Summary: We cannot obey Jesus' command to "love your neighbor as yourself" until we learn how to love ourselves properly.
A. I want to begin with two thought provoking questions:
1. Question #1: Do you love yourself?
2. Question #2: Should you love yourself?
B. Do you remember Whitney Houston’s number one hit song called “Greatest Love of All”?
1. The chorus went like this: Because the greatest love of all. Is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all, Inside of me.
The greatest love of all, Is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all.”
2. I think we would all agree with some of the things in this song, but there are also some things we would disagree with strongly.
3. First of all, there is an absence of God - The message of this song is very humanistic.
4. Second, The truth of the matter is this - the greatest love of all is not self-love – rather, the greatest love of all is God’s love!
C. Nevertheless, the reason I wanted to mention this song is because I want us to understand that self-love is important and necessary.
1. I know that statement might surprises you.
2. We probably have never heard a sermon on the forgotten commandment: “LOVE YOURSELF!”, but that is what I want to speak with you about today.
D. Today we are returning to our sermon series – All You Need is Love.
1. So far we have learned that love is the most important thing – it is the key to everything.
2. A second thing we have learned is that God is love and is the source of love.
3. The third thing we have learned has to do with what love really is – what we learned is that love is a decision, a choice, a commitment, and it is a verb - action…behavior…demonstration.
E. What I want us to learn today is that the decision to love and the demonstration of love in action must first be applied to ourselves, before we can effectively apply it to others.
1. Let’s look again at Jesus’ answer to the question “which is the most important commandment?”
2. Jesus’ answer was: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39)
3. In that answer we see that Jesus has given us two great love commandments that summarize our prime responsibility to our Creator and to our fellow humans – Love God and love people.
4. Notice that each law was given with a qualifier to help us know how to love God and others.
a. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
b. We are to love our neighbor as ourself.
5. What does it mean for us to “love your neighbor as yourself”?
a. Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:28 parallel Jesus’ command: “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”
b. In other words, our love for others is to be patterned after our love for ourselves.
F. “Wait a minute!” someone might argue, “That’s not biblical, is it? We’re not supposed to love ourselves. Doesn’t the Bible command us to deny ourselves and take up our cross? Didn’t Jesus say that if I love my life, I will lose it? Didn’t someone come up with the JOY acrostic: Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last?” Isn’t self-love right up there with pride and conceit? And shouldn’t we avoid those things?”
1. Those are all good questions.
2. Some of those ideas are right and some of them are wrong or are just misunderstood.
3. So let me try to explain why proper self-love is right and biblical.
I. Biblical Reasons to Love Yourself.
A. First of all, it is right to love ourselves because we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26).
1. We also are to love others for this very reason – they also are made in God’s image.
2. This is the Bible’s first defining word about us and about who we are.
3. When God took that dirt and fashioned it and breathed life into it, he created us in His image.
4. And I like the words of the old, popular tee-shirt, “God don’t make no junk.”
5. You and I are God’s image on this earth.
6. Loving ourselves begins when we get to know the God who made us, and realize that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.
7. We have supreme worth and value simply because God made us in His image
B. Second, it is right to love ourselves because self-love is the basis for loving others.