Mark 12:31 – “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” NASB
It is very interesting to me that the Greek word used here for ‘love’ is (agapao) which comes from a word that means much and can be seen in contrast to (phileo) or brotherly love. It is a deeper love than just a casual social appreciation of someone. It was not (storge) which is a fondness through familiarity or (philia) which is friendship or (eros) the romantic attraction but (agape) which is unconditional love or a God-kind of love.
That being said, if everyone were to take this passage literally from a personal viewpoint regarding how they regard themselves the world would be in a world of hurt. Why do I say that? Because some people have anything but LOVE for themselves and then others have nothing but LOVE for themselves.
Some have an unhealthy un-love, and some have an unhealthy love for themselves and to love others as they love themselves would be dangerous and difficult. Yet, if we are ‘in Christ’ and His love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and we do not think higher of ourselves than we should then we can love others in a wholesome and balance the way that produces a beautiful interaction and relationship.
Imagine a world where people viewed others through the eyes of the Spirit of God. Imagine a world where people realized that we are all creations of the Father. Imagine a world where people followed what is called the Golden Rule and truly reacted and responded to others like we desire to be treated. I am convinced that we would find more peace than turmoil in our relationships.
It is when we attempt to love others without first coming to grips with who we are and having the who we are settled in Christ we have difficulty. For most of my life, I have heard people say, “You have to look out for old number one” to justify whatever it was that they did and the way they treated or took advantage of others. That is not ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ that is disregarding your neighbor for yourself. It is contrary to what Jesus called the 2nd Great Commandment of God. If we get the 1st one right the 2nd one is easy but until we get the 1st one right the 2nd one is almost impossible.
I cannot love you on an equal plane with myself if I have not first learned to be comfortable with who I am in God. It is only as I find myself in God and know that I can trust Him, that I can make myself vulnerable and love you as I do myself. The self-defense part of our nature prevents that, and it is only as we move from the survival mode to a life hidden with Christ in God that we can move out of our inner sanctuary of self-protection and LOVE biblically.
May God be with you as you go through this day!