Unconditional Love of Self
Today’s article is a follow-up to yesterday’s blog article on unconditional love, in which Jesus explained about the greatest commandment.
And while loving God and the whole of His creation is the greatest commandment, and includes everything, Jesus singled out one portion of this all inclusive commandment in Matthew 22 as being like it.
39. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
This is telling us that in order to truly love our neighbor, we must also love ourselves, and this is not saying that we have to look at ourselves as Narcissus looked at himself with a selfish self-love, but that we must love ourselves in the same perfect love as God loves us.
John also picks up on this love relationship between God and us and our brothers (neighbors) in 1 John 4:19-21.
19. We love because He first loved us.
20. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
21. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
If we do not have this perfect unconditional love within ourselves, which includes loving ourselves as God loves us, we cannot love our neighbors, which we contend includes all other living beings, both human and animal, because they are part of God’s perfect creation.
So if someone does something that is against us or someone else, and we don’t still love that person for whom God wants them to be, and don’t have the capacity to forgive them if they truly repent, then the love of God is not in us.
Yes, we are to recognize the evil that people do, and we don’t have to like them or trust them because of what they do, but we still have to love them as God loves us.
I can tell you from my personal experience of ministering in a maximum security prison for many years that it is impossible to minister to any of the inmates if you cannot love them through what they have done, and we always had a waiting list of men wanting to join us because of the unconditional love we showed them.
This is loving your neighbor as yourself.