The concept of self-love in a biblical sense is a tough one. God wants more for us than for our thoughts to be consumed with picking apart parts of ourselves that we are insecure about- we were created perfectly by God. It pains Him to see you so insecure about yourself. But on the other hand, God does not want our thoughts to turn selfish and for our hearts to be haughty. So how do you really love yourself as a Christian?
It’s all about balance, really. Scripture doesn’t tell us directly to love ourselves because it is expected that self-love would come naturally. I guess the Prophets never anticipated there would be Candice Swanepoels, Gigi Hadid’s and Instagram models walking around in the world today to make you feel bad about yourself. But what that does tell us is that it is expected that we should need to love ourselves to be fully human. And you do. Nourish, cherish and love your body and your soul. God made it, after all, and He made it in His image. He designed you and carved you out and made you perfect just the way you are, and He loves you for it.
Honestly, that’s the only opinion that truly matters. If you spend your time obsessing over stretch marks and freckles and acne and spend your time contouring your face and coordinating your outfits perfectly, are you spending enough time worshipping God? Or have you turned to an idol, the idol of beauty and fitting in?
It’s only natural to fall into the traps of beauty standards in today’s world. As I sit here writing this article, I’m guilty of it, too. My skin is sprayed tanned and I paid way too much money for the acrylic nails that I’m typing with. But back to that balance thing I talked about- I’m also sitting here with my curly bed head and no makeup on, and despite being slender my stomach is rolling slightly over my shorts. I could obsess over that. But I choose not to. I’ll work out later not because I’m paranoid about my abs not being flat enough, but because God wants us to nourish and care for our bodies.
I’ll do it to feel good. To love me. Not because I’ve made my body my idol. Self-love is freedom from negative thoughts about yourself, guilt, and insecurities that hold you back. The more you look inwardly and love and care for yourself, the better you can love others, and God. As long as you have any discontent with yourself, you are unable to devote yourself to God and serving other people. The famous verse from Mark says “love your neighbor as yourself.”
While traditionally used to remind us to be selfless and love others no matter who you are, it can also be used to remind us to love ourselves and treat ourselves the way we would a friend.
The biggest lesson of Christianity is to love- love everyone, including yourself. God doesn’t want us to be proud or arrogant in the same way He does not want us to be self-criticizing. It’s equally as harmful.
Self-awareness and self-love go hand in hand. Know exactly who you are, and come to God with your faults and your sins in your hands and ask for forgiveness and help in putting them aside and becoming better. See yourself as God sees you- imperfect, because we’re only human and so easily fall into sin, but as forgiven souls washed clean by the Lord and loved by the Lord. You don’t need validation from the world that you are a beautiful and amazing being. God already knows you are, and He loves you so much for it.
To close, I leave you with these words from Psalm 139: “I will give thanks to You because I have been so amazingly and wonderfully made.” A successful faith life starts with self-love.