For years I thought to be a ‘good Christian,’ I must:
- Sacrifice all my needs for others
- I must not put myself first to remain humble
- Self-love was a sin
I formed these statements and beliefs from the scriptures shared with me out of context when I voiced my needs, or I stood up for myself while growing up. These statements were my truth for years because I didn’t know God’s word or His power. Once I learned about Christ’s love design through God’s word, I understood how I was deceived by not knowing God’s truth.
Freedom to Love Yourself
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39 NIV
If God didn’t want you to love yourself as much as you love others, God would not have made this statement His second greatest commandment. God includes us in the same sentence as our neighbor, on equal ground. So, what does this commandment look like in our life? How do we love ourselves and others equally? How do we keep ourselves from being prideful and humble?
To understand God’s commandment, we need to look at the definition and design of Christ’s love. His love is founded in God’s love and his identity as being the Son of God. We can see his love, we can feel it, and we can experience it through the fruits of the Holy Spirit that are implanted in us at our salvation. These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Christ is Our Example
When you study Christ’s life, you can see how he loved and cared for his heart and spirit as he continually went away to pray. He went to spend time alone with God to feed his spirit and to stay on his path. He prayed with his disciples and the people. He kept his spirit connected to God to live in His love and to share it with others.
Jesus also shows us that we are to love our bodies as we care for them. He ate when he was hungry. He rested when he was tired. He exercised his body. Christ’s self-love included the care of his physical body.
We also see how Jesus loved his mind by protecting it through God’s word. He continually spoke to God and never did anything without His guidance. By keeping connected to God, Jesus fulfilled the first commandment. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37, 38 NIV
As we obey God’s greatest two commandments, and we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ every day, we will work with Jesus to mature the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us. As Christ’s disciples, we will intentionally choose to think, speak, and act the way Jesus did in God’s love for ourselves as well as for others. We must never forget that we are in Christ and he is in us twenty-four hours a day. Therefore, we are responsible for making sure that we are loving him by loving ourselves as we love others.
God’s Truth is Bigger than Your Misguided Beliefs
Unfortunately, we all come from a broken understanding of love because we are not born knowing Christ’s true love. We form the messages we hear and adopt as our own, from the experiences we have, and from the beliefs we create as we grew up. However, we do not have to keep believing what is in our mind.
We can learn to stand in God’s truth about us and to work with Jesus to transform our mind, heart, soul, and life. It is time to live like you believe that you are loved so much because Jesus died for you. You were created in God’s love to live in God’s love as Christ lives in you. Therefore, you were designed and commanded to ‘love yourself as you love your neighbor.’
Follow Christ’s example of self-love. Memorize who God says you are, how much you are loved, and stand in your Christ-identity. Take time to love your spirit, mind, heart, soul, and body as you care for others.
When you continually let yourself get rundown from serving others, you are not loving yourself. There will be seasons in your life when you have small children, or you are taking care of your elderly parents that get off-balanced. However, the reality remains that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.
Balanced self-love is not being unhumble or prideful. We are responsible for taking care of the temple of Christ, which is our body. We may have to learn to say no to make sure we don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted. We may have to learn to draw boundaries to make sure we have time to love Jesus living in us, which is loving ourselves. We alone are responsible for ourselves.
Nothing in your life will have a greater impact on your spirit, mind, heart, soul, and body than learning to live in Christ’s balanced self-love. Only you have the power through Christ to change your future by learning to love yourself. Be transformed as you love yourself in Christ.
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