People seem to be fascinated with the subject of self-love lately.
Even in the faith community, we’ve bought into the idea that we can’t love others well until we love ourselves well.
After all, Jesus said:
‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’Matthew 22:39
But I wonder if putting self-love first doesn’t tempt us to put our own wants and needs ahead of the needs of others. You see, we make love simply an emotional issue when it’s really about caring for ourselves and others.
We know to eat and put clothes on, to stay safe and warm, to work and rest. And we know God has commanded us to care for others in ways that make those things possible in their lives as well.
And as followers of Jesus – we also know the most loving thing we can do for others is to show them grace, mercy, and love . . . to show them Jesus, who said:
Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.John 13:34
How did Jesus love us? Sacrificially!
Today is the first day of Lent: the 40 weekdays between Ash Wednesday and Easter that many Christians acknowledge as a time of repentance and penitence to pause and intentionally focus on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Jesus gave up the glories of heaven, lived among sinful people, faced demons, and satan himself. He suffered an unimaginable torturous death to save you and me.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.1 John 3:16
And if you were the only person in the world . . . He would have given His love just for you. Remember His parable about leaving the 99 to save the 1. (Matthew 8:12–14)
So, please let me tie it all together.
I’m not saying that loving yourself isn’t important. God loves and cares for us and wants us to love and care for ourselves. I believe it’s important for us to know how to set godly healthy boundaries and to be good stewards of the life God has given us. But I also wonder if we’re not supposed to feel some tension as we strive to balance the way we love ourselves and the way we love others. We have to carefully resist selfishness, self-absorption, self-justification, and self-righteousness to give of ourselves and love like Jesus.
May we ask God to forgive our failures and Him to help us balance love for self and love for others in ways that glorify and honor Him.
A Prayer to Balance Self-Love in Ways that Glorify God
Father, thank you for Your overwhelming love . . . for sending Jesus to save me. He showed the world what love looks like. He showed us true love. He showed us Your love.
Please forgive me. I so easily give in to the lie that says self-love can be selfish. The messages that I can’t take care of others if I haven’t first taken care of myself, that it’s okay to put my needs ahead of the needs of others.
You want me to love the beautiful unique person You created me to be. You want me to take care of myself emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. You want me to bring my cares and concerns to You in prayer and You want me to trust You with all that I am. You want me to surrender myself to You and open myself to Your help so that I might balance loving myself and loving others in ways that glorify and honor You.
Please help me balance the ways I love in ways that honor and glorify You. I love You, Lord. I praise and worship You. I give myself to Your loving care and ask You to help me spend this season of Lent loving You and loving others. I pray this all in the name of Jesus whose love changes everything. Amen.
Although Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords . . . He showed us that self-love begins with humility.
gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.Philippians 2:7–8
Loving like Jesus is not possible without God’s help. Thankfully, by His grace, we have His Spirit, the One Jesus called the Helper . . . and He makes the impossible possible.
With His help, we can find the balance between loving ourselves and loving others like Jesus . . . love that begins with humility.
God bless you as you focus your heart and mind on Jesus the One who makes faith, hope, and love possible.
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