Many of us have been taught that “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 our goal is 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. Many believers 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.
1. 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. (1 Cor. 1:2, 1:30; Ephesians 2:5, 2:10)
2. 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.
3. 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)
4. 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 to realize our need to abandon and surrender our lives to God. When we understand that the God of the universe loves us and that in Christ we have worth and value to God, then we are compelled to give our lives to Him.
5. 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.” (Romans 8:1-7) 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 now our strength. We no longer perform in order to be accepted by God. We are accepted by God simply because we are in Christ.
God wired us to need Him. As we surrender and abandon our lives to Him, He gives us all we need to have a healthy self-worth. That worth is not dependent on measuring up to some unreasonable standard of behavior. But our worth is based upon our identity in Christ. In Christ we are made complete (Colossians 2:10). Then we can effectively express His love to others. When we exhibit a Christ centered love for ourselves, we will be a conduit of God’s love to everyone we encounter.