Loving Yourself

Apr 24, 2024 by Colleen C Orchanian

Some might say, Loving Myself? What’s the big deal about that? I mean, what’s not to love?

Others might think, Loving myself? That’s pretty egotistical. That’s not a good thing!

Both of those thoughts are off-center. Neither is healthy self-love.

We can agree that we are to love God and love our neighbor. But how can we know that God wants us to love ourselves? Let’s look at Scripture for answers.

In Matthew 22:39 we are told, Love your neighbor as yourself” If I don’t love myself, I can’t love my neighbor very well. Jesus didn’t say not to love yourself. He said to love others as you love yourself, assuming that you would actually love yourself.

Why? Why would we love ourselves? For the same reason, we love others. First, it’s because they - and we - are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:25). We humans are God’s greatest creation. Psalm 189 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We might jokingly say that someone thinks they are God’s gift to the world, but that’s true. We are God’s gift to the world.

When baptized, we join God’s family. We become royalty – sons and daughters of the King. We are somebody. Not only that, we are somebody worth dying for.

Do I love what God loves? If God loves me, shouldn’t I love me, too?

God loves me – and you – not because of anything we do, but simply because we are His. He loves us in our places of failure and our places of success. He loves us not for what we do but because of who He is. If you have moments when you doubt God’s love, pray with Scripture: The Prodigal Son – imagine you are the prodigal and God is the father welcoming you back - the Samaritan Woman at the Well. You are the outcast and Jesus is inviting you into His circle of friends. Peter after his denial three times. You are Peter who has failed when you were certain you would not. Jesus asks you if you love him and gives you your life’s mission. If God loved them, He loves us as well.

When we love ourselves, we are receiving God’s love for us. That is worth remembering when we struggle with self-love.

Another extreme of self-love is the presumption that God has to love me. I’m a pretty good person so what’s not to love? The danger in this perception is that there is no need to improve. No need to strive for holiness. No thought about becoming a saint. Even more, there is no gratitude. It also means that God’s love is based on my goodness, not on God’s nature. If I stray and become a not-so-good person, I may conclude that God will stop loving me, and that’s a lie.

The idea of self-love is a challenge because satan has distorted it. He wants us to be off-balance in our love of God, self, and others. He feeds us lies and we believe them. For example:

He can’t love me. He doesn’t really love anyone individually – just this mass of humanity, not one single person. This lie makes us question God’s love when love is the essence of God's nature. God is love.

I have to be perfect before God so he will love me. I can’t show God my imperfect parts. These lies make God’s love about my work. I have to earn it. And God doesn’t want to see my brokenness. I won’t bring those parts of me before God when that’s exactly what I need to do to be healed.

Self-love is prideful. Self-hatred is a virtue. Healthy self-love is not prideful. Egotistical love is prideful. Am I not to love how God made me? Should I not take pleasure in his creation of me? This isn’t the same as the Pharisee who prayed, thank you God for not making me like the tax collector over there. I do all the right things. That’s not healthy self-love. But I can love the gifts God gave me. I can love the opportunities He gave me to use those gifts. I can be delighted in the way he allows me to build up the Kingdom of God. This is healthy self-love. Self-hatred, on the other hand, is when we put ourselves down. We think we are worthless, but God says we have great value.

I have to love myself before I can love others. The problem with this lie is that it can lead a person to focus all their attention on their own happiness. Loving myself indeed helps me better love others, but the focus should be on loving others, not on self-happiness.

When we have self-love, we are receiving God’s love for us. We are allowing God to love us. The more confident we are in God’s love, the less we need validation from others in the world. Those moments when we seek validation and love from the world may indicate that we are not receiving God’s love. Not that He isn’t offering it, but we aren’t getting it. If you recognize that’s happening, you can try to figure out why. And then you get back in balance. Loving God, loving others, and loving self.

Here are three things we can do to develop healthy self-love:

Grow in self-knowledge. Where are you on the continuum of self-love? Do you tend to presumption (God’s gotta love me) or doubt (God can’t love me)? Why? What life experiences have affected your ability to have healthy self-love? What lies are feeding your imbalance?

Seek Healing. Bring God into the places in your heart that are broken, wounded, or you think are unlovable. Ask Him to love you there.

Pray always. Ask for eyes to see God’s love for you each day and for gentle rebukes when you fail.

God wants us to love ourselves. He wants us to have healthy self-love that allows us to better love Him and our neighbor. Ask God to reveal His love for you, and receive that love fully. Bask in His love. Nothing compares to that!

Questions for prayer:

  1. When or in what areas of your life are you confident of God’s love for you? How does that affect your self-love and your ability to love others?

  2. Which of satan’s lies about self-love have you believed? Why have you accepted that lie? How can you reject it?