Part of my daily morning prayer is that I would fulfill my purpose in life by loving God completely, loving myself correctly, and to love others with compassion. Loving my Savior comes easily. I pray and work towards having His eyes when I see others. But loving myself correctly can sometimes escape my grasp. How do we balance the truth of our sinfulness with knowing He made us in His image? What does the Bible say about loving yourself?
Self Love in the Bible
Are self-love and Christianity compatible? Is loving yourself Biblical? Jesus speaks to those questions when He spells out the importance of love in Matthew 22:38-39. He gives us the greatest commandment – to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. The second one, He states, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Before all else, we must love God first- with every part of our being. It is our rock solid foundation for all that follows, including knowing how to love ourselves and show His love to others.
Made in God’s Image
God didn’t create man because of boredom, loneliness, or need. He created us in His image to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. If God’s image is one of unfathomable worth, then being made in His image helps us understand our own worth and purpose.
But the Bible also warns us that in the terrible last days people will be “lovers of self… rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2) Clearly then, there is a distinction in self love that we need to understand.
Is Loving Yourself a Sin?
Let’s begin with what a distorted self-love looks like, so we know what not to do…
The 2 Timothy verse above speaks of a sinful self love. Paul describes the love in this verse as the Greek word philautos, a selfish and arrogant self-love; intent only on one’s self-interests. People will completely take their eyes off God and their lives will revolve only around themselves and their interests.
In contrast, the love Jesus speaks of in our Matthew verses was agape love- that precious, faithful, committed love that is the highest form of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. That’s the love we should show for God, self, and others.
Understanding Self Love
Christian self love is based on the love God has for us- selfless and unconditional.
While many of us know our identity in Christ and believe He loves us unconditionally, we can still struggle with a right self-love attitude.
The world and culture today send us completely different messages than Scripture. It tells us we are basically good. (We’re not.) It says that loving ourselves means we accept all our flaws and place our needs and desires first. (Not Biblical.)
It also gives us impossible ideals to live up to. We look in the mirror and concentrate on the things we don’t like about ourselves. It may be our physical self, or things we regret saying or doing in the past. We dislike some of our character traits and feel insecure and guilt. We beat ourselves up over our shortcomings.
Why do we do that?
Because the enemy loves to get inside our head and tell us our looks/personality/ previous blunders, etc., means we’re not worthy of love. He’s the inner bully that eggs us on to self-loathing instead of self love. He will try anything to separate us from God’s love.
So, what is the key to loving yourself correctly?
Importance of Self Love
We need to remember that our self love is based on the deep agape love of God and that Jesus’ selfless sacrifice saved us. Therefore, He never wants us to see ourselves as worthless!
Listening and believing what He says about us helps us have the correct attitude of self love.
Self Love and God
We know as Christians that we are sinners saved by His grace alone. Christian self-love admits our guilt and flaws, confessing and surrendering ourselves to Jesus. His grace never puts us down or shames us.
He doesn’t want us to pick ourselves apart or become consumed with insecurities. Likewise, He doesn’t want us on the other end of the spectrum with an inflated, prideful ego. Pride is in us by nature. We have to work against it and not allow it to take root.
Acknowledging His boundless love and what He has done for us should fill us with a humble spirit. Through Him, we see ourselves as washed clean and fully redeemed.
A correct self love comes through seeing ourselves as He sees us. That gives us the correct balance of humility and confidence to love ourselves correctly.
Our self love will naturally waver from time to time. We can overcome, however, and free ourselves from negative self-thoughts. It takes persistence (it’s a lifelong process), knowing what He says about us in His Word, and a resolve to keep our eyes on Jesus.
Bible Verses about Loving Yourself
We’ve already mentioned Matthew 22:38-39, where Jesus tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We can find that same command 7 other times in Scripture (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8.) It’s obviously an important topic!
Before we can show His love and care for others, we need to love ourselves correctly. We learn to love ourselves when we understand how God sees us. Gaining this understanding means knowing His Word and what He says about us.
∙ “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24.
What a gift! We can come as we are and let Him love and embrace us. He paid the price with His genuine and gracious love. Our guilt and shame are gone! True self love is accepting yourself as wholly loved and completely redeemed.
∙ “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good.” Proverbs 19:8 NKJV.
Seeking wisdom is to love ourselves. Loving ourselves in this way is good for our lives.
∙ “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14a.
God put His character in you when He formed you. He designed and loves the you He created. His very Spirit is within you. Love and respect yourself as much as He does!
∙ “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last.” John 15:16.
The King of the universe has chosen you! Your life has a grand purpose, and He is counting on you to help Him carry out His plans.
God Teach Me How to Love Myself
Another aspect of self-love is caring for ourselves physically, spiritually, and mentally.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
∙Our bodies are God’s, and He lives within us. He considers it a temple- a sacred place. Because our bodies are His, we need to adhere to His standards. Basic self-care (a healthy diet, enough sleep, etc.) and exercise are healthy ways to care for our bodies.
∙Time spent reading and studying His word and in prayer keeps us spiritually on track in our relationship.
∙Accept His love for you. Focus on Him. Jesus said He came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). When we understand the importance of self-love and practice it correctly, we can enjoy the depth of His indescribable gift, and pass it on to others.
5 Ways to Love Yourself
Learn, value, and accept your identity in Christ. He values and cherishes you. You are precious to Him. Do you value yourself in the same way God does? Pray to receive His love, care, and compassion instead of pushing it away.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Keep your eyes on Jesus instead. He has a plan and a purpose that only you can fill. Spend some time thinking about your positive traits, gifts, and abilities. He gave them to you and values how you use them for Him. Know who you are and accept how He made you.
Recognize you’re not perfect. No one is perfect! Our Christian journey is one of “sanctification”- becoming more Christ-like. Don’t let your mistakes define who you are. Don’t listen to the voice of the enemy; listen to the voice of your Savior.
Forgive and show compassion to yourself. Give yourself the same grace that Jesus does. His compassion and forgiveness give us the overwhelming reassurance of His great love. Learning how to give ourselves grace helps us love and respect ourselves.
Don’t be afraid to ask Him for help when you need it. He wants to give us His strength, guidance, and help when we struggle with our self worth.
What Does God Say about Self Love?
Jesus has great plans for you! He wants us to partner with Him to heal the world with His love.♥
When Jesus instructed us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He meant that in the same way we love ourselves and our interests, we should likewise do the same for others.
Being successful in loving others begins with loving ourselves correctly. It is a lifelong, but not impossible process! God sent Jesus to earth to show how much He loves us. It is our job to show His love to others. We can only do that when we properly love ourselves by receiving His love in our hearts and accepting the worth that comes from being His child.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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