No. I’m not talking about loving your neighbours.
Yes. That is what Jesus is asking us to do. Love the people around so much that it’s as much as loving ourselves. As clear as a crystal. But I missed an important hidden gem in this verse.
In the midst of a low-self-esteem attack, the question a dear friend gently threw at me was like a lightning in a dark night:
How do you love your neighbor as yourself if you don’t love yourself in the first place?
In my ears it had the effect of:
How? Like, seriously, HOW do you even begin to love your neighbor as yourself if you don’t even love yourself enough?!?!
(Thank God for a gentle and patient friend…)
It threw a new light to a verse I thought I knew. God loves us, what reasons do we have to trample on ourselves? We might go around daily smiling and laughing, but deep down, sometimes we just don’t love ourselves enough, or not in the way God would like us to. Do we forgive our passed mistakes after God forgives? Do we accept the encouragement people around and God give us? Do we move on from wounds from the past? Do we surround ourselves with and enjoy God’s blessings? Do we take care of our physical and mental health?
Now I look at this verse as two instructions: Love myself. Love the people around.
God loves us all.