Love models

Maybe you’ve heard the idea that “you can’t love others until you’ve learned to love yourself.”  On the surface, that makes sense.  Starting with this “love model,” for lack of a better term, below are three.

  • Self  ==> others

This model suggests that one’s love for self leads to love for others, but it leaves God out.  The world can say something like this with some reasonably good intent and effect, but shouldn’t believers affirm God as the source of love?

  • God ==> self ==> others

This model improves on the first, but it may be placing the self too high in a sort of hierarchy.  “Look out for number one” seems to be a philosophical sibling here.

  • God ==> all

This model establishes God and puts the “self” in context of the entire human creation that God loves.

Thanks to preacher Peter for proposing these models for consideration.  Formerly, I had more or less assumed the first model was valid, nearly ascribing biblical basis to it.  The third model now seems to me to be more congruent with biblical revelation.  What thoughts do you have?


2 thoughts on “Love models

  1. Rachel 07/21/2011 / 7:30 pm

    I am so glad someone finally addressed this issue! I often hear “love your neighbor as yourself [Mark 12:31a]” used as an excuse that we need to be [essentially] self-centered first before we think about anyone else. “I can’t love my neighbor if I don’t take care of ‘me’ first.” I think if our focus is on sharing God’s love with other people, we won’t have “self” complexes that will require the need to focus on loving ourselves rather than focusing on God’s love for all people.


  2. Aussie Pete 08/08/2011 / 3:37 pm

    Brian, I’m glad to see I’m prompted someone to think with that comment. 🙂 I agree with both your post and Rachel’s comment. The assumption in Mark 12 is that people naturally love themselves, feed themselves, protect themselves, care for themselves etc. The whole purpose of the command is to expand those concerns to include others. It’s tragic when people use that verse to instead further restrict their circle of caring to themselves.
    The only wrinkle I’d add to your model is to consider John 13:34. I understand this verse to create a God –> self –> others chain. Not as a hierarchy, but that as I receive and comprehend God’s love to me, I have a responsibility to love people in a similar manner. Any attempt to love others without recognizing God’s love for me will fall short.

    I appreciate your blogging diligence. I’ve been trying to catch up all year, and I only post once a week!!! Blessings.


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