Do you have a healthy self-love? Because if you don’t, it will be very hard for you not to judge others and live on a life-sucking performance treadmill. Let me be clear. When I speak of self-love, I’m not talking about being selfish and boastful and living an unexamined life before the Lord. I’m talking about true humility and seeing ourselves the way God sees us.
In my post, “Everything you need to know in ten minutes” I gave my ten-minute theology class where I shared what I thought were the the four most salient Scripture passages to make for a vibrant community of faith. But Jesus narrows it down even further with the following statement:
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt.22:37-40 NIV)
I realize I’m like a broken record about this here but I couldn’t possibly over emphasis it. ALL of theology, from Genesis to Revelation, can be wrapped up in this statement. There really isn’t anything else you need to know to live a full life in Christ. Every other issue is subsumed within this and window dressing by comparison.
I really think you and I need to be honest with ourselves and ask if we actually believe Jesus’ words, and how Paul summed it up here:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor.13:1-3 NIV)
What don’t we get about…nothing?
If I am a broken record about this it’s only because Jesus’ words are so easy to understand but rarely followed. I think this gets to the heart of it all, don’t you think?
As G.K. Chesterton astutely observed, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
Here’s where your and my problem starts. We don’t really love ourselves that much. At least, not in the right way. This is important to understand because I can only love others to the degree that I love myself.
Conversely, to the degree I hate myself, I will hate others. I will project my self-loathing, even in its very subtle form, on to you and everybody else, including my characterization of God Himself.
It’s popular in my evangelical circles to promote self-loathing as an honorable quality to have before the Lord. We call it humility. But, oftentimes, nothing could be further from the truth.
If I think humility is talking about myself in any other way than how God sees me, it’s not humility, it’s actually a form of arrogance. I’m trying to promote myself in some way to show you how humble I am. I’ve embraced a false theology that agrees with my wounded soul and even call it spiritual maturity.
In fact, many religions have self-loathing as a form of spiritual cleansing. But there’s nothing spiritual, or at least Christ-like, about it.
Our self-loathing also shows up in our self-talk. It shows up in our relationships. When we don’t love ourselves, we live to please other people instead of God. We live from performance and fear instead of love and joy. We think the worst of people because we oftentimes think the worst of ourselves.
True humility is agreeing with God, regardless of what we think about ourselves. And God placed infinite value on you because He gave Himself in His Son for you.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:!6-17 NLT)
As you probably know, the word “world” (kosmos), in this context, means human beings.
I’m assuming you’re one.
So God loves you exactly as much as He loves Himself (see John 15:9; 17:23).
What this means is, if I regard myself the way God regards me, I will see myself as having infinite worth and ultimately lovable before God.
Did you get that? You are worth loving.
AND when I see myself in God’s estimation of me, then I will see you—no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, your social status, what religious or political side you’re on, or even if you despise me—the same way. I will begin to see your infinite worth and lovability. I will begin to love you for who you really are, not your wounded, projected self.
The remedy for our wounded soul starts and ends by “letting HIS perception of you guide your affections” (Graham Cooke). It’s about letting God love you, receiving His love, remaining in His love, and letting Him heal you from the inside out. And, until then, getting in the habit of rejecting every thought that’s contrary to what God says about you.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor.10:5 NIV)
I’ve posted this song before but it’s a great reminder to help us walk in our true identity so that we can love ourselves and others as God loves us (John 15:9-12).
Beloved, learn how to love yourself. The world needs your love.