Love Yourself Well
It’s considered thoroughly Christian to love others and rather less spiritual to love yourself. But Hebrew law and the teaching of Jesus lumped the two together in a way not many people notice. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31 niv), we’re told, usually with an emphasis on loving the neighbor. But that “as” is an important word. It is loaded with implications.
Have you ever considered that if you don’t love yourself, loving your neighbor in the same way you love yourself actually creates a problem? If you have deeply ingrained patterns of shame, self-rejection, bitterness, inferiority, or even just carelessness, no one wants you loving them in the same way you love yourself. No, the world needs you to love yourself deeply—in a healthy, non-narcissistic, affirming way—and then love it just the same.
This is actually what Jesus meant. No one can really love well, as God intended, without knowing his love in the deepest core of their being (1 John 4:19). A heart saturated in his love is then equipped to love others freely. Those who have been forgiven can forgive. Those who have experienced grace and give it out. Those who have been affirmed are free to affirm. Those who have had the Spirit poured into them can pour the Spirit out. That’s how it works.
Love yourself as God loves you. Choose to agree with him about your value, no matter how much shame and rejection you’ve felt in the past. You can’t reject yourself and accept others; this is a both/and proposition. If you want to love your neighbor well—and you should—then love yourself well. Just as God does.
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