I believe the way this passage is phrased is quite interesting. To say, "Love your neighbor as yourself" automatically begs the question: "In what way should I love myself?" Don't rush to answer the question. Give it time to really sink in before you respond. Study on it - pray about it.
The convictions my family adhered to made "loving oneself" seem like a bad and almost sinful trait. It was considered to be an exhibition of pride and a sure sign of conceit if you were caught putting yourself first in any way, shape or form. There are certain attitudes of the heart that can definitely be considered prideful and conceited.
If you go out and get a real expensive vehicle, for example, and drive it around and rub other people's noses in it, then I'm pretty sure that would qualify as "loving yourself" in a harmful way. God sees beyond the act - to the motive and intent of the heart. No, it's not wrong to get a new vehicle. It's the attitude you have with it that matters. The "rubbing people's noses in it" part is what ensnares you! That kind of pride usually backfires anyhow, just so ya know.
As I got older and began to seek truth for myself, it finally dawned on me through years of soul-searching and time spent on my knees in prayer, it's got to do with the motive and intent of your heart. God is interested in why we do what we do! It's a great question to ask ourselves, because it is surely the question God is asking. Why are you saying this - or why are you doing this? What is my motivation? What is my intent? What do I hope to accomplish? What am I saying or doing that will show love to this person (these people)?
There's a proper self-love, such as taking care of your own health. To cultivate a healthy attitude of the heart - to show respect and dignity for yourself as God's precious child, created in His image, is not wrong. If you can dig yourself out of the destructive thought pattern that any good you do for yourself is somehow bad for your soul - you will learn that taking care of your health is the best thing you can do in order to love and care for everyone around you. God knows this! He's not caught off-guard by your desire to be the best person you can be in order to see and treat others more as Jesus does!
One day I heard a fantastic message that has stuck in my brain. A very wise pastor explained that we may view the way we "love" God and "love" others like this:
Picture the cross Jesus died on. There's one vertical piece of wood. This represents the love we have for God. When we see the horizontal piece of wood, this represents the love we have for others. We lift our hands up to God, then we reach them out to others.
Another truth that has become apparent to me through the years is this: You cannot pray for an enemy and expect them to continue to be an enemy very long. One sure way to dissolve conflict is to begin praying for someone. They don't have to know you're praying for them, but you know- and God knows. That's all that matters.
Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Take care of yourself and practice love and pray for those who don't show love in return. Let God handle them because He will do a much better job than you can.
Don't confuse self-love or taking care of yourself with selfishness. If you have doubts about it, ask God to check your attitude and your motive and intent. He will make it very clear whether your actions are good or bad.
'Cuz God loves EVERYONE!
Today is SWEETEST DAY!!!!!!!!!!!! Do you know of someone who has no family that you could go visit today? It's important to remember our own family on this day, of course, but there are some shut-ins and folks who don't have anyone to come visit them. They might enjoy some company on this day. It's a good day to do something nice for someone less fortunate.