CHRISTIANS AND SELF-ESTEEM PART 4

While the Lord commands us to be humble and not proud, I’ve found that THE BIBLE DOESN’T ENCOURAGE US TO HAVE BAD, POOR, OR LOW SELF-ESTEEM. We’re commanded to deny and crucify self. But we’re never commanded or encouraged to hate ourself. I know Luke 14:26 tells us to hate our own life. The Lord isn’t talking about self-esteem here. The phrase is a Hebraic way of saying don’t love your own life more than you love me (see Matthew 10:37).

To the contrary, and perhaps much to our surprise,  WE ARE COMMANDED TO LOVE OURSELF! Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). The command was first given to Moses, then Jesus reiterated it, and Paul and James did too! And since that time, the love of neighbor and self has come to be known as the Great Commandment and Royal Law of Scripture.

As astounding as it may sound, brethren, IT ISN’T A SIN TO LOVE OURSELF. Like I’ve said already, the love of self so often leads to sin in the form of carnality, selfishness, and a life without God. No one’s arguing or denying that point. I’m not saying we should be proud, conceited, or self-centered. All I’m saying is God’s trying to tell us something about ourself and we need to listen. And what is He trying to tell us? That it’s okay to love ourself. In fact, He commands it! And it’s a command that doesn’t come with any rebukes or prohibitions.

In, of, and by itself, loving ourself isn’t sinful or wrong. Go back to the Great Commandment and Royal Law. If loving ourself is sinful and wrong God would never have  commanded  us  to  love  our  neighbor based on a love that’s sinful and wrong, namely, the love of self. GOD, BRETHREN, RECOGNIZES THE FACT THAT—EXCEPTIONS AND SPIRITUAL OPPRESSION ASIDE—ALL OF US LOVE OURSELF. HE DOESN’T DENY OR FORBID THAT. TO THE CONTRARY, HE WANTS US TO USE THIS LOVE OF SELF AS THE MEASURE BY WHICH WE LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR. WE ARE TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR AS MUCH AS–OR IN THE SAME WAY THAT–WE LOVE OURSELF.

WHY THE LOVE OF SELF IS SO NECESSARY AS GOD SEES IT

Within reason, LOVING OURSELF IS A GOOD AND HEALTHY THING. Why is that? Because WE TAKE CARE OF WHAT WE LOVE. Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 5:28-29, So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. {29} For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. If we didn’t love ourself we wouldn’t take care of ourself. We would abuse and misuse ourself. But the truth of the matter is, we take care of ourself because we love ourself. The love is what gives rise to, it’s what causes, the care. Said another way, PROPER CARE AND NURTURE OF OURSELF REQUIRES THAT WE LOVE OURSELF.

With this understanding in mind, the reason why it’s crucial for us to love ourself in relation to our neighbor is this. If we love our neighbor as ourself we’ll take care of our neighbor in the same way we take care of ourself. This is why all the commandments are fulfilled when we love our neighbor as ourself: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Galatians 5:14). Romans 13:8-10 echoes the refrain:  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. {9} For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. {10} Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

LOVING OURSELF, I’M SAYING, IS A GOOD AND HEALTHY THING. IT’S IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY—BOTH FOR OURSELF AND FOR OUR NEIGHBOR. AND IT’S AN ACT OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD.

Coming Up In My Next Blog Post, Part 5: How God wants us to view ourself.

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