Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Self-love or selfishness? Getting it into perspective

Published:Sunday | January 30, 2022 | 12:06 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston - Gleaner Writer
Rev Garry Knowles
Rev Garry Knowles

IT IS an undisputable fact that some persons take care of others to the detriment of caring for themselves. They have to constantly be reminded not to neglect el numero uno.

Rev Garry Knowles, pastor of the Toll Gate Circuit of Baptist Churches, in an interview with Family and Religion, pointed out that persons should be careful that they don’t do too much or too little when it comes to loving themselves.

Acknowledging that self-love should come naturally, he says that everyone is born with a deep, defining human trait: love of self. It is not commanded. It is assumed.

“All of us have a powerful instinct of self-preservation and self-fulfilment. We all want to be happy; to live with satisfaction; we want food for ourselves; clothes for ourselves and a place to live. We also want protection from violence,” he said, adding that it involves the deep longing to diminish pain and increase happiness.

Knowles cautioned, however, that self-love should operate in its purest form and be done in tandem with our love for God and love for others as was explained by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Sharing on obstacles to loving one’s self and others, Knowles warned that pride can rear its ugly head, leaving one to presume that one can survive without God, who is the source of our happiness, and also not caring if others find happiness.

“Pride is the passion to be happy contaminated and corrupted by two things: the unwillingness to see God as the only fountain of true and lasting joy and the unwillingness to see other people as designed by God to receive our joy in him,” he said.

With the country now being rocked by a spate of murder, rape, and shootings, including of women and children, Knowles used the opportunity to highlight that the absence of the power of love – for self and others – is at the heart of the increased criminality.

He placed the onus on the Church to remember its mandate and act out love because at the end of the day, that will be the only real solution to the hatred that is driving others to take lives.

Going back to basics where Jesus commanded the people to “love your neighbour as yourself”, Knowles said that that is the only real hope.

Jesus also said seek ye first the kingdom of God. “This means that my love for God and my quest for happiness are now one and the same. And all of this is found in Jesus Christ.”

“The greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” he quoted from Jesus’ instructions as he advised that love should not see you assisting only those you expect to get something from, but rather, aiding those who might never be able to give you anything.

“It is the putting of the ‘other’ above everything else, loving genuinely, that will see persons looking out for each other, and this kind of care will reflect in their not wanting to hurt others, but rather to assist them.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the world, Knowles noted that if there is ever a time to show love by being God’s angels on E6arth, that time is now.

“If you are longing to see more of God’s bounty and liberality through the supply of food, rent, and clothing, then seek to show others the greatness of this divine bounty by the generosity you have found in God. Let the fulfillment of your own self-love in God-love overflow into neighbourly love,” he stated.

Knowles said that loving God, loving self, and loving your neighbour will bring about the change the country so desperately needs.

“It won’t take zones of special operations; it won’t take a state of emergency. It will take a total transformation of the heart, where God’s love is allowed to permeate and manifest.”

Self-love, he shared, should be nurtured, and loving yourself in the purest form will see you wanting all that is good for your neighbours as well – and that means allowing them to live and be happy.