Love Yourself – Is that buried within the Greatest Commandment?

Most Christians can rattle off the Greatest Commandment on cue:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind… and love your neighbor as yourself. (See Matthew chapter 22.)

And most of us would agree that a large chunk of the world’s problems would be easily addressed if we were all loving our neighbors:

Abuse. Slavery. Poverty. Misogyny. Adultery. Racism. Sexism. Greed. Jealousy. Murder. Stealing. Lying. Divorce. Corruption. Rebellion. Slander. Rape. Betrayal. War.

It sounds simplistic, but wouldn’t pure, sacrificial, unconditional love address these problems? Surely.

I wonder if perhaps most of us are “loving our neighbors as ourselves” already. And I wonder if perhaps the real problem is that we don’t love ourselves and so the way we express “loving our neighbors as ourselves” is just incredibly flawed.

I’m not talking about loving ourselves as in positive self talk, good self esteem, or putting all of our own needs ahead of everyone else’s. I mean the sort of loving yourself that comes when we’re living truthfully in humility and vulnerability and bravery. The kind that comes from being secure internally, free from comparison and competition, knowing that we belong to Someone, and accepting of the fact that we already are amazing. The kind that springs from understanding our identity in a great God that carefully created us with the purest of motives for the sole purpose of loving us, lavishly and unconditionally.

Maybe the world’s problem isn’t that we aren’t loving our neighbors as ourselves. Maybe the problem is that we are.

Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor well.

Dear friends, I’m not really posing a solution here – more of a question: How do we love ourselves and how does that translate into loving others? If we really want to impact the world for good and empower others to do the same, then we’d better be good at love. How are you doing at “loving yourself” and “loving your neighbor as yourself” these days? And how do you “love yourself” in a practical, tangible way while avoiding self-obsession, selfishness, and self-indulgence? (Big questions, I know.)



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About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • Aprille
    5 November 2013 at 9:28 am

    Thought provoking question!
    Aprille recently posted..She made time for me {takeaways from #allume}My Profile

  • Jaime
    7 November 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Yep definitely big questions and worth mulling over I think. I’ve always noticed I’m a bit harsher on myself than on others and find it easier to see the unique gifts and opportunities God has for others, not in a “poor me” way but in an optimism and faith for other people way. I think it’s because we are so familiar with our own internal world and obviously not privy to others’. Hmmm…just dribbling thoughts out. Want to spend some time thinking this over too. Thanks!

  • Drew
    7 November 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Great question Adriel! Here are some thoughts regarding your questions. I think you are pointing to a realization that there is no separation from self and other. To love ourselves, I think it is necessary to immerse ourselves in the deep human experience through prayer, contemplation, meditation and develop a deep experiential understanding of the divine love within us all that transcends our materialistic desires, our likes, dislikes, cravings, attachments and aversions. When we sit quietly and observe these tendencies without reaction or clinging to these tendencies we begin to uncover the divine love within us all, the holy spirit. We become humbled to the human condition that we all struggle with, the dissatisfaction we all experience with materialistic craving and clinging. The grasping for one sensate pleasure and avoidance of another. We begin to realize that there is no sensate pleasure that will satisfy the way the peace, love, and contentment the holy spirit within us brings. We begin to realize that we have already been given, with grace, everything we need. That there is nothing that we can do to become anything greater than what has already been given. We have achieved the divine love by the grace of the spirit that has given us this amazing life. The more we react to the materialistic desires, cravings, thoughts about progress, obtaining possessions/knowledge, becoming something greater, the more we become separated from the holy spirit within, the divine love given to us all, and the more separate we believe we are from others. We begin competing with others, with the misunderstanding that they are separate from us when they are sharing the same sensations, emotions, thoughts, and divine love, emanating from the same divine spirit. When they are an experiential extension of the divine spirit’s sensate experience existing within us all. I think the more we cling to and believe in the separate self, the more separated we become from the divine love within us all.


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