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If you don’t understand how to love yourself, you’re in good company. It’s something many people struggle with. In this post, you will learn what God has to say about loving yourself along with practical tips for how to love yourself.
All my life, I have understood the necessity of “loving my neighbor.” I remember seeing the “JOY” acronym on many a church bulletin board – Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. The message was clear – ALWAYS put others before yourself. Even though it was not intended, the message I perceived was: “You’re not as important as others.”
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” While God encourages us to be unselfish in our actions, His will is for us to do so in a way that still shows love and respect for ourselves, His precious creation.
Although I always knew I was loved and created by God, I often belittled myself with the wrong belief that I was “being humble.” Negative self-talk and degradation in the name of “humility” is something that many Christians struggle with, and I believe we have neglected to talk about it in the church for too long. I believe the reason self-love is not overly encouraged is fear-driven: if we encourage people to love themselves, they might become selfish and narcissistic.
Of course selfishness is a sin, and one that we all struggle with at some point or another. But it is a mistake to think that taking care of ourselves is selfishness.
Loving yourself is not being selfish. Actually, it is a command. Don’t believe me?
Let’s look at Scripture concerning this topic.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus, after being asked “What is the greatest commandment?”, said in Mark 12:30-31,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
I’ve known this Scripture all my life but often missed those two little words in the second commandment – AS YOURSELF. Note that Jesus does not say “love your neighbor more than yourself.” He says “love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, value others as much as you do yourself, and treat them accordingly.
This verse is written from a perspective that loving yourself comes naturally. It assumes that the reader already loves themselves. Why? Because self-love does come naturally! Have you ever seen a baby with low self-esteem who did not love themselves?
My friend Bethany wrote a profound post the other day that she was gracious enough for me to share. I think it illustrates this idea well.
I think we’d all be happier people if we could take advice from babies:
1. Take a nap. Every day.
2. Wear comfy clothes!
3. Eat just what you need.
4. Go to bed early.
5. Cuddle. A lot.
7. Upset? Take a warm bath!
8. Look at pretty books.
9. Just stare out the window sometimes. God put some pretty neat things out there.
10. Smile when you look in the mirror. God made you awesome!
For some of us though, we have lost this natural capacity for self-love. Years of negative self-talk and put-downs have caused us to have a lowered self worth, not allowing ourselves to experience all the good God has for us.
Why does this happen? What makes us lose this innocence of self-love and self-worth?
Guilt and Shame. When we do something wrong, we can beat ourselves up. We have thoughts like, “Why did I think/say that? I must be a horrible person.” “I can’t believe I made that mistake. I’m a failure.” If you’re a Christian, those sins are no longer there! Remember Romans 8:1? “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Comparison. At some point you may have compared yourself to others and thought that you were not as good-looking, smart, athletic or (fill in the blank) as someone else. We can come to these conclusions based on society’s opinion of what is beautiful or important. This may have caused you to pick yourself apart and think you weren’t good enough.
Lies. In your life, there was probably a moment when someone said something critical about you, making you feel flawed. Or, maybe Satan tried to get you to believe something about yourself that was not true. Either way, we’ve got to recognize these lies and replace them with the truth. But what is the truth about who you are? The Bible tells us!
- You have been given a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). When God made you, he made a person full of love for yourself and others. He made you powerful, able to do great things for Him. And he gave you a sound, stable mind to navigate daily challenges. This is the true you, who you really are. Don’t identify yourself with the lies Satan spews!
- You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139). God carefully knitted you together in your mother’s womb and made you different from anyone else on the planet. He knows everything about you, inside and out. He knows you better than you know yourself. Realizing you are God’s special creation, how should you view yourself?
- You were bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20). What price? The very life of God’s only Son. If that doesn’t illustrate your worth, I don’t know what does. If God values you this much, how much should you value yourself?
Let’s look at some every day ways we can love ourselves.
How to Love Yourself
Take time for yourself. This is especially important if you’re a parent or have a schedule with very little free time. We all need time to be alone and recharge. Jesus made it a habit to go off by Himself for a break, to talk to the Father. Make sure you spend some time every day connecting with God and doing something just for you, just for fun.
Care for your physical body. Eat well, rest well, move your body. Very basic, very important. (Thank you for instilling this in me, mom). Get my FREE self-care guide here!
Care for your spirit. The greatest act of self love you can do is caring for your eternal soul! Read the Bible and learn the plan God has made for you to be forgiven and saved eternally. Contact me if you want to learn more.
Remember, you are just as important to God as every other person on this planet. Try to see yourself through His eyes!
I hope you learned a thing or two about how to love yourself. Do you have any good tips to add?