AMH Series // His Word is Written Across My Heart
Have you ever gone to a party and realized that there is no one there you like? Sometimes you just don’t hit it off with the people there. Maybe it’s because you don’t have anything in common with any of them. Maybe they’re rude. You aren’t the same age. And you’re left feeling awkward and out of place.
As awful as it sounds, we’ve all been there. It could be an after school pool party or a giant family reunion. You feel trapped in the basement on the couch between your Great Aunt Martha and cousin twice removed, and you probably can’t wait for it to end.
But when the party is finally over and everyone goes home, there is one person you truly are stuck with at the end of night – yourself.
Learning to love yourself
It’s a long life if you don’t like the person who is always with you.
You know your deepest secrets, the darkest corners of your mind. You see all of your imperfections, and when you look in the mirror – do you even like yourself?
It’s wise to treat yourself kindly, to speak to yourself like you would a friend, and to love who God made you to be. You are stuck with yourself after all.
So many young women’s ministries tell girls it’s imperative to love yourself.
Tell yourself you are beautiful. You are worth it. Learn to love yourself.
In an effort to be helpful, they end up sounding more like self-help books than gospel-oriented truth.
Love or self-promoting pride?
Is loving yourself really the answer?
It seems like every week in the beauty industry there is a story about a plus size model promoting self-love. It’s usually an inspiring story on body image and self-acceptance. It seems innocent enough. With over 50% of women size 16+, we need to be having conversations about our culture’s tiresome habit of body shaming. It’s certainly helpful.
But I’ve noticed that almost every trending news article featuring plus sized empowerment is paired with pictures of the model flaunting her body as a sex object on the cover of Sports Illustrated or the latest lingerie line. The body she once thought was “unworthy” is now deemed “worthy” of sexual attention. Her self love is almost always used to promote herself by flaunting her body for attention.
Is it really loving? Or is it self-promoting?
Being confident. Thinking that you are awesome. It’s a self love that merely self promotes. And it’s certainly not the kind of self love God wants us to have for ourselves.
Our love, for others and for ourselves, should be rooted in the One who loves us.
The command to love
Jesus said there are two great commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.” And he says the second is like it. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40).
Some say that loving ourselves is a precondition to loving other people. But is Jesus really saying there is a third commandment?
Love God. Love others. And love yourself?
No. Jesus was quite clear that He was listing two commandments, not three. And I’m pretty sure Jesus knows how to count.
In fact, the Bible is clear that loving yourself for the sake of loving yourself is a sign of the last days.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy …(2 Timothy 3:1-2).
So if loving yourself isn’t a command, then how can you love “as yourself?”
Love as you are loved
After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.(Ephesians 5:29)
The way we treat others and the way we treat ourselves must be rooted in an understanding of Christ’s love for us.
When we feel down and depressed it’s likely because we are focused on ourselves and our own predicament instead of Him. Unhappiness is almost always associated with an obsession with what’s going wrong in our own life.
Guilt. Preoccupation with your own happiness. Selfishness. Sin. That’s why we don’t like ourselves. But the more we experience God’s forgiveness and love, the more we think of Him and the less we think about ourselves. When we are excited and secure in his love for us, finding meaning through our own self just doesn’t make sense. He is the source and the purpose for our existence and for our love.
We love because we are loved
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Jesus said the second commandment was “like the first” because it finds its roots in the same place… loving God with our whole self. We will love others and ourselves in light of His glory, not our own.
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.(Psalm 36:5)
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.(Psalm 52:8)
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
The answer to loving ourselves the way God intended is by understanding the depth of His love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace toward us. It’s the same love, mercy, forgiveness and grace He has for others! It should compel you to love them too!
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.(Ephesians 2:4-5)
When we comprehend God’s love, when we deeply know that He loves us, we don’t need to focus on loving ourselves. Because we already know we are loved by Him.
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One thought on “Why Self-Love Isn’t the Answer – Matthew 22:34-40”
Really powerful post with lots of food for thought. I’ve always struggled with self love, but you’ve given me a whole new perspective to it and to mull over. Really liked this post.