By Pauline Akello
For many of us, loving ourselves does not come as easily as loving the people around us. But finding peace and love for yourself is just as important as loving others.
Perhaps you have heard such impassioned statements derived from Matthew 22:39 about the vitality of self-love and acceptance of our spiritual lives.
You can only love God and neighbor as much as you accept and love yourself.
Simply put, the more you look inwardly and love yourself, the more you can love others, be at peace and content.
Self-love is a thoughtful prioritization of one’s self, aimed at deeper love and acceptance.
It is a meditative focus on one’s positive traits. Self-love seeks freedom from negative thoughts about one’s self; whether guilt or insecurity or even awkwardness.
It is the key to loving God and others. As long as there is disconnection with the self, one cannot devote themlves to loving God and others.
Having affirmations such as: “I love and accept myself exactly as I am. I love who I am and all that I do. I support myself and God supports me,” do not work because all evidences are unclear.
Many may think something is wrong with them because such affirmations seem to work for others.
Consequently, some abandon them and move to the next magic bullet; trying to fix one’s life.
Interestingly, many are tempted to think they have a healthy self-love when they see the hard work they endured to have a good life and regularly practice self-care.
Others may have healthy self-esteem and a good sense of worth, always putting themselves first and doing what feels good whenever they feel like it.
The danger with such inward looking for love is: we are sinners. When sinners look inward with clear eyes, they do not like what they see.
The philosophy of self-love is based on the idea that humans are fundamentally good and lovable. Unfortunately, this perception is proven untrue in Romans 2:12 and 3:23: “We have all sinned”.
Did Jesus say you love yourself first? He said you love others “as yourself”, not to love others after yourself.
Paul puts this clearly in Ephesians 5:29: “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church.”
He emphasises how important it is to love your neighbor and to be genuinely concerned for others’ welfare. He did not add a precondition to loving others.
The plan of God for us is not to achieve a heightened acceptance of self. He desires our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
The answer is to understand the depth of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace.
He demonstrated this love in the most powerful way possible when He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus, on the cross to die for our sins as seen in John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:4-5.
You can start loving yourself now by focusing on the fact that God unquestionably loves you if you are born again.
His unconditional love is reserved for those who have decided to put aside the things of this world and serve Christ as their Lord and Savior.
When you understand how much God loves you, you will want to share the love with others.
Yes, even when you say they do not deserve it. It is what God Himself does in Ephesians 2:4-5: “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
How do we love ourselves right? Bible study is a truthful foundation for understanding how to love.
Loving yourself means you stop denying your sins, faults, and weaknesses are not real. Only the Gospel offers true redemption.
When you dismiss the convictions of conscience as simple lack of self-acceptance, you risk misidentifying gracious warnings from God as attacks from Satan.
Christ’s invitation to “come as you are”, shows genuine love and full acceptance so we can leave our old nature aside (Ephesians 4:22), strive for a renewal (Romans 12:2), and deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24).
Neglect of Biblical truth leaves the heart more dissatisfied and confused.