By Alisha Headley, Crosswalk.com
What does it mean to love yourself? More than ever, we are spending thousands of dollars on things such as workout regimens, Botox, massages, manicures, pedicures, diet pills, athletic attire, therapy, life coaching, and all kinds of wellness apps on our phones. All in an effort to improve the love we have for ourselves.
If we google how to love ourselves, we will find endless articles on this topic. Self-care, a common phrase given from the world to love ourselves, has become a vast $450 billion market, whereas it only had an estimated value of $10 billion less than a decade ago. The internet and social media play a huge part in this astronomical growth. However, as a believer and follower of Christ, I can't help but wonder – what does it actually mean to love myself? When I think of the life of Jesus, I think of how much he loved others first and cared for others in all circumstances. He loved us so much that He died a brutally painful death on the cross for us (John 3:16). So, the thought of loving myself seems to go against the Christian way of living, right?
While Jesus was so selfless, loving myself seems so selfish. And while he exemplified all the love He had for others, the world encourages us to love ourselves as there are many emphases to take care of ourselves first and foremost. So, the question remains, is it Biblical to love ourselves?
The Greatest Commandments in the Bible
Throughout Jesus's ministry, he became widely known but not always widely liked, and He was therefore often questioned. We find in Matthew 22:34-40 that a Pharisee asks Jesus what the greatest commandment in the Law is. Jesus answered him saying, "you shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
I've heard this Scripture and story many times in my life. God wants us to love Him first, and then we are instructed to love others. But one thing that didn't resonate with me until recently was the last two words of the second commandment. While we are told to love our neighbors, we are told to love them "as yourself." According to this Scripture verse, we are told it's Biblical to love ourselves and part of a commandment. But we must make sure we are loving ourselves the way God does, and not the world tells us to love ourselves.
Do You Love Yourself by the World's Standards or by Christ's?
The only way to love yourself Biblically is to know the love Christ has for you unconditionally. We can't give a love we don't know. Better said – you cannot love others and, therefore, yourself if you don't know the unconditional love God has for you. And this isn't just knowing what we were taught in Sunday school that Jesus loves us. Oh no, this is living from a place of love. Being love. Living loved. That no matter what storm comes our way and tosses us to and fro, we are so engulfed in God's love for us that nothing, no one, and nothing said or done in the past can sway us from the foundation of love we have in Christ. For his love is a sacrificial love. An unconditional love. We can't love our neighbors, nor can we love ourselves until we experience and walk in all the fullness and assurance of His love.
One of the most beautiful descriptions of God's love is summed up in Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:17-19, where he talks about being consumed by the fullness of Christ's love. His prayer is that "Christ will make his home in our hearts as we trust in him. That our roots would grow down into God's love and keep us strong. That we may have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. That we may experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. But it is then, that we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
How are We to Walk in the Fullness of God's Love?
Fill yourself up with God's love vs. the love from the world. In order to love yourself by walking in the fullness of God's love, we must take inventory of what we are filling ourselves up with and what our lives are full of. Are we filling ourselves upon the love of God or things that the world deems as love?
This is a choice we must make daily to fill ourselves with the love of God vs. the love of the world. The more we fill ourselves up with God's life-giving love, the less we will be distracted by grasping for things of the world. We must remove anything in our life that is taking the place of God's love and allow His love to be on the throne of our hearts above anything else. Mathew 6:33 says to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." We often seek love from the world as our first focus and then add God into our lives and circumstances, rather than seek God first and add our circumstances second.
To love ourselves biblically and the way God designed us is to know how the designer Himself feels about us and loves us. Once we accept this love He has for us, we can love Him back, prompting us to love ourselves the way He sees us and then love others properly. So, I encourage you today to trade it all in. Trade-in all the things of the world infiltrating your mind of false love and false fulfillment for everlasting love filling upon God's love vs. the love from the world.
Learning to Love Yourself with the Truth of His Word
What lies do you believe about yourself that are preventing you from loving yourself the way God does? Do you think you are ugly, not good enough, or unlovable? Or perhaps you simply don't know where to start loving yourself because you never felt loved before?
The way to dive into His love and learn to love yourself truly is to dive into His Word – the Bible. The "living, active, and powerful" Word." (Hebrews 4:12) The words in the Bible are God's words that breathe into the very depths of your soul. They will fill you, comfort you, and be your everyday guide.
The world is full of temporary lesser loves that never leaves us filled. To love ourselves Biblically, we must learn to fill ourselves with the truth from our One true love. This is the truth of what God's love says about us, and the way to do this is through His very own Word. We must begin to spend time in the Word full of the constant reminders of how much we are so loved. Let's filter every thought and belief that we feel about ourselves through the filter of truth. It is through the truth of God's Word that we can learn to love ourselves with the fullness of His absolute assurance.
It Is Ok to Love Yourself
It's ok to love yourself. In fact, God tells us to do so in Scripture, telling us that in order to love others, we must first love ourselves. And in order for us to love ourselves, we must first understand God's love for us by knowing just how wide and deep his love is. It is a never-ending, never-failing, and unconditional complete love. No matter what you've done, what others have said about you, or what you've believed as a lie about yourself, it doesn't compare to the truth of how much He feels about you. Let's begin immersing ourselves in the Word of God so that His words can penetrate deep into every fabric of who we are. Then we can live life fully, totally, and completely loved knowing it's ok to love ourselves the way our God does.
Photo credit: © Getty Images/Aaron Amat
Alisha Headley is a writer + speaker who has a desire to meet the everyday woman in her everyday life with biblical truth. Stepping into her true calling, she left the corporate world behind as a former-financial VP to love on her family as a stay-at-home wifey + dog mama, while also being able to pursue her passion as a writer. Healing from a chapter of life consumed with lies she once believed about herself, she is inspired to point women to Christ to experience the freedom + power to overcome those lies with the truth written in God’s word. In her free time, Alisha enjoys road trips around the country, working out so she can eat her favorite foods, and creatively styling her outfits with a craft for fashion. Alisha is a proud wifey and dog mama living in Scottsdale, Arizona.