We read in Mark 12:30-31 how Jesus replies to the query on Greatest Commandment:

30 'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.

There is a clear degree of comparision of the measure of love one needs to show to God vis-a-vis the love to be shown to the neighbour. The neighbour is to be given the same measure of love one gives to oneself. When it comes to God, one needs to show a higher degree of love that is: with all the heart, soul, mind and strength. A doubt arises as to whether a person is not supposed to love himself/herself with 'all his/ her heart, soul, mind and strength.' Views of Bible scholars are welcome.


3 Answers 3


Jesus recited the most basic prayer of the Jews, the Shema Israel just before giving the famous commandments cited in the OP:

Mark 12:28-29

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone...

The Shema was the prayer recited by Jewish martyrs who placed God's will as a higher good than preserving their own lives. So the question boils down priorities. One's commitment to God should be absolute. One's commitment to oneself does not quite reach that level. God alone is Lord and to Him is our highest allegiance. Thus, loving and "hearing/obeying" God is the first commandment. The second is to love one's neighbor as oneself. Expressed as a geometrical analogy: loving God is vertical, loving one's neighbor as oneself is the horizontal expression of loving God. But in cases where the axis is not perfectly aligned, God comes first.

Conclusion: "Is a person not supposed to love himself/herself with all his/her heart, soul, mind and strength?" Not exactly. When one is perfectly aligned with God then yes, but if one's self-interest contradicts the will of God, one's self-interest should be subordinated. This is exactly the struggle that Jesus faced in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prayed that the cup pass from him, but concluded: "Not my will but Thine."


Three of the Gospels include variations of this:

Matthew 16:24-26 ESV

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

This calls for self-forgetfulness. To ultimately save our life we must lose it. What we must lose is our self-centered outlook on life. That means that we must stop loving ourselves with our whole heart and start loving the Lord with an ever-increasing share of our heart.


At no point in the Bible is anybody (Old Testament or New Testament) commanded to be narcissistic. The meaning of that word derives from Greek mythology where a youth called Narcissus was supposed to have so fallen in love with his reflection in the water, that he became fascinated with his appearance, admiring it to distraction.

In Psychology, the concept of narcissism is to have excessive interest in, and admiration of, one's own physical features. It shows an unhealthy mental imbalance about one's self.

Anybody loving themself as much as they love God would be committing idolatry and putting another god before the Creator - by making a god out of themself - having their life revolve around themself. It can be seen that one need not go to the excessive extent of adoring one's-self to violate the principle Jesus espoused, of loving God utterly by being utterly self-centered.

The healthy stance advocated in Christianity is to care for one's self because life is a gift from God, and should be appreciated. To look after one's self helps the Christian be better devoted to God, with no distractions due to allowing self-loathing to bring poor health, or an imbalanced mental attitude.

The text in question only commands total love for God, with equal love for one's neighbour as one has for themself. But always love of God is suprememe - the greatest love of all.

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