The other day, while I was doing my at-home yoga practice, the instructor kept talking about self-love. This was no surprise as the practice was titled “Self Love Yoga”. But there were so many phrases she said that stood out to me like a bell ringing in my ears.
“Breathe lots of love in, breathe lots of love out.”
“You have to learn to love yourself before you can love others.”
And it just hit me—what would the world look like if Christians actually lived like this?
The Bible is all about love—God loving us, us loving God, us loving others, etc. but how often do we really focus on us loving ourselves? There’s this unspoken (and sometimes loudly spoken) theory penetrating Christiandom that we’re not supposed to love ourselves. The thought that the love of self can lead to all kinds of terrible things permeates our modern Christianity, a thought which simply isn’t true.
“…when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
I’m not good at loving God, I’m even worse at loving others, but I’m absolutely terrible at loving myself. For the past year, I’ve been in Celebrate Recovery, digging into my life, heart, and mind, and putting myself in a posture for God to heal me. What I’ve discovered, over the last year, is that the person I have the most issues with, who has done the most harm to me is me. So learning to love me is quite the task, but is an important part of my healing.
I’m sure statements like these are alarming to some people, and I get it, they were alarming to me for the longest time. But I’m learning that loving myself isn’t a result of thinking that I’m the greatest, instead, it’s a result of knowing that Jesus loves me and calls me worthy. I don’t love me because I have high self-esteem but because he thinks highly of me. And, because he feels that way about me, I can respond accordingly.
As I continue to see myself the way that God sees me, I can love others where they’re at, instead of being consumed by my own negative view of self, which tends to be my default setting. When I love myself as Christ loves me, loving others becomes a natural byproduct. I’m coming to believe that when I love myself because Jesus sees me so highly, I become a more compassionate and loving person to everyone else.
The antidote to selfishness might not be selflessness, it might actually be self-love that is rooted in Christ, instead of ourselves.
What do you think about the concept of self-love?
How do you combat selfishness in your life?