Matthew 22:37- 40 - "Jesus said unto him; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor AS THYSELF. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Notice in the verse above the words "AS THYSELF." I believe that we can't ever love any other person until we love ourselves as we should; the key words being "as we should." First let's examine loving ourselves in the wrong way. Then we will examine the right way.
There are people who love themselves in a selfish way that never will be or never should be commended by anyone including God. These people live to please themselves and their life motto is "Look out for number one." Even when they do works that are charitable they do it for self-recognition and/or fame. When they do what others deem to be a loving act they are smugly thinking of themselves as better than others and some do good things to feel good about themselves and their self-worth because of a lack of self-worth eating away at them. These people need the love and concern of others who can minister God's love to them and let them know that they are of inestimable value in the sight of God.
There are people who have lived under circumstances that have caused them to devalue themselves and they have developed a negative self-image. Perhaps the ridicule of peers and/or others stemming from being overweight, being too plain looking or not pretty or handsome like those around them, or any myriad of possibilities that steal their self-worth from them. This might leave them depressed or angry or afraid to believe they are of real value to anyone including themselves. Even though they have come broken before the Lord Jesus Christ and have received salvation this devaluation seems to cling to them and never let go. Because of this they have difficulty in expressing love for others for fear of rejection and also fear of letting others love them as well. They need to understand that if they are accepted by God that is enough. To continue on in this condition is to continue believing a lie and places opinion above the Word of God. It must be forsaken!
Loving others demands that we love ourselves first! When we refuse to love ourselves
as God intended; we begin to separate ourselves from God as well as other people and we hurt those who love us whether family or friends. We consciously or unconsciously build a wall of separation based on feelings or outright rebellion and stubbornness. If we allow this to continue for long we become locked into ourselves and cut off relationships with others and with God that are vital to our psychological and spiritual stability. While it is true that none of us in worthy to enter God's presence the person who dwells on their negative self-image finds it increasingly difficult to believe anyone including God could genuinely love them. The devil laughs with glee and whispers lies into the heart and mind about anything that might drive a believer or unbeliever farther away from God.
BUT - God has spoken clearly to us that we are to come "boldly to his throne of grace" to find mercy and help in our time of need. He loves to hear from his children and rejoices when they come no matter how we see ourselves. It is his mercy and righteousness that he sees and not any good in us apart from Jesus Christ. There is no inherent good in us without the Lord who died for us, but we can approach God and be accepted and loved because of what Jesus did; not anything we did or didn't do. God is reaching out to his people to heal every hurt and deliver us from all that would afflict us and bring us down.
If God loves us then we should love ourselves, and in loving ourselves as God does we will find it easier to reach out to and love others. So then loving ourselves as we should
is paramount to being able to love others as God loves them.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR --- AS THYSELF! It is God's will for all his people.