“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
Jesus commanded his disciples and continues to command us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” With this greatest commandment in mind, I believe it is extremely important for spouses to acknowledge that the hardest action in a marriage is often not loving your spouse. Instead, it’s loving your spouse as you love yourself.
Love your spouse as yourself.
Yet, what do you do when you are unable to truly love yourself? The truth is that you will always struggle to love others if you struggle to love yourself. More specifically for your marriage, you will always struggle to love your spouse if you struggle to love yourself. Loving your spouse and others starts with the ability to love yourself as God loves you.
But, wait, isn’t self-love selfish? Nope. Absolutely not. Self-love is our ability to properly see ourselves as God sees us. How does God see us?
Bottom line regarding self-love? We are to love ourselves as someone who is:
Fearfully and wonderfully made; worthy of blessing, love, adoption, and forgiveness; a Child of God; and someone being made in the very image of Christ.
If we can love ourselves the way God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loves us, imagine our ability to love others, especially our spouses. Imagine the ways our marriages would be radically transformed as the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is modeled and shared within our marriages. Imagine what that kind of love would do to and for our kids. Imagine the witness our marriages would provide to the PTAs, the ball teams, and carpools.
Want to love your spouse well? Start with loving yourself well. Want to love yourself well? See yourself the way God sees you; as broken and messy yet beautifully redeemed Children.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your spouse as yourself.
“All the law and prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Paul is the husband to Tara, father to Natalie and Isaac, has an average jump shot, and enjoys running. His secret wish is to one day become a Jedi Knight. Paul holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and currently serves as senior pastor of Harrodsburg Baptist Church. Paul desires to help young couples navigate the early crucibles of marriage, especially when one or both of the spouses are engaged in vocational ministry.
Tara wears several hats; wife to Paul, Mom to Natalie and Isaac, Physical Therapist by day, and Noonday Collection ninja at night. Tara cares deeply about helping other women understand their true identities and developing their relationships with Christ. Tara likes to read, cook, and learn about all things Disney.