We are immersed in a “self love” and “self care” culture. Self help books are of the top most selling books in the entire world because we haven’t been given the proper steps to love ourselves to the root of who we are—all we’ve been given are enticing feel-good band-aids and ways to love ourselves for a (fleeting) moment.
But the painful yet marvelous reality is—our focus is all wrong. We shouldn’t become so wrapped up in loving ourselves that we forget to love the One who created us. When we love our Creator, we slowly but surely begin to naturally love His creation—without even trying. If we placed the time, energy, and effort we spend trying to love ourselves on loving Him instead, we will forget about ourselves simply because we are so caught up in loving Him. This is what we should strive for.
Forget what the world says—we cannot effectively love ourselves by placing ourselves higher. We effectively love ourselves by forgetting about ourselves and by being invested in our Creator and the neighbors He has commanded us to love instead.
In order to effectively love ourselves, we must wrap ourselves so tightly in God’s grace. It is so far, so wide, and so deep. There is so much grace readily available for you just waiting to triumph over your shortcomings.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” / Jeremiah 31:3
We’re human. We all have faults. We all make mistakes. We all have imperfections and things we want to be different about ourselves. Don’t let the enemy talk you into hating yourself for your shortcomings. Rather, soak up God’s grace that is always available to you!
Every time I hear someone talk about Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” by saying “we can’t love our neighbors until we love ourselves” I cringe. I really, really cringe. The reality is this—we do love ourselves. Naturally. Since the beginning. It’s why Eve was so enticed when Satan tempted her with the fruit and told her she would be like God if she ate of it. She wanted a higher status because who she was wasn’t enough for her, ultimately meaning who the Lord created her to be wasn’t enough for her.
“For no one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” / Ephesians 5:29
Reality check/conviction warning: you don’t hate yourself. You hate the idea of yourself that you created for yourself rather than the true you that God created. All of God’s creation is marvelous—even you.
To hate ourselves is ultimately to belittle the work of the Lord. He created every piece of us intentionally and carefully. If there are parts of you that you tend to dislike, recognize that there is grace and through the sanctifying process of spending time with Jesus, those qualities will either completely disappear or they will turn into Christ-like and God-honoring qualities. Rather than despising those qualities, give them to the Lord and watch what He does with them!
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” / Psalm 103:11-12
We preach that to love ourselves we must place ourselves first but this is all wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. To effectively love yourself is to intentionally place yourself lower. We must place Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last. We will never succeed in loving ourselves if our focus is ourselves. Don’t let your end goal be to love yourself. Let your end goal be to love Jesus first and foremost. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him and the more we take on His qualities. He is the creator of love and He is love.
So, step one in loving yourself: quit trying to. Remember, your end goal is to love Jesus better, not yourself. If you try to love yourself outside of God, it will become daunting, crippling, and you will never be satisfied in who He created you to be. It will be a detrimental cycle of never knowing your worth which is not found outside of Him.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” / Galatians 2:20
Matthew 22:37 says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” It doesn’t say “You shall love yourself with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
2 Timothy 3:1-2 & 5 says “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self… (notice how Paul put that first)” then he goes on to say “avoid such people.” We mustn’t get caught up in loving ourselves. The Lord didn’t forget to put a verse in the Bible about loving yourself but He did intentionally command us to love Him and to love others because ultimately, that is what matters.
So, wrap yourself in God’s grace, put Him first, others second, yourself last, and give Him the aspects of yourself that you despise. Remember: to love yourself is not to put yourself first.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16