Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 19:19

A version of “love your neighbor as yourself” can be found in every faith tradition around the globe. It is a powerful spiritual practice of love, yet too often we have taken it to mean love your neighbor more than yourself or before yourself. This teaching has been turned into a practice of sacrificing our sense of self and living as a martyr, with an underlying lack of self-love or even self-loathing.

Yet the statement is actually a mathematical equation of equality. Anytime a statement uses the word “as,” it equates the two things, which is exactly what we learned in eighth grade algebra: the equation always maintains the equality of the two components. Therefore you can’t love your neighbor without also loving yourself.

Love your neighbor as yourself is both a description of how life works as well as a prescription of how we can actually experience more love. Everything I do to you, ultimately I do to me, because we are one! Everything I do to me, I do to you, because ultimately we are one.

Spiritual Contemplation: Spend time contemplating the equality of the two sides of this statement. Which side do you need to spend some love on to bring the equation back into balance?

Affirmation: I love my neighbor as myself. I love myself as my neighbor.