1. To advance the kingdom.
Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves. Maybe you’ve embraced only part of this truth—that you are only supposed to be concerned with loving others. That seems to be the more spiritual thing to do. But that’s only part of what Jesus said. We are also supposed to love ourselves.
Why is that so important? Consider what happens if we dont.
Unworthiness defiles us.
Shame saturates our soul.
Depression sinks in.
Then we become miserable ineffective witnesses. The kingdom can’t advance with wounded soldiers, but love is the ammunition that destroys the enemy’s power.
2. To protect against evil.
It’s up to us to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23) and protect it from people, places, things and thoughts that will contaminate our heart. If our heart is wounded or polluted, it causes toxic emotions that eventually erode our soul.
If we don’t guard our heart, our own ability to give and receive love is compromised.
3. So you can love others more.
The more love we have in our own heart, the more love we have to extend to others. On the contrary, if we love ourselves little, we won’t have much love to give away because we can’t give away more than what we have.
How can we love our neighbor if our own soul is wrecked?
Maybe you’re thinking, Wait a minute! That still doesn’t sound very Christian. Isn’t it wrong to focus on loving ourselves?
I have to admit. I used to think that myself, but let’s take another look at what Jesus told us in Mark 12:30-31. After we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This command begs the question: How can we love others if we don’t love ourselves? What Jesus is really saying is this:
Our capacity and ability to love others flows out of the love we have for ourselves.
Ultimately, if we have little regard for ourselves…we won’t have much love to give others.
It’s the same principle that army hospitals utilize in combat situations. If a medic is injured, she has to attend to her own wounds first, because an injured medic helps no one.
According to Jesus’ command we have a responsibility to love ourselves so that we are empowered to love others. Loving ourselves more has a multiplier effect. It’s not a selfish act, but a kingdom principle.
What we sow reproduces. So go ahead, allow God’s love to saturate you. Then love yourself more and see how it affects those around you.