In a world where selfishness is the norm, self love is priority and the only happiness that matters is mine, what does loving others really look like?
Before we look at this in a practical sense let’s take a look at what Scripture says:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” - Mark 12:30-31
Three Principles Of What loving others really looks like
Loving others requires loving God first
The Bible is very clear when it comes to love. 1 John 4:8 simply tells us that God is love. We also have a beautiful description in 1 Corinthians 13 of what love really looks like and what God’s character is. If God Himself is love, the two cannot be separated. When we choose to love, we are choosing to showcase the character of God.
Love is shown in action. It does not seek its own. The greatest example of that is God giving us His only Son Jesus. Love has the potential for greatness but that greatness can only be seen when it is given. Love also cannot be forced. It is like a freewill offering. When we choose to love, we choose to give. We are not focused on gain or self but focused on others.
I find it amazing that God has trusted us with the ability to love. He actually has given us as humans the capacity to be able to reflect His character to others. Wow.
Love is void of selfishness
If you haven’t already noticed, love is a choice. Naturally as humans we are prone to selfishness (Jeremiah 17:9-10). It is the way out hearts are set up, it’s one of the effects of sin. In choosing love, we opt out of this selfishness. In fact, the only way to avoid selfishness is to love, because the only way for our hearts to be changed is by reflecting God and His character (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Loving others does not mean neglecting yourself
I can hear some of you screaming, what about the ‘as yourself’ part? Believe it or not, it is easier to love yourself than it is to love others. Really? What about those of us that have low self esteem?
Let’s look at it this way, what does loving yourself look like? It can be as simple as cooking a nice meal, buying yourself a new outfit or engaging in your favourite activity. These are simple tasks we often do without even realising it. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is an element of love for self in all of us.
I think God said we should love others the way we love ourselves because He wanted us to see that when we choose to cook for ourselves, we can add a few extra pieces of pasta to the pot and include someone else in there too. The next time we buy ourselves new clothes, we can also think about giving away some old ones. How about engaging in your favourite activity and allowing someone to tag along with you?
Loving others does not mean neglecting self. It means thinking of others the way thinking about yourself is second nature.
In closing, although I have been in the church my entire life God is still revealing to me what being a Christian really looks like. I realise i’ve been living my life with me as the focus. I took my eyes off God, neglected my neighbour and focused on myself. My prayer is that God will help me to truly live a life that reflects His love in every direction. Are you willing to go on that journey with me?
What do you understand about loving others? What does loving your neighbour look like in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments below and come join the fun on Instagram.