Loving Yourself in a Godly Manner
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Deuteronomy 6: 1-9; Matthew 22: 34-40; Mark 12: 28 – 31
Sunday 7th December 2014
Over the past few weeks in the series 'Walking in Love' we have looked at love for God and love for each other. By way of recap of what we learned last week, we have been called to love one another just as Jesus loved us. The death of Jesus for our sins while we were sinners was not because we were perfect, good or righteous, but an act of sacrificial and unconditional love. God gave us the capacity to love because He first loved us and poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Love attracts the presence of God and therefore there is power, victory and peace to be found where love is.
Today, our focus shall be on loving ourselves. Self-love is very important. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus instructed us to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and mind, being the first and great commandment and also to love our neighbours as ourselves. This is echoed in Galatians 5:5 also. I have however very deliberately qualified the title of this message in order to ensure there is no misconception because there are different ways in which we can love ourselves: selfishly and self-centredly or in a Godly manner. When we love ourselves selfishly or self-centredly, the focus is on self as opposed to God. In 2 Timothy 3: 1-5, Paul identified self-centred and ungodly self-love as a feature of the last days. Self is not supposed to be our motivation; God must be the objective and ultimate end of our worship, our prayer, our giving and our service. God must be the end of it all. In Luke 9: 23-24 Jesus instructed us to deny ourselves if we wished to follow Him. God-centred love however puts God at the centre of all that we do, namely, we love ourselves in order to be all that God wants us to be. However, the truth remains that you cannot love your neighbour if you don't love yourself; self-love therefore is key to the ability to love others. When you receive the revelation of your uniqueness in Christ and come to the understanding of how God sees you in Christ, it becomes easier for you to appreciate how precious you are. The blood that was shed for you, the Holy Spirit Who was given to you, the inheritance that you have in Christ all confirm your preciousness and value to God. In order to love yourself, you must understand that God loves you and you must understand that in Christ, you are invaluably precious. You must understand that by grace you are redeemed, accepted in the beloved, adopted, you have inheritance in God and you have the Holy Spirit. Psalm 139: 14 says, I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.' In your innermost being, must know just how unique you are. Having laid this foundation therefore, let's look more closely at how we must love ourselves:
Firstly, we must understand that in Christ, you are worthy to be loved. In loving yourself, the first thing to establish within you is that God loves you. The grace of God has qualified you to be loved. In Matthew 10: 29-31, Jesus illustrated the importance that God places on our lives by way of comparison to the degree of attention He pays attention to the seemingly most insignificant of creatures, saying, "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. ..you are of more value than many sparrows." You must understand how God sees you and how valuable you are to God. God cares about everything that concerns you, including the insignificant things- He even numbered your hairs. Psalm 8 echoes the same truth posing the question, 'What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? 'God is mindful of you; His mind is full of you. He made you a little lower than Himself and He dwells on the inside of you. He has crowned you with glory and honour and has made you to have dominion over all the works of His hands. Your uniqueness features throughout the scriptures.
Notwithstanding the depth of God's love, the truth is that very few of us feel worthy of His love. We struggle to embrace all that God says about us because of certain factors:
We can often find ourselves letting our past operate as a barrier to accepting God's love for us. We see this in the account of the prophet Hosea's wife Gomer, an ex-prostitute whom eventually returned to the life of prostitution as she felt unworthy of the love that Hosea showed her. You cannot afford to lock yourself in the past, thinking you are not worthy due to your past experiences. God has washed your past away. 2 Corinthians 5: 17 says that if any man is in Christ he is a new creation; the old is no more and all things are made new.
Similarly, our pain can prevent us from accepting God's love for us. We see this in the account of Gideon in Judges 6: 13-16 who cried to God, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?" The pain of what he had seen the people of Israel go through had led him to conclude that God was no longer with them. Gideon did not feel worthy enough to receive God's love; His pain stood in the way of receiving God's love. Whatever you go through in life must never distort your understanding of how God sees you. Your circumstance is not a function of your worthiness; your worthiness is not a merited position. God counted you worthy before the foundation of the world. The account of Gideon further illustrates the truth that our background can often prevent us from accepting God's love for us as can be seen in Gideon's answer to God when told to go and stand up to the Midianite oppressors: "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." Maybe you don't see yourself as part of the ruling or wealthy elite; however, the truth is that you are worth more than any material possession. Your true value can only be measured by the price that was paid to redeem you, namely the blood of Jesus, God's dearly beloved Son!
Another potential barrier to receiving and accepting the love of God is in our self-image, how we see ourselves. In Exodus 4:10-17 Moses gave God what he considered to be the most compelling of reasons why he was the wrong person to be sent to Pharaoh, namely that he did not speak well to which God replied, "Who has made man's mouth?" You are not ordinary in whatever state you may be, you are created for God's glory.
It is important to love yourself how you are. There is no such thing as the perfect figure or the perfect physique. You should not be fooled by what you see on the television or cinema as a vision of physical perfection – you will be amazed at what makeup and air brushing can achieve! The truth is that you have been created in God's image and after God's likeness. God did not make a mistake with you. You are as tall, short, fat, thin, dark, fair, bald or otherwise as God wants you to be. God wants to reveal His glory through what you consider to be your disability or disadvantage.
Learn to say good things about yourself. Proverbs 18: 21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Your words have the ability to free you or imprison you. What you say about you says it all about you. Ecclesiastes 8: 4 says, 'The king has the last word" Whatever you believe about yourself comes to pass. It is important therefore to train yourself not to speak self-defeating and limiting words about yourself and instead, speak only life-filled words. Those who feel badly about themselves always, without fail treat others badly. Cain felt bad about himself and he killed his brother Abel. Those who attack and slander others and those who beat their wives, never see any good thing about themselves. Not loving yourself reduces your power to do what God has called you to do on the earth.
It is important that we are confident in our identity in Christ. This means rejoicing in whom God has made you to be. The absence of knowing who you are in Christ is the root cause of insecurity, frustrations, competitive jealousy, resentment, hatred, anger, violence, and all terrible negative emotions. After you have found your root in the love of God and you have come to accept who you are in Christ, it then becomes easy to love others as yourself. It takes a secure person that is walking in the love of God to show true love to others. Insecure people have nothing to give but anger, frustration, and resentment. You cannot give what you do not have. It is only when you are grounded and rooted in the love of Christ that you have the capacity to show other people the true love of God with pure motive and no conditions.
Finally, we must learn to celebrate ourselves. This means taking good care of yourself spiritually, mentally and physically. Avoid feeding your mind and spirit with junk but instead nurture your spirit with the word of God which will edify you and renew your mind. Look after your body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and do all that you can to avoid self-destructive habits such as drugs and excessive alcohol, which lead to behaviour which can only be regretted. Ladies, dressing in revealing clothing does not enhance your worth and allowing a man who is not your husband to sleep with you is nothing short of a violation of your value. You are worth so much more than that.
You are of such great value to the Lord and are precious in His sight. Once this truth has embedded itself within you, you can begin to love yourselves in a Godly manner and be all that God desires you to be.
Now Apply the Word HERE
Download the PDF of this message HERE
Weekly Uplift Archives HERE