There are many books, CDs, tapes, DVDs, and no shortage of articles written encouraging people to love themselves. There is no shortage of teaching on building self-esteem, promoting self-respect, or elevating self-worth.

The saints of God seem to be riding this wave. Many waves end by crashing against jagged rocks. This doctrine can lead to the same result in the lives of people. God has ideas in His word about what it means to love oneself.

Loving oneself natural

Paul said, “no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it … “ (Ephesians 5:29 New International Version) Man gets thirsty; he finds something to drink. Man gets hungry; he finds something to eat. Man is born with the nature, the drive to get what he needs or wants. Or, at least, what he thinks he needs or wants.

These are natural instincts. As man matures, he further shows his love for himself by following his own desires and going his own way. He sets his own standards of what is right or best or he chooses to adopt the standards or ideals of others as his own. Is not this loving one’s self? When we look after or promote our own wellbeing that is self-love.

For many, self-love is based on the exterior — the appeal of the eye. The view what the world sees determines the feelings, attitudes and self-worth. This is unproductive. The world’s high is shallow and destructive. It focuses on excess, self-exaltation, self-aggrandizement, which promotes pride — which God hates. (Proverbs 13:8) It gives the allusion that you are in control. However, the opinions and views of others, generally, drive your decision making.

For many, loving me is about — new clothes, new hair do’s, new cars, or other toys and pleasures. New clothes become old fads, new hair do’s grow to be boring, new cars are just new debts, and new toys and pleasures are just ways to drain away time, money and energy. The emotional high from these things many times give way to a roller coaster ride of addiction, anxiety and depression. It promotes the “I.” The “I” is the first letter of idolatry. You become the object of your own worship.

God calls us to higher standards

God calls us to recognize that that He, alone, is God. (Exodus 20:3)

Though perfect in every way, He extends an invitation for us to come to Him as we are. (Matthew 11:28, Revelations 22:17)

n He calls those who love Him to honor Him by submitting to His glory, His Lordship, His leading. (John 4:24, 14:15; Gal. 5:16)

God calls His people to recognize that truly loving yourself is surrendering all you have and are to Him. (Luke 9:23 Amplified — And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself (disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself) and take up his cross daily and follow Me (cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also).

Jesus is the believer’s Savior, Lord and standard. Have you ever thought about how He loved Himself? He did just what He now calls us to do. He loved upward and outward. He loved His Father first and most. He laid down His life to glorify His Father. His deep love for His Father was evidenced by His submission to His Father’s will — death on the cross.

He loved you and I. “No one has greater love (no one has shown stronger affection) than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. (John 15:13 Amplified) He went out on Calvary’s cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He died and God raised Him from the grave in three days. His idea of loving Himself was to love others and put their concerns first.

Recognize that you are special. God created us in His image and likeness. He thought enough of us that He sent His Son to die so that we could live. The most important thing that you can do for yourself is respond to God’s love by accepting His gift of grace — salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Truly loving yourself is to live each day by the faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

The Rev. Larry D. Reed Sr. is pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, 1012 26th Ave. You can contact him at

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