We live in a “self-love” crazed society. It’s everywhere we turn: in self-help books, all over social media, on the covers of magazine tabloids as we stand in the checkout line at the grocery store. We see “love yourself” everyday, in a variety of different ways, but really the root of this issue is that we have a hard time loving ourselves. So many struggle with this, and there’s no shame in it. We live in a fallen world where comparison is everywhere, where diet culture reigns, where there is so much pressure to maintain a certain image.
If loving ourselves is the supposed answer to all of our problems, then the question remains… how? Yes, it’s very important to be at peace within, to give ourselves grace, to speak words of life over ourselves… but in a society where comparison is encouraged and in a time where depression and anxiety seem to rule the lives of many, there is so much pressure to “love ourselves,” and no clear instructions on how to do so in a healthy, Christ-centered way.
We are all human. We have all done things we aren’t proud of. We have all wondered at one point, “what is wrong with me?” We have all had someone speak negative words into our lives, and maybe those words have become lies that we now believe and speak over ourselves daily. Yes, loving oneself can be hard. But the truth is this: we don’t have to do it in our own strength. In fact, we aren't expected to. We have a savior named Jesus Christ who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could all spend an eternity in His presence, and He loves us more than we could ever begin to comprehend. What happens when we take a step away from loving ourselves in our own strength, and step into receiving the love He has for us?
“WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE TAKE A STEP AWAY FROM LOVING OURSELVES IN OUR OWN STRENGTH, AND STEP INTO RECEIVING THE LOVE HE HAS FOR US?”
In order for us to understand self-love, it’s important to first take a look at what the Bible says about love. In 1 Corinthians, Paul says this:
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
In the past, I’ve always applied this verse to my relationships with others, but what happens when we apply this to the relationship we have with ourselves? Love is patient and kind. This is the perfect foundation to begin building our self-love upon (after Jesus, of course). When we aren’t actively practicing patience or kindness with ourselves, our flesh can be quick to react with impatience and negative self talk, and the enemy will use all of this against us to whisper lies into our ears. That is why when we are on a journey to self acceptance, Jesus must be who we lean into. And yes, it is a journey. We are all human, and we’ve all been influenced by the world at one point or another. It’s important to remember that although we live in the world, we also live in God’s kingdom.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. If love is not jealous, it’s safe to say that comparison is not rooted in love, and we know that it doesn’t come from God. If love is not boastful or proud or rude, then we know that loving ourselves also means being kind to others. If love does not demand its own way, then we know this: we are called to love in God’s way. What might seem like love to us, may not be love to God. For example, when we stay in relationships that are not God honoring or indulge in our "guilty pleasures" that feel good but ultimately lead to sin, we're loving in our own way and not God's way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. If love is not irritable, if it keeps no record of being wronged, then I believe God wants us to remember that when we’ve done something wrong, we should remember that His grace raises us above it all. His grace covers every single one of our mistakes, and his grace is enough. It also takes forgiving others so we can be forgiven. When the enemy comes in and tries to remind us of all we’ve done in the past as well as the people that have hurt us, this is where we tell him the truth: that love keeps no record of wrongs. There is no place in God’s kingdom for us to beat ourselves up for the things we’ve done. We were bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus and received freedom the moment He looked up into Heaven and said "it is finished." When we are saved, our sins are erased as far as the East is from the West. Remembering this while practicing self-love might be one of the most important pieces of it all.
“WE WERE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR WITH THE BLOOD OF JESUS AND RECEIVED FREEDOM THE MOMENT HE LOOKED UP INTO HEAVEN AND SAID "IT IS FINISHED."“
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. God asks us not to give up on ourselves. That may look like surrendering those lies that you believe about yourself to Him daily. It may look like getting out of bed in the morning when it’s the last thing you want to do. It may take looking in the mirror everyday and telling yourself that you are a child of God, His masterpiece and made perfectly in His image. Through it all, He asks us to remain hopeful. He asks us to endure. When we are struggling with loving ourselves, we must remember who we are in Christ. We must pour our hearts out to Him, for our Heavenly Father watches over every sparrow and still loves us even more. We must remember His grace, which is sufficient. We must remember His love, which covers a multitude of sins. We must remember His sacrifice, the ultimate debt paid so we could walk in freedom, so we could have life and life more abundantly. And for anything that goes against what God says about us, we put on the full armor of God and tell the enemy what He says is true!
When it comes to self-help books, the Bible is the best one we could read. We could read every book ever written about healing, but without Jesus as the foundation, it likely won’t last. Jesus is our rock. He is the only eternity, and in order to bring Heaven down to earth, we must rest in Him. We must put our faith in Him. We must let Him lead us into love for ourselves, and when our self-love is rooted in Christ, it’s also rooted in truth— not in what the world says, but what the Word says.
Prayer: God, teach me how to love myself the way You love me. Teach me how to love the way You say love is. Show me that I’m not doing this in my own strength. I receive the love You have for me, Father. Soften my heart and give me eyes to see what I still need to let go of in order to fully step into the love you have waiting for me. Let Your will be done in my life, Lord. Thank you that with You, I can do all things, even on the days when it feels the hardest. In Jesus name, Amen.