In the faith community these days, there is a whole bunch of talk about loving others. And that’s a fantastic thing to talk about! However, there is a shorter step that we must climb first. To many, the step is almost taboo. The idea of loving oneself can seem selfish or even sinful. In actuality, it is neither sinful nor selfish. It is good, and it is necessary.
Should we love ourselves?
Love is good, right?
Well, that pretty much answers the question then. We should love ourselves.
Scripture doesn’t say, “You shall love your neighbor.” It says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
We’re taught not to have pride and to be humble. Many people think this means to not love yourself, but the reality is that love is 100% good. Because of this, it cannot present characteristics such as pride and lack of humility. Pride and lack of humility come from a lack of love.
Speaking of characteristics, let’s take a look at the characteristics of love famously written by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
This writing is often used as a guide on how we should love others, but it is also the way we should love ourselves. In Christ, we are one body. Therefore, by loving ourselves, we naturally love others. Loving ourselves lets us experience the power of both giving and receiving love first hand. It opens us up to love. It strengthens us in our ability to give love, and to receive love from others.
Paul gives these characteristics of love, but many of them may seem out of reach or difficult to achieve. That short paragraph contains a ton of requirements. It provides an address for a location, but it doesn’t offer much of a map. That’s what I’m here for – and hopefully the Holy Spirit is working through me!
It is overwhelming to try and achieve all of the characteristics of love at once. Instead, I’m going to give you two super simple (and even fun) steps that will send you soaring in the right direction. After a couple months of adhering to these steps, you’ll see major positive changes in your life. You’ll find strength, confidence and happiness. You’ll also have a deeper understanding of the joys of loving others. You’ll give love not only because God commands it, but also because you’ll have risen a deep desire to do so!