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Prioritising our love as a Christian


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As a Christian how do you think we should prioritise our love of others and ourselves? Obviously God should come first as the Bible commands us, but something I've struggled with is where to put ourselves and others, should we love ourselves as much as others...less?

I know we should not love ourselves more than others or we become selfish.

I suppose It depends on who the others are for example your family,strangers, friends. I know this is a very difficult question to answer and struggle myself at putting myself anywhere but last on this list in times of need as I have a low self opinion and always see others as more important than myself.

Sometimes I wonder how God wants us to prioritise our love. Would you die for others in a time of need, in place of yourself if there were no other option; just them or you? Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves, would you be able to break this human instinct to protect someone you love if a situation you were in called for it?

I prioritize love - or am working toward better doing so, day-by-day, by God's grace - in the manner prescribed in God's word, the Bible.

Matthew 22:36-39
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love God first and above all.
Love others. (In order of intimacy of connection: Spiritual family first, then blood relations, then neighbors, then strangers.)

Galatians 6:10
10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

1 John 3:14
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love [the brethren] abides in death.

1 John 4:7-11
7 Beloved, let us love one another [who are in the faith], for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us [self-sacrificially], we also ought to love one another [who are born-again].

Die to yourself.

Matthew 16:24-25
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

John 12:23-25
23 And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

John 5:30
30 ...I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Galatians 2:20
20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 5:24
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Colossians 3:2-3
2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The modern, secular world (and the Church following after it) has embraced this idea of self-love as necessary to loving others. The thinking goes: If I don't love myself well first, I can't, and won't, love others as I should. But this isn't even slightly biblical. God calls His children to accept who they are, to be content with how He has made them to be - short, tall, brown or blonde haired, skinny or heavy-set, brilliant at Math or not - and to deny their innate tendency to sinful self-interest. After all, sin is always, at bottom, an expression of selfishness. The modern, western, self-love (or self-esteem) philosophy encourages self-interest, self-absorption, which always necessarily excludes esteeming the next person better than ourselves. When we've got our eyes fixed upon Self we simply can't truly love others as Christ has loved us:

Philippians 2:3-8
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Does this sound like the self-esteem philosophy that has so fouled the Church? It doesn't to me.

God doesn't want our loving self-sacrifice to emanate from passivity, or unhappiness with who we are, or cringing weakness but from His agape love that is strong, unending and holy. Our love, then, must originate with Him, given to us by the Holy Spirit, not dredged up from our sin-prone, ignorant and contingent human "love."

Our ability to love in the radically self-sacrificing way that Jesus can't be derived from us. If we ask ourselves if we have in ourselves what is required to love as God has called us to, the answer must always be "No." But when we are constantly under His control, by His Spirit living in the truth of our co-crucifixion with Christ and by the Spirit filled with his divine love, then we don't need to ask "Would I?" but can be confident God will move us according to His will to act just He wants us to.


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