Cultural Jesus · Interpretation · Understanding

What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Matthew 22:39


Gotta Love Ourselves?

 I have often heard in Sunday School classes and small fellowships, (heck – even in big churches!) that in order to love God we need to first love ourselves.

Sort of like when Jesus said in Matt 22:39 …

Thou shalt love thy neighbor after you love thyself.

What?  Is that what the Lord meant?

No.  As a matter of fact, it may be important to simply read what Matthew actually records from the Masters lips.

Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Notice that the Lord made a command with an assumption embedded within it.  The assumption is that we already love ourselves.  The command does not say, “You shall love your neighbour after you have fully loved and honored and satisfied thyself.”

Lets read it once more

Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This seems so obvious, but I still find the occasional believer who has not read what Jesus said but merely listened to some teacher refer to this passage in propping up his humanistic message.  The teaching goes somewhat like this.

In order to love your neighbor, God said that you have to love yourself first.  Only a believer full of love for themselves can supply love for their neighbor.

Is it not obvious that when Jesus said to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, self love was assumed.  This self love is the standard that Jesus was using to compare the amount of love that needs to be expressed to the neighbor.

Love myselfTo Love Ourselves is the Problem

As a matter of fact, it seems that self love is a problem.

2 Timothy 3:2-5

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,

treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Verse 2 includes self love but it sho isn’t in a list of admirable qualities.  It is also interesting that the culmination of this type of life will produce an appearance of godliness, but alas, denying the power of godliness.

Finally, Paul says – Avoid such people.

Wow.  Kinda harsh a bit, Paul?  He didn’t say to teach them, or to pity them, or to correct them, or to love them ….

Avoid such people.

Jesus also had something else to say about self love.  In Luke 9:23 he states that denying ones self is the way of discipleship, not to find some nebulous self love as the foundation of loving others.

Luke 9:23

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

i-love-myself-quote-1I don’t know about you, but when I have fallen into this thinking, I just can’t seem to love myself enough.  I gotta coddle myself just one more time, one more pleasure, one more right exercised, one more time of me me me.

My problem is that I love myself more than my neighbor, more than Jesus.  I hate it!

Lets read the Word for what it says, not what we want it to say!

Matthew 22:39

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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