Sorry Whitney Houston! The greatest love isn’t self love after all.
Self love may be the most natural, but that doesn’t make it the greatest. Eating dinner is a very natural thing to do, but there’s nothing inherently great or noble about it. Self love is undoubtedly the most selfish form of love. Unless you add other loves to it, it can prove disastrous and it will not lead to happiness. Only loneliness and misery.
(That said, I guess it’s still better to love yourself than no one. But it won’t lead to making the world a better place. Or even personal happiness.)
All this emphasis on self love is making this world a very childish (not to be confused with childlike) and self-centered place. When people enter into sacred marriage covenents instead of asking, “Will this please God? Can I help this other person? Will we be better able to serve our church and community together? Will I be able to stick to this person and stand by him/her no matter how I feel or how unhappy I get?” they ask themselves, “Will this person make me happy?”
The answer is no. Only God and you can make you happy. Through His Son Jesus and many minor gifts, God has already given you everything you need for happiness. Whether you choose to appreciate it and make yourself happy is up to you! That said, it’s okay to feel unhappy from time to time. In this sad and sinful world, there’s something wrong with people who’re perpetually upbeat and Happy all the time regardless of the suffering around them.
Our LORD was called the Man of Sorrows after all; not the Man of Pleasures. I’m sure Jesus knew how to laugh. The Bible records some witty stories He told (I doubt He told the whole thing without smiling!) His enemies got mad at Him for partying. But the real reason He came to us was to experience sorrow, not pleasure.
Why would the Son of God come to earth just to experience sorrow and suffering, when He could have stayed equal to God in Heaven and enjoyed Himself amidst the praises of his sinless angels? I’m not sure why He loved, but He did it for love.
Loving another person in this world is not always a happy experience. I’d say even the best of loves involve one part happiness, two parts discomfort and irritation, two or three parts sorrow and suffering.
Every “romance” this side of eternity has one of three endings.
- A couple marries or maybe doesn’t even make it to the altar before one of them dies. A good friend of mine lost her beloved fiance before they even set a date.
- A couple marries and one hardens his or her heart and leaves the other. I know many people this has happened to. It’s not right and it hurts.
- A couple marries and after half a century of living together as one flesh, one dies. The other is even more devastated then the person bereaved in example one.
That’s the way love stories end. Hollywood doesn’t show that.
“See,” my critics are probably saying, “If you only stuck to self love you wouldn’t get hurt.”
I can only say there are worse things than pain. Ask any leper what it means to live without pain. And there are greater things than pleasure. Ask our LORD who left everything for the love He bore fallen humanity.
All right then, you are thinking. So what is the greatest love we can experience this side of eternity.
This is it:
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13.)
Loving your friends enough to sacrifice life itself–if necessary–for their well being is the greatest form of love. Unfortunately self love can get in the way of that.