Many of us have been taught “to love yourself is to be self-centered and egotistic.” In a way, there is some truth to that idea. When you think only of yourself it leads to an unhealthy, unbalanced life. As followers of Christ we long to be God-centered, being careful to put Him first so that everything else will fall into its proper place.
However, in trying to keep that balance, sometimes we miss the importance of having a healthy self-worth. Somehow we have developed a resistance to anything that hints that we should love ourselves. Maybe it’s because of all the TV talk shows that champion the idea that we should do what is best for us, even if it means aborting our unborn child or leaving our spouse for someone else? Or maybe it comes from our religious upbringing that taught us that we are always just ole sinners, and that’s all we will ever be. But having a proper concept of self-worth is important for several reasons.
We are made in the image of God – The Scripture proclaims that man is made in the image of God. Once we are placed into Christ we are declared a saint, holy, righteous, citizen of Heaven, more than conquerors, delivered from darkness, joint heirs with Christ, and seated in heavenly places, and a host of other attributes that God gives us at Salvation. (1 Cor. 1:2, 1:30; Ephesians 2:5, 2:10) If God gives us those things, then we should choose to believe what God says about us regardless of how we feel about ourselves. Remember, there is power in truth; it sets us free – free to be what God has destined and designed us to be.
We are a conduit of Christ’s love to others – God could have the trees and the rocks to declare His glory, but He chooses to use us. His life flows through us in order to reveal Christ to a lost and hurting world. When we have the attitude that we are failures, incapable, inadequate and unworthy that attitude is transferable to those we encounter. How can we portray the victorious Christ to others when we are displaying defeat, and dejection? Our attitude tells our story before we open our mouth. Besides, how you feel about yourself is going to affect how you treat others.
The Scripture says that we are to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Every thought includes thoughts that don’t agree with God’s estimate of you, including those critical thoughts you feed yourself every day. We lost the right to beat up on ourselves when we gave our life to Christ.
The Spirit of God tends to flow freely through those who are at peace with who they are. I am reminded of saying I heard when I was a kid, “If you are happy notify your face.” Who wants to open themselves to receive truth from someone who doesn’t even love themselves? (Ephesians 4:17-27) Your facial expressions, your eyes and your body language say a lot about whether you are at peace with God and with yourself. When you are at peace with God and with yourself, Christ is lifted up and men and women are drawn to Him.
Loving ourselves is a key element in abandonment and surrender. When we realize that God accepts and loves us just as we are, this helps us realize our need to abandon and surrender our lives to God. When we understand that the God of the universe can love and use us, then we are compelled to give our lives to Him. (Romans 2:4)
God desires for us to live in the context of what He has done in our lives not in the context of what we were before He saved us. One of the most defeating concepts of the Christian life is that we are “just ole sinners saved by grace.” Yes, our nature before salvation was a sinner without hope, but since salvation we have a new nature. We are now “a Saint who sometimes sins.” Do you see the difference? One is a mentality of a sinner; the other is a mentality of a Saint. Since we have been set free from the dominion of sin, the joy of the Lord is our strength, not our good performance and good deeds. (Romans 6)
When we are resting in and trusting the Lord for every aspect of our life we can effectively express His love to others. As we exhibit a humble and Christ-like kind of love for ourselves then we will be a conduit of God’s love to everyone we encounter.
Loving ourselves in the context of humility is a good thing. It allows us to be salt and light in order that the Holy Spirit might just open someone’s heart to Christ. You may be the only Bible someone will encounter, so receive Christ’s gift of His love for you and radiate that love in order that you may love others into the Kingdom.