I heard Pastor Hart Ramsey say something to this effect: “If you feel like your shortcomings make it hard to pray or worship, then you might have a works-based mentality.” Meaning, if the way we feel about our life or our actions negatively affects how we relate to God, perhaps our faith is rooted in our own performance.
It made me think… What DO we base our self-love on?
Do we base self-love on our accomplishments? Do we base it on our intelligence? How do we qualify ourselves for love? What makes us feel adequate?
Many of us push ourselves to succeed so that we feel justified to love who we are. Likewise, when we fail, we tend to struggle with depression and unworthiness. We sometimes tie our confidence to our own ability to do and achieve. Truth be told, so much hurt is born out of this way of thinking.
The Fruit of Works-Based Self-Love
When we work to earn self-love, we become overly competitive and envious which affects our relationships and how we look at other people. The Bible says love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39). If we don’t love ourselves, we cannot truly love anyone else.
Self-love should be based on who we are in Christ. We are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9-10). We were predestined to sonship (Ephesians 1:5). God decided before you were born that you were valuable to this world and His plan. Even before we did anything good or bad, God loved us.
This truth should be what drives our self-love. Instead, we have been trying to live up to all of these “checkboxes” in order to love ourselves. God wants us to know that we don’t have anything to prove to Him. Wrong motives will always frustrate our efforts.
Why is it such a challenge to accept our ugliness and thank God for His saving grace? It’s as if this makes us feel we’re rejecting ourselves. We’re not, team, we are rejecting the flesh! The part of our nature that inherited corruption at birth.
Sometimes it hurts so bad knowing that we don’t have the capacity to be “good” simply because we know to be good. It hurts knowing that we are unable to choose right without the wisdom of God. That our hearts are exceedingly wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We want to show the Lord we love Him, and we want to be able to change because we know we need to.
But, it is impossible without the cross. Jesus died so that we could live for Him by the power of the Holy Spirit – and that’s a good thing.
Apply God’s Love to Self-Love
The enemy has been working overtime to make us feel bad about needing God. It’s as if His goodness makes us feel so bad about our sins and weaknesses. This shouldn’t be the case.
The light of God is not intended to make us feel shame and condemnation. The light exposes the work of the enemy so that we can get rid of it and be sanctified for God’s use. The God of glory wants to get us back to our original state. He wants us to be reconciled to Him. Pride fights us in our mind to resent the truth that we aren’t good without Him.
So many people feel like they want to get things right before they pursue God – not knowing that they never will. We need to understand that we can love ourselves even in our mess, knowing that God has a plan to restore us. Salvation is the way we become who we truly are in God. It isn’t to make us feel inadequate or unworthy.
I think the way we get to this point of self-love is to fully accept the fact that we were created by a God who had a plan for us before we even knew enough to work for it. We are not our own (Jeremiah 10:23). That should not be painful to receive, but sometimes it is. It can be a hard pill to swallow knowing that you don’t belong to yourself.
A lot of us feel self-righteous in that we got saved and believe in God as if it was something great we did. In actuality, God chose you and you only love Him because He first loved you (1 John 4:19).
Team, let’s divorce pride and self-righteousness. Life can be so simple when we submit to the sovereignty of God whose pleasure it is to give you good things (Luke 12:32). Psalms 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
All of our peace and our success comes from our ability to truly rest in God and allow Him to take care of us.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Renounce the works-based mentality and receive the grace of God. Love yourself and allow God to change you – because you can’t do it without Him.
Remember we are not our own (Jeremiah 10:23). Don’t resent that! God created you with purpose, and you are valuable to His plan.
Rejecting the flesh and self-righteousness does not mean rejecting you. God, by the Holy Spirit, is restoring you to your true identity in Him.