Monday, November 7, 2011

I Love Me, I Love Me Not

To love self, or not to love self. That is the question. Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). He says to love yourself. I love me.
Jesus also said, "If anyone come to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). Here He says to hate yourself. I love me not.

When we read these verses that seem to contradict each other, it makes us wonder, "Should I love me, or love me not?" If God loves me, shouldn't I love me? And here's another question. If Jesus commands us to love everyone, including our enemies, why is He now telling us to hate our next of kin?

In those days, the word "hate" didn't always mean to stop loving someone. The word "hate" is an idiom or expression of preference, where one person is preferred over another. Jesus said no one can serve two masters because he will hate the one and love the other (Luke 16:13), which means to prefer one over the other.  Likewise, when the Scripture says to hate self, it means to hate selfishness, not the person that God created you to be. To "die to self" means to stop selfishness, not commit suicide.

A prison chaplain told me that prisoners commit crimes because they hate themselves. He said, "If they don't respect themselves, why would they respect others?" He teaches them that God loves them and so they can love themselves, and in turn love others.  Jesus created you and died for you so that you can be with Him forever. It only makes sense that it's right to love yourself as God loves you.