top of page

Jesus’ New Year’s Resolution: Love thy neighbor as thyself comes with proviso

... We must first love ourselves

When Jesus Christ was born, he was hearkened as the Prince of Peace, the one who would bring peace to all of us in the world.

Well, he tried.

Jesus must cringe when he views the hatred in the United States today — and in the world. He knows that we are sinners, but that does not mean that we should not attempt to improve ourselves.

So, when asked about the greatest commandment, he replied that there were two.. The first was obvious: To love God.

However, the second is trickier:

The second greatest comandment

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:39

Christians hate Jews, they hate Muslims, yet they claim to embrace Jesus Christ as their saviors.

However, the words of God — and of Jesus — are challenging. He talked about turning the other cheek, but that may be one of the most challenging admonitions that we have to face.

So, how can we love our neighbors? And who are our neighbors?

We have to love ourselves

When I hear people express messages of hatred today, I think that they have one major problem: You cannot love another unless you love yourself.

Here is what one expert said about that,

The New Testament tells us that this is the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I am intrigued by this verse and at the same time I often wonder if it is misunderstood. I hear people use these words to compel their loved ones to be kind, compassionate, and generous to others. I wholeheartedly agree with these intentions and yet I’ve witnessed many people live out these words to the neglect of themselves. I’ve heard people say, “Scripture tells me to love my neighbor… it says nothing about loving myself”. No disrespect, but I beg to differ.

The verse says: “love your neighbor as yourself”, the imperative word here being “as”. The long form of this phrase would be “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. This implies that in order to be kind, compassionate, and generous to our neighbor, we must first be these things to ourselves. Let’s reflect. If you are invited to love someone as you love yourself this means that if you dislike or are cruel to yourself then you are to dislike or be cruel to that someone. Conversely, if you cherish yourself then to others you are invited to do likewise. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. This verse takes it for granted that we love ourselves, which in reality is a rather large assumption.

Nikki Holm, M.A., Chaplain, Water’s Edge Counseling and

Healing Center, October 15, 2014

In other words, if we do not love ourselves, we cannot love our neighbors.

Putting that admonition into work

Ms. Holm provides some advice as to how we can accomplish this.

Several months ago, my yoga instructor invited us to spend 2014 putting ourselves first, to move ourselves to “the top of the list” as he put it. This isn’t because he is secretly trying to breed narcissists. It’s because he knows deeply that if we are to have the energy, empathy, strength and passion that we so want to put back into the world, we must first give it to ourselves. We must nurture ourselves in order to nurture our loved ones… and our neighbors.

I don’t know what it looks like for you to practice loving yourself or to practice self-cherishing. Perhaps it starts by forgiving yourself when you are sometimes impatient, or asking yourself what you really want to do on a Friday night, or taking 30min every day to do one thing that you deeply enjoy. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to give yourself permission to do it and not apologize for it. Perhaps this world needs more people who aren’t afraid of caring for themselves.

So this week, perhaps this month or this year even, I invite you to practice love.. practice loving yourself, your neighbor, and your God. Lay down guilt and shame and pick up love. What an ancient, difficult, essential invitation. What a great commandment indeed.

Nikki Holm, M.A., Chaplain, Water’s Edge Counseling and

Healing Center, October 15, 2014

This is what I think Jesus would want us to proclaim as our New Year’s Resolution for 2022.

12 views0 comments


bottom of page