Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Is it OK to love myself?
I’m the rope in a tug of war on this issue. Here’s why:
My adulthood and new faith experience both developed at the same time as the find your inner self, please yourself, if it feels good do it, movements. Christian culture reacted in many different ways- mostly with a mighty shove against self-aggrandizement.
1. To increase the scope of; extend.
2. To make greater in power, influence, stature, or reputation.
3. To make appear greater; exaggerate: aggrandize one argument while belittling another.
I was raised, as many of you know, with an abusive verbal onslaught branding my mind to believe that I was not only unlovable but a bad seed. I knew then, and now, more than ever, that I was no angel. Yet the slant I’d been taught had me battling for years with these scriptures that seemed to put grace on one end of the rope and what seemed to be only raw truth on the other:
Rom. 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
2Tim. 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy (all obviously very bad things)
Then I ran across James 2:8 “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.”
Well I didn’t love myself.
And I thought that was ok, even scriptural.
So how could I ever obey this commandment to love my neighbor?
In one sense the question was answered with Matt. 7:12 “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them,”
But my early experience taught only self-protection, and I had little trust that I was worth being treated any way other than I’d known most of life.
I was one confused little chick.
Then I experienced both Grace and Truth together in the salvation experience of Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
I finally more than got it – and knew with certainly that I was truly loved. Now I had something to pass on to others.
Strong’s Concordance became dear as I searched the original meanings behind my questions. That little word “love” had so many nuances, n this verse it derived from an obsolete, seldom used form of etheleo, eth-el-eh´-o, - to determine, to incline myself toward, to choose to prefer others (put them first), to intend to, to delight to, be disposed to please…
It confirmed what I’d known. I could not previously shared what I did not have.
But wait! I was not “just” to share this with my neighbor. I was to experience it, and revel in it myself (so that) I would be able to share it.
Am I making sense? If I had just gone off and loved my neighbor as I loved myself at the time (even though I had recently begun a personal relationship with the Lord), it could not have been what God intended. How could I love others in truth before I had an idea of what love was? I needed to accept God’s love, soak in it, experience it, and fill up with it, so it would overflow naturally.
I had my first answer.
YES! It not only was ok to love myself, God wanted me to love who he loved (myself). God commanded me to love myself (his creation).