By Heather Templeton
“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
Ok, ladies. I’m about to ruffle some feathers.
Now don’t be alarmed, I promise to play nice.
But something has been nagging at my heart for months now, and it’s high time I stop trying to push it down, and address it for what it is.
God is love.
This is 100% true.
But this article is not completely about that.
At least, not on the surface.
This article is about SELF–LOVE.
Self–love. It’s a huge fad these days.
We’ve all seen the posts and the blogs and the memes about how we can’t truly love others if we don’t love ourselves first.
How if we want to be there for others, we need to put ourselves and our needs first.
THEN we can help others, and help them more effectively.
Friends, this mentality is NOT biblical.
This is a worldview that too many Christians have bandwagoned onto, and it’s growing at an alarming rate.
I came across an article on Pinterest the other day:
“31 Days of Self-Love.”
An entire month.
Completely devoted to how you can love yourself, take care of yourself, and esteem yourself.
It encouraged its readers to make daily lists of things they deserve, goals they want to achieve, negative thinking they want to banish, and general changes they should make to increase their personal happiness.
I’ve heard it said that “to love your neighbor as yourself”, you must first, obviously, love yourself.
But allow me a different perspective…
No one needs to be taught how to love themselves.
We all come well equipped in our sinful nature, before Christ, to set ourselves up on the throne of our own lives.
I think it’s the very fact that we aren’t as perfect as we mentally think we could and should be that causes this rift in our outward confidence, if you will.
We look in the mirror and unhappiness takes over when we aren’t as thin or as pretty as we feel we could be with a little more effort.
We see our jobs as mundane and long for something more glamorous that we could definitely achieve with the right focus and drive.
Now. Before you get after me, let me set a few parameters for my thought process.
This is in no way saying that goals are bad, positive thinking is bad, or happiness is bad.
It is wonderful to take care of ourselves, and the Bible does instruct this. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, and I believe we ought to care for ourselves as such.
But taking care of ourselves and self love are two completely different things.
Obviously, we all wish to be happy.
But happiness is fleeting.
It is completely dictated and determined by circumstances, and circumstances can be largely out of our control at times and change with the wind. When that change inevitably comes, our happiness bubble is shattered.
We fall prey to “negative” thoughts, and are once again encouraged to look inward to find self-love, self-fulfillment and self-peace.
I will let you in on a secret: it will never be found.
It will come and go, ebb and fall.
But it will not be a steadfast constant.
Because it is centered around self.
The Bible gives us a very anti-world view of how we can truly be filled with joy.
Matthew 16:24 states that, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 20:26 goes on to to say, “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”
He set the ultimate example of putting others before Himself by going to the cross and taking the punishment for all the world’s sins on himself.
He denied himself so we could be free.
He loved us with His life so we could love others and show them to Jesus.
He is true and lasting love, and we will only be whole when we lose ourself completely in Him.
In this world, we will not always feel love.
We will not always experience fulfillment.
We will have days when we are sad, broken, and lost.
Take up your cross.
He is the way, the truth, and the LIFE.
And in Him, there is no darkness. His perfect love casts out fear. If we truly believe that, we will live it every day.
Our sadness will turn to joy and dancing because He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Our broken hearts will be mended because he binds up our wounds.
Our sense of loss will vanish when we realize He left the ninety-nine to come find ME.
To come find you.
YOU are worth everything to Him.
So stop settling for self-love.
It will never fulfill you. It will never FILL you.
Run into the perfect arms of Jesus.
His love sets the prisoner free.
His love is perfect.
And it is all we will ever need.