“The second is: ‘You must love others as much as yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.” (Mark 12:3)
According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, loving yourself from a biblical perspective refers to loving the image of God in you and the way He created you. This is not referring to a conceited, prideful, self-worship type of love.
Loving yourself and embracing your significance as a Christian is vital. We need to love and value ourselves in the same way God does.
Low self-esteem, beating ourselves up emotionally and physically (body image), defining ourselves through past mistakes and failures are all signs that we are not loving ourselves in the same way God loves us.
We can be bitter and unforgiving towards others. But we can also be bitter and unforgiving towards ourselves and God because of the way we perceive ourselves through our body image or the way things turned out for us in life.
I am learning that it is just as important to forgive myself as it is to forgive others.
Understanding the journey to self-worth and forgiveness for those who have known abuse of various kinds from childhood to adulthood is beyond my comprehension and not my experience.
According to Patricia Jones, M.A. of Dove Christian Counselling, “It takes years for abused people to learn to love themselves because mostly they have been surrounded by people who did not love them at all. In the mind of the one being abused love is always based on a condition to be met.”
If you were caught up in an abuse cycle, some kind of action was always required to gain approval and seemingly love from others. And often we feel that way towards God.
We believe we must do things to gain our Heavenly Father’s approval and acceptance.
Unfortunately this unbelief about God’s love for us transfers over into on how we feel about ourselves. If God doesn’t love us, how can we love ourselves.
We need to realize that God loves us, without any conditions attached. Most Christians acknowledge the fact that God loves them. We have read the verses and heard the sermons, but do we really believe them?
This is the tricky part. Verses that speak of God’s love need to be embedded in our heart and not just our minds. One of the ways to do this is through the ancient Biblical practice of meditation (Psalm 1:2).
I went through a very difficult time at work a few years ago involving false accusations. I was depressed and struggling to pull myself out of the downward spiral my emotions pulled me into.
To get out of bed in the morning and break through the feelings of worthlessness that overshadowed me was almost impossible.
The only way I could even begin to pull myself out of this emotional spiral was through meditating on specific verses that broke the false belief of being a failure.
I spent hours, daily, meditating on verses that spoke of God’s unfailing love and enduring faith. It was what kept me going and the only reason, I could get up in the morning and make it through one more day.
Something changed in me during this difficult period in my life and began to shift my perception of myself and my perception of God.
The verses that gave me hope anchored me in the truth of God’s steadfast and unfailing love for me during this season in my life. They have been embedded in my heart and my mind forever.
“Now we have this hope as a steadfast anchor of the soul (it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it – a hope) that reaches farther and enters into (the very certainty of the Presence) within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:19)