Loving Others AS Yourself

Back to the Beginning

While immediately associated with romantic love, Valentine’s Day’s ties to romantic love actually did not take place until Chaucer’s poetry in the 14th Century. Instead, Valentine’s Day originated in commemoration of at least one early Christian saint named Valentinus, martyred between AD 197 and AD 496 for their acts of sacrificial love.

This focus on sacrificial love – of focusing on others over self – ties with what Jesus said that ALL scripture hangs on (is summed up in and depends on):

Valentine 1

Paul amplifies Jesus’ words by connecting them specifically with new life activity in our relationships:

Valentine 2

So, loving God above all and then loving others AS yourself not only provide THE most important principles for our lives, but also THE most important article of clothing for our new natures in Christ.

A long-time struggle for me in living this principle lies with fulfilling the second of these commands, loving others AS yourself.

What if you don’t love yourself?

For me, years of chronic depression involved a great deal of self hate. Outside of that struggle, failures in relationships led to significant self dislike, while comparisons showed even more reason for wishing I was anyone but me. And this selfish focus blocked my ability to love others.

Over time, the impact of Jesus’ sacrificial love changed how I viewed myself. As my focus went from feelings, emotions and comparisons to how He saw me, I began to realize not only the importance of self love but that it must be rooted in God’s view of me and how He exercises His love.

Valentine 3

Focusing on AS

Realizing God’s sacrificial love for me helped bring me to a point of self love that allowed a focus outside of myself, one intent on love God and others AS I am loved.

The commands to love others and to love self are not two separate commands. Rather, they are two parts of one command to live out love for God, a love that consumes the heart, soul and mind.

Love for self does not include selfish pursuits that make us feel good or happy, and self love does not justify fulfilling the flesh’s wants and desires. This selfishness provides only a temporary emotional happiness fix.

Instead, self love involves accepting ourselves – personality, physical appearance, even weaknesses and faults – because our own identity lies grounded in Christ’s unconditional love for us exactly AS we are right now. Out of this flows a love for others that comes through in our attitudes, actions and words as we live in relationship with them.

When our identity exists grounded in Christ, in His love for and acceptance of us, we discover a self love that gives us the capacity to love others AS Jesus exhorted. To help grasp this, think about what’s at the heart of you feeling loved, of your feeling genuine acceptance of who you are AS a person. Gifts and even kind acts mean very little in the absence of genuine acceptance of who you are AS a person.

Something significant happens in how we view ourselves when our our Christian identity involves being accepted by Christ and is not earned by works or moral standing. This creates a love for self that transfers to how we love others; it serves as an example of HOW we are to love others.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day

With the idea of Valentine’s Day’s original intent in mind along with understanding the tie between loving others and loving self, celebrate Valentine’s Day with fresh perspective. Celebrate the sacrificial love that seeks for the greatest good, that accepts how God made you and others. Celebrate a love that sacrifices any focus on self and instead embraces personalities and makes allowances for faults. Live love that comes only through complete focus on God’s love for us.

DISCUSSION: How does loving yourself change how you love others, and, ultimately, how God’s love exists in your life?

25 thoughts on “Loving Others AS Yourself

  1. I don't know if this makes sense or not Kari, but when I love myself there is a settledness in loving others. There is no worry about comparison or inferiority. There is a relaxation which is prevalent. Does that make sense?
    My recent post Running

    • Yes, it does, and I'm glad you used the wording you did. When we love ourselves AS Christ loved us, there's no need to compare or feel inferior. We are all his favorites. We can relax and be who He made us to be as well as encourage others to do the same.

    • I would add that when I'm comfortable with me then I really don't think about me much. I'm able to look outward, notice others, and love them.

  2. Kari, I wrote on the same topic today. The 13th of Feb. is Madly in Love with ME Day. I love the way you said: "Love for self does not include selfish pursuits that make us feel good or happy, and self love does not justify fulfilling the flesh’s wants and desires. This selfishness provides only a temporary emotional happiness fix." It's so true. When we are blessed to know God's perfect sacrificial love then we are able to love ourselves and pursue loving others as we've been loved.
    My recent post Madly In Love with Me Day

  3. To love others is to love ourselves I think. When you love someone a lot of times that love flows back to you. I also love knowing that "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). Loving covers not only your own sin but the sin of the one you love. It is hard to love someone and hold their sin against them…. likewise if you love someone deeply they tend to not hold your short comings against you as well.

    We need Christ to love each other deeply for he shows us how. To be loved by someone who gives you that love freely without condition is wonderful and to love someone like that is as well.

    May we all learn to love deeply in all ways.

    • This makes a lot of sense, Mark. We learn to love ourselves by loving others, but we also love others better by learning to better love ourselves. It all flows from Christ's love for us & learning to love as He loves. Loving deeply in all ways is the goal, since all of scripture hinges on love.

  4. Awesome reminder! Just read Blackaby's commentary on the value of value based upon 1 Cor 13: it leaves no doubts, it assumes the best in others, it endures all things,it is ever hopeful! Wish Valentine's Day focused on genuine love…

    • So very true, Caleb. And I see this as a being an issue for a lot of moms, women who are my good friends. My prayer for them is one of "health and wellness" because I know how much it will enhance all of their lives and how it requires a self love that only Jesus can cultivate.

  5. I like Mark's comment and agree. My hubby says you get what you give. If you love someone unconditionally, express that love by being willing to overlook things, be willing to put their needs first, then indeed it comes back to you. I am so glad we can focus on the one who loves us best and most and FIRST, and through Him we are able to love and accept ourselves and share His love with the world. Thanks for sharing another thoughtful post Kari.

    • When we love others, the love of Christ certainly becomes more real within us. Even if others don't return genuine love, knowing I'm pleasing Jesus is enough for me. Thanks, Mary.

    • Thinking “self-respect” does give a different perspective. Perhaps loving self includes self respect though. I cannot get passed that the accuracy really depends on our source for that love & respect.

    • Oh yeah, having kids definitely changed my view of love. First, it changed my understanding of how God loves me as my Heavenly Father. Then, I understood how I needed to learn to love things in myself as I saw them coming to life in my child and to no longer think of them as bad but as part of who I am. But for me, loving others really only truly came after I learned that I could love myself simply because God loved me. Definitely transformational love.

  6. Great post.
    For years I thought love was based on my performance. If I performed well then I was worthy of love. This really hindered my relationship with God. But when I began to ask God for help, He was faithful to answer. He's been showing me how WRONG I've been for most of my life. I can never earn love. I must accept it. Then I am able to offer it as God intends.

    hope you had a great Valentines day. I did!

    • Realizing that we cannot EARN love truly is transformational. When we realize how its actually freely given, we open ourselves up to receive more love AND to give it more. Definitely changes your approach to living. I did have a great Valentine's Day. I'm glad you did as well.

  7. Great thoughts Kari,

    I think in order to truly love another person stems from loving our self. If we can’t even love the person in the mirror how can we love someone else. I think we can care and love them but deep love comes from fist loving our self. Just my first thoughts when reading your post.

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