. So, generally, if you feel bad about yourself, all your loved ones and your friends will suffer. To get out from this emotional trap, it is important to learn to ‘love yourself.’ Here are two important truths from the Bible.
Don’t compare with others. There will always be people who are more talented, smarter, richer, wittier or more popular than you are. There is no need to compare with them. God created each one of us in his image (Gen 1:26-27). It is not just about the good look. Each of us is endowed by God with something good and unique that resemble his image. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus...” Ephesians 2:10a (NLT). You are a unique individual and you do not have to be a carbon copy of any body. If you want to compare with others, let them be your inspiration.
Self acceptance. Loving yourself is a matter of self acceptance, of accepting your strengths and shortcomings. When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you feel good about yourself? Can you fully accept who you are? God loves us and have forgiven the dark side of our lives. He has called us to be his children (See John 1:12). The more you know how much God loves you, the more you will learn to love yourself. The more you can love yourself, the more you can love others. You have to choose to be your own best friend.