Journey: Love In A Big House

Read:  Spirit of Love–Loving Self

By including “as you love yourself” in the second great commandment, Jesus created a God-other-self love that requires all three expressions to be in place if things are to work as God intends.

But in the same way that Jesus did not spell out precisely how we are to love God and love others, he did not give details related to self love.  We must bring the whole Bible to bear on these commandments.

In terms of self love, McLaren is spot on in saying that the one term we must not use is self-indulgent.  From Genesis 3 onward, the Bible defines egotism as the essence of sin and provides innumerable illustrations of it.

Instead, of egotism,  the Bible rightly speaks of self-control (Galatians 5:23), the very antithesis and guard against self-indulgence.  McLaren invites us to ponder these expressions instead:  self-examination, self-development, self-care, and self-giving.

But however we go about it, the larger point is that we cannot ever love God or others as we should if our self-love is deformed.  The wine of God-love and neighbor-love is spilled out when the container is broken.

When I think if this, I try to remember how God loves me, and then assume I am on solid ground to love myself in the same ways:  totally, graciously, honestly, patiently, forgivingly, redemptively–to name a few.  Far from opening the door to licentiousness, biblical self-love creates life-protecting walls while simultaneously constructing a generous and joyous big house for the soul.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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