By: Mike Foster
Before I accepted my identity as God’s beloved, I was never enough. What I accomplished was never enough. And whatever good was there in front of me was impossible for me to take pleasure in, because I was trying so hard to be good that I could never just embrace the good.
I was always bringing a false self to God, but God can’t love a false self. So I was unable to experience God’s love. I had no idea who I was. And in that confusion a light dawned, dim but sure.
I knew I needed to love myself again. The real me. I needed to present my real self, with all its flaws, all its mistakes, all its failures, and all its cowardice and cruelty, to God. I needed to feel my heavenly Father wrap his arms around the real me and say he loved and accepted me by his grace.
It can sound a little selfish and touchy-feely to say that self-love is the answer to our deepest needs. Isn’t this just more positive psychology hoo-ha? Nope. We see the principle right there in the words of Jesus.
When Jesus was asked to pick the greatest commandment, he actually offered up two commandments from two Old Testament scriptures and then fused them together into a one-two punch of how to live a powerful life. He said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).
I’m no Bible scholar, but I can’t help but notice those last two words: “as yourself.” In one statement Jesus links the ideas of loving God, loving your neighbor, and loving yourself. In my experience, this rings true. All three of those loves tend to rise and fall together. The more you love one, the more you love the others. People who never learn to love their true selves are often also limited in their love for God and others.
What if the person who you need to be kindest to is yourself? What if the enemy you need to forgive or the prisoner you need to release is your true self? That is why God redeemed you.
How can you begin to love yourself better today?