Do you love yourself?

Disobedience to God is in direct opposition to loving God, myself or my neighbour.

Do you love yourself?  I think those words will make many Christians cringe.  Many of us have thought that loving self was selfishness. We can have a wrong concept and be confused if we don’t understand what Jesus said (Luke 14:26) “and hate his own life also”.  People that rally hate their lives often commit suicide.  That thinking is not at all what Jesus is teaching.  What is He saying?  Jesus is telling me to hate a lie that would be very harmful to me.  Notice that Jesus says “his own life”.  If I choose by my own choice a life which caters to the dictates of my own will and appetites, a life that ignores God’s will, I am building a life of personal disaster.  So, I can fully understand why Jesus told me to hate such a life.  I used to think that self-denial (Matthew 16:24) was the opposite of loving myself, but now I see that the exact opposite of that thinking is true.  Self-denial protects me from the destructive kind of life which Jesus told me to hate.  His warning is vitally important.

Please bear with me and let me share with you some of the things the Holy Spirit has explained and continues to explain to me.

We are told (Deuteronomy 6:5) to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  We are told (Leviticus 19:18) to love our neighbour as we love our self.  This implies self-love, not self-hatred.  Jesus combined the two (Matthew 22:37-39) and said if we obey them, we will fulfill the requirements of the whole Law. Jesus included the three objects of our love, God, neighbour, self, and presented it as a command.  In mythology, Narcissus was a youth who was totally captivated and enamoured with his own appearance, and his self-idolatry led him to complete ruin.  Self-idolatry and genuine self-love are farther apart than the north and south poles.  Certainly, Narcissus knew nothing about true self-love.  Conceit is not love, pride is not love, snobbery is not love, but all of these are damaging (Proverbs 16:18) to anyone who wears them.  Self-catering idolatry is the life Jesus told me to hate because it offers nothing of the good life best for me.

God is perfect love and He expresses His love in everything including the Creation.  When the Lord finished Creation, He pronounced it “very good”.  That means that everything He created (including you and me) was God’s very best.  Why should I love myself?  Because I am a work of God (Ephesians 2:10) His own workmanship.  Also, because I was purchased and redeemed by Him (1 Peter 1:19) at the exorbitant cost of the precious, priceless Blood of Jesus.  One very good reason for me to love myself is that the Sovereign God loves me and understood unconditional, unchanging eternal love, love that is pure and holy and without prejudice.

I need to have genuine love and respect for the SELF that the Lord is making me progressively and increasingly to be – continually being conformed to the image of Jesus – with the understanding to see that self-denial is what is best for the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) my new self.  Loving myself does not mean that I condone sin in myself or in others.  Righteous love for myself will greatly increase my hatred for sin.  If I see sin in my neighbour, I can hate the sin but still love the individual and obey the Lord in anything He tells me to do for my neighbour’s good, which must include praying for him.

The Holy Spirit has given me deeper understanding and a whole new way of looking at this subject.  Now I see that self-denial is a healthy part of loving myself.  By deliberately not indulging the flesh, I am doing what is good and best for myself.  A child who is genuinely loved is not given everything he wants simply because that is not good for him.  He is given food, shelter, clothes, education, loving attention and wise discipline.  I am God’s child and I am responsible to always do and give those things that are designed for my good and in my best interest because of the very fact that I am a child of God, with all the privileges of God’s family.

Regarding neighbours as self:  The love of God goes beyond neighbours and includes enemies.  If your enemy (Proverbs 25:21, Romans 12:20) is hungry and your brother (James 2:15-16) is hungry, feed them just as I feed myself when I am hungry.  The same Scriptural principle (Romans 12:17) which tells me to feed, pray for and forgive my enemies also commands me not to retaliate or to mistreatment (Luke 6:28).  If I do, I am choosing to place myself on his level of wrongdoing.  Such disobedience is definitely not loving myself or my enemy who is my neighbour.  I am getting a clearer picture of loving others as myself.  It is doing what is in my best interest and doing for others what is in their best interest.  The doing for others is actually in my best interest and so is related to loving myself.  That could apply to people overseas through missionary projects for fellow-Christians and people around me where God has placed me.  If whatever I do (1 Corinthians 10:31) is for the Glory of God, it will always be the best for me and that is truly loving myself.  I used to think that loving myself would be self-serving, self-promoting, self-protecting and that self-denial was the opposite of self-love.  The Holy Spirit has given me further illumination, a completely new understanding.  Self-denial is actually wise self-control because it is what is best for myself.  Self-love freely enjoys all of God’s goodness but excludes every form of carnality and indulgence because they are very harmful to me, the very one I am required to guard, protect and love.  If I don’t love God, I cannot love others because God alone is the Source of genuine love.  (Dr. Stanley) “I cannot pump up love for God and others, and even if I could it would not be true love.”  That is why it is essential for me to allow the Holy Spirit to produce in me and pour out through me (Romans 5:5) love for God and for others.  Disobedience to God is in direct opposition to loving God or myself or my neighbours.  If I choose God’s will over my own, if I walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and not in the flesh, then I will be loving myself, because I’ll be doing what is the very best for myself. Then I can be an obedient conduit through which God’s love will be poured out in love for my neighbours.  The Holy Spirit controls the flow as I surrender to Him.

From the thoughts in my mind and the longings in my heart this brief poem was born.

   Holy God of wonder, beauty and mystery,

   Sovereign of the universe and yet is very near and dear to me

   How can it be?  Oh, can it truly be?

   That Jesus will be seen by all who see me!

                                           (Galatians 1:15-16)


I want to be so completely surrendered to the Holy Spirit so that He can turn the tap on full, for the outflowing of God’s love.

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