“Love Yourself”

“Love Yourself”

I hear and read this often (not necessarily for me). People love to give this advice, and I understand that they have nothing but good intention. However, I have observed that I love myself better not when I spend so much time loving myself or making myself feel good by going on a trip, eating good food, getting a massage, or other things that they say will help us love ourselves but when I spend quality time with my Savior.

Sure those things are nice and they do make us feel good but the joy they bring is temporal. They don’t last. Those things make us feel good for a while but hours, days, weeks, months, or even years later, we revert to our exhausted, disappointed self. Then we do things to make us happy again. It’s a vicious cycle.

When I read and meditate on the Word of God, when I hear from Him through His Word, when I feel His warm and comforting presence, when I am enveloped by His peace that transcends all understanding, when He fills me with hope, when He reassures me that I am His, I feel good, I feel beautiful, I feel loved and I love others better. People’s opinion fade in the background and all that matters is I am loved by my Maker, my Savior, my King, my Father, my redeemer, my safe place…

People say we should love ourselves but what do they really mean when they say that? God teaches us the opposite in His Word. Nowhere in the Bible can we find God telling us to love ourselves. God even tells us to die to self every day.

“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.’” Luke 9:23-24

What does dying to self mean? Dying to self means to love God first, others second, ourselves last. It means to love others even—most especially—when it’s difficult. (God says we are to love our enemies even if they doubt our intentions.) It means sharing the truth about God with people even if they persecute us, even if it literally costs our life! It means to have a peaceful heart even when others ignore or malign us. It means serving people even when they are thankless.

Boy, that ain’t easy! Humans are naturally selfish and it’s our instinct to put ourselves above others. I need to seek God daily and be filled by His love for me to be able to do that. My love is limited. It is God who supplies me with love when I’m running out. I always ask Him to fill me till I overflow…till I spill it to others. We cannot pour from an empty cup.

It doesn’t mean letting others treat us like doormats. It means following Jesus’ example of service and it is ultimately for the Lord (Matthew 20:26-28, John 13:14-17). Jesus said that whoever wants to be first should be last (i.e. slaves). Jesus did not come to be served but to serve.

The question is, what/who should be our source? Jesus is the only one who never runs out and never fails because He is God. His love is limitless. We can only truly love ourselves when we love God first because He is the source of love.

“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

“The self-esteem cult that goes around saying we’ve got to build up people’s self-esteem is taking them the opposite way that the message of the Bible does, because the more you love yourself, the less likely you are to need a Savior. Self-esteemism is based on an unbiblical perspective. It is diametrically opposed to the truth of human depravity. Moreover, while Scripture commends self-control as a fruit of the spirit, the Bible has nothing positive to say about: self-esteem, self-love, or any other variety of self-centeredness.” – John MacArthur

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