When a new year begins, people spend a lot of time dwelling on things they want to change about themselves. But that’s not what should motivate us to improve. This year, I’d like to encourage you to consider a simple truth that makes a profound difference: God made humans to love and be loved. In fact, we’ll never be satisfied until we learn to express and receive affection. But we have another need—one that may seem counterintuitive: we need to have a healthy love for ourselves.
Jesus said, “‘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 foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39). What He meant is that a person’s love ought to reach in three directions—upward to God, outward to others, and inward to self.
A person’s love ought to reach in three directions—upward to God, outward to others, and inward to self.
You’d probably agree that loving God and others is important, but self-love? It’s often associated with pride and self-centeredness—and there’s plenty of both in our world. However, that’s not what Jesus meant. He was saying we should recognize and appreciate our worth. God created us in His image so we could have a relationship with Him. Furthermore, Christ died for us so we could be forgiven and reconciled to the Father. Since the Lord values us so highly, shouldn’t we love ourselves? I’m not talking about a boastful attitude, but a quiet peace that comes from knowing we’re deeply loved by our heavenly Father.
A healthy self-love is essential to wholeness. If it is missing or in some way incomplete, we can’t really love the Lord or others as we should. A nagging sense of unworthiness leaves us empty and prevents us from looking up to God in devotion and reaching out to others with affection. Then, instead of being given away as God intends, our love will be wasted in vain attempts to fill ourselves up. However, when we fully accept the Lord’s love for us, we’ll have a healthy appreciation for ourselves, an ever-growing passion for Him, and the ability to care for others.
This year, before trying to recreate yourself, consider that you were lovingly crafted by God. There may be things in your life that need to change, but He’ll provide the path for you to walk. All you have to do is follow Him in obedience.