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Next Steps – Day 12

Next Steps

A 30-DAY GUIDE FOR NEW BELIEVERS
by JOHN D. BECKETT
DAY 12 LOVING OURSELVES
Do I love myself?

Here is the “surprise” from yesterday’s lesson: the reference point for loving others is our love for ourselves. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”  (Matthew 22:39).

How should we love ourselves? Jesus’ concept of loving ourselves has nothing to do with the weary drone of today’s pop psychology — “feeling good about yourself” is all that counts. Marketers blatantly link “good feelings” with acquiring everything from pep pills to protruding biceps; fabulous manicures to monster TVs; fast cars to fantastic vacation getaways.

While “good feelings” may have a place (and I’m not on a crusade against things we acquire), more often than not, acquisitions and nonstop activity are escape mechanisms that will never fully satisfy. In fact, when we try all the “elixirs” and they fall short, we often get discouraged or depressed, the result of trying to fill our emptiness in the wrong ways. God’s provision transcends feelings and things. Our deepest needs are only and always fulfilled in Him. Centuries ago St. Augustine wrote, “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”

Now that you have come to Christ and “all things have become new,” the whole matter of your self-image gets a major makeover — and is the basis for your loving yourself. (Don’t worry, you can still wear cool clothes and gel your hair!)

Here are two keys to your new self-image.

Key #1: You can’t love yourself on the basis of your fallen human nature, no matter how much you beautify it, educate it or indulge it. You have to face the hard reality that apart from Christ, you are “nothing.” Peter, quoting the prophet Isaiah says: “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away” (1 Peter 1:24). In our honest moments we can identify with the Psalmist when he says, “But I am a worm” (Psalm 22:6).

Key #2: You love yourself on the basis of God’s love for you. First you have to see yourself as God sees you — as incredibly valuable to Him. He fashioned you after Himself (see Genesis 1:26). He knew you even before you were born (see Psalm 139:13-16). He loves you so much He gave Himself for you (see John 3:16). He created you to live together with Him in this life and in eternity (see 1 Thessalonians 5:10).

So how should you view yourself? You are one of God’s priceless children (for He paid dearly for you through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.) You are precious in His sight, filled with His Spirit, part of His body, commissioned to fulfill His grand design for your life, the object of His great love and affection. On this basis you can feed your soul and spirit with good things, take care of your body, discipline the unruly aspects of your life, enjoy fellowship with Him and others and apply your best energies in service to Him. Though you stumble, by His grace you will learn from your mistakes, be forgiven, and ultimately finish the race set before you (see 2 Timothy 4:7).

As one who is intensely loved by God, not from a puffed-up ego, you can love yourself and then “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Key Scripture Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you (set you apart) completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, Who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Key Thought I am of infinite worth because I belong to Christ.
 
Copyright © 2006 by John D. Beckett
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