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Does Jesus want us to love ourself first or others? MATTHEW 22:39

MATTHEW 22:39—Does Jesus want us to love ourself first others?

 

PROBLEM: Jesus says in Matthew that we are to love neighbor as ourselves. But, if we love ourselves first, before we love neighbor, this would be putting self before neighbor. Is Jesus teaching that we should be selfish?

: Loving others as we love ourselves can be understood in different ways, but in is Jesus implying that we should be selfish. The Bible condemns “lovers of themselves” (2 Tim. 3:2). exhorts us not to consider own interests, but also the interest of others (Phil. 2:4). are three ways to understand the phrase, “love others as yourself.”

First, some that Jesus is saying that we ought to love others as we ought to love ourselves, namely, unselfishly. This, however, seems far too subtle and dialectical Jesus’ normally straight-forward moral assertions. would have been more forthright to simply say do not be selfish than the tangled command of loving oneself unselfishly.

Second, Jesus could have meant that we should love others as we ought to love ourselves, namely, properly. is a legitimate self-respect self-love. Ephesians tells us to care own bodies, “ one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes ” (5:28–29). is nothing wrong a legitimate self-care and self-respect. The Bible condemns someone “thinking of himself more highly than ought,” but urges to think “soberly” (Rom. 12:3). In this sense, Jesus may be saying love others as ought to love yourselves.

, Jesus could have meant that we should love others as much as we do love ourselves. That is, might have been saying that we should measure how we ought to love others by how we actually do love ourselves without implying that the we love ourselves is correct. Rather, God may be simply pointing to love self as the standard by which we should judge how much to love others. In this , would be an automatic check on selfish love, since we would have to love others this much too.

Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties (355). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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