Galatians 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I often wonder … “why do I have such a problem loving my neighbor?” I mean, I do love my family and those I associate with. However, there are times when I cannot stand to be around them, or I do not have a loving attitude toward them. I believe it is because of what the verse says: “love your neighbor as yourself”. I do not love myself very much. How can I love others when I do not love myself?
Why do we have such a problem loving ourselves? I notice that I do not receive compliments very well. When someone is giving me a compliment, I cannot look them in the eye. I am embarrassed and I do not believe them. I beat myself up for the sinfulness in my life. I visit a friend and I am parched, but when he asks if I want something to drink, I refuse. Even though I do not accept compliments, etc. well, I crave them.
I believe that Satan has twisted and perverted scripture to convince us that we are not worthy of being loved. We are reminded to get rid of “selfish ambition” (Gal. 5:20). We are to clothe ourselves with “humility” (Col. 3:12). We are told not to “think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Rom. 12:3). “Evildoers are full of boasting” (Ps. 94:4). In 2 Timothy 3:2, Paul talks about the evil being lovers of themselves and boastful. These scriptures echo in my mind as I think about loving myself. It becomes counterintuitive to love myself according to the above passages. I believe Satan has twisted these and played these in my mind when I am actually feeling good about myself in the Lord.
In this broken world, many times there are those around me who have said hurtful things to me and about me. Some true, some not, some out of their own pain, and some in the heat of the moment. In most cases, those who have hurt me had remorse and/or have asked forgiveness. However, the message from that hurt continues to play in my mind long after the initial hurt. I use those messages to beat myself up and tell myself that I am not worthy of love.
But the passage “love your neighbor as yourself” keeps coming back to me over and over. So how do I love myself without boastfulness or selfish ambition? Why is this so hard? I believe I tend to hide the things I do not like about myself for fear I will not be loved. I have found in recent times that talking about those hidden things with others has actually freed me to be loved more. However, it is still hard to release those things out of fear.
Of course, there are the obvious answers like: I know that God created me and loves me; listing my blessings; my family loves me unconditionally; etc. But getting those from knowledge to feeling is so difficult. I have to fight a battle daily to rid myself of the lies that Satan has suggested about me.
Once I begin to love myself as God loves me...loving others becomes more natural.
1. In what ways do you beat yourself up?
2. What have you noticed about the connection of loving others and loving yourself?
3. What is it about your character that prompts you to be harder on yourself than on others?
4. List your good character traits. If you need help, ask a trusted friend.
5. Spend time each day this week asking Jesus to point out to you the good qualities he gave you as a gift. Make note of your good character traits.
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