The words “Love your neighbor as yourself” can be found in many verses throughout the Old and New Testament. Lev 19:18, Matt 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12:31, Rom 13:9, Gal 5:14 and James 2:8.
As with all scripture we need to examine the surrounding verses to get the full context. Such as: don’t hold a grudge (Lev 19:18), to honor your father and mother (Matt 19:19) and to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) to name a few. But this time lets focus on James 2:8.
“Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.”
James 2:9 goes on to speak about favoritism. As with a lot of the Bible many verses have multiple applications (not to be confused with multiple interpretations). To get the full meaning lets look at the Greek (the language this verse were written in) for “love your neighbor as yourself”.
Love: agapaō; to love as God loves, unconditionally, not selfish
Your: sy; specifically you (this makes it personal)
Neighbor: plēsion; any other person
As: hōs; an adverb of comparative form
Yourself: seautou; yourself
Now for an application of this verse. The word “as” makes this verse about comparison. Comparing the way and depth you love others to the way and depth that you love yourself. Make sure that you’re not applying a definition of love that’s selfish, proud or belittling toward others or yourself. More simply put, do you love others unconditionally? Do you love yourself unconditionally?
Some need to elevate their love for others to match their love for themselves. This would indicate that there is selfishness. Others, the people to whom I want to specifically address, need to elevate/evaluate their love for themselves. Some simply hate themselves. For some, the hatred of themselves leads to thoughts of suicide. While God has called us to be humble He’s not called us to hate ourselves (or others). There is a huge difference between humbling ourselves and humiliating ourselves. God has done so much for us. If nothing else, His death for us proves that we’re of great value to Him.
Are you showing favoritism (James 2:9)? Soberly evaluate how you love others and how you love yourself and, with God’s help, make whatever adjustments are necessary. Romans 12:2 applies here.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”