Loving yourself is not selfish. Authentically loving yourself requires as much humility as the willingness to see yourself the way God sees you, as well as the awareness of what that kind of Godly love represents—and its Source.
Much of the world tends to lean in the opposite direction, capitalizing on the notion that loving yourself should be the most important above everything else— in the same mentality as those who are under the illusion that binge-eating is a viable anecdote for emotional pain: they have neither the humility nor the intuition to realize the void they’re trying to fill is not actually physical— nor the discernment of what is healthy, and what isn’t.
Let me ask you, readers–what about the notion of loving others makes any difference to you? Many times we find ourselves loving someone who seems unable to reciprocate for some reason. Some people are simply too selfish or too disappointed in themselves to receive anyone else’s love for them. In a world where love can seem scarce, obscured, protected, and withdrawn; where love is underrated and confused with infatuation— Jesus’ unconditional love for you is the only reason you exist. Therefore, when we are able to receive Jesus’ love, the overwhelming truth of that reality stirs in us the ability to love others through Christ. God’s love, the greatest gift of all—engenders radical joy because the one thing we actually need in life, we are given freely; without consequence, loan, or “I owe you.” That is the nature of being in relationship with Jesus Christ.
For the believer, Jesus is the “living water” from which we will never thirst again. Now, that is a metaphor here on Earth–true–but do you understand the meaning behind it? Jesus is saying that being in relationship with Him will satisfy you to the point where you will be overflowing–meaning— you will have more than enough to be okay with yourself and give to others. Give what? Love.
The “food” (or love) in this lifetime is not what goes in our stomaches, but what comes from our hearts:
(Matthew 15:17-18) “Do you not realize that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then is eliminated? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man.”
We love others with our actions and our words. What we choose to speak or do with others comes from that place where we either have Jesus in our hearts, or we don’t. If we don’t, then we are giving love of our own accord, and the love we extend of our own accord suffers from the conditional, limited influences of living in a corrupted world. But Jesus’ love never tires. He lives in us through the Holy Spirit, meaning— He communicates with us through the Holy Spirit, and we learn to listen by spending time with God; reading the Word (Bible), praying with other believers, and quieting ourselves. Without this time, we further ourselves from our ability to know Jesus’ voice from our mind’s voice, and from that of the world and all its noise.
After we spend time listening to Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit talk through us and to us, we are better able to receive the courage, inspiration, love, hope, mercy, grace, forgiveness, peace of mind, and inner balance which is only possible through our relationship with Him, as well as the ability to share these qualities and gifts with others through our words and actions.
When we choose not to spend time with Jesus, not only to do we jeopardize our own connection to the God of creation, leaving it on the back-burner as if it is less important than anything else—we also jeopardize others experiencing Jesus through us.
How can we blame God for not talking if we don’t give Him the time to speak? How can we justify giving God enough time when we spent mere seconds to minutes listening, and we spend hours on end using technology and pursuing selfish pleasures? At the end of the day, we expect God to just fit in with the rest of our lives; but God refuses to just fit in. He is either our Alpha and Omega (first and last), or He’s not. Is God patient? Yes, but that doesn’t make Him gullible. Waiting on us when we take longer to hear Him than He does to speak is different from justifying ourselves with distractions while leaving Him jealous of the attention we give our Earthly idols (hedonism, technology, drugs, alcohol, etc.).
Those of us who are starving to experience Jesus more personally are left to starve longer when we assume our most important goal is to love ourselves more than anything. No matter what religion you belong to, if you only believe in loving yourself, and you are holding out on those who need your familial love, then you are starving them of connection; you are starving them of Jesus. Jesus told us we show we are His disciples when we love others, and He didn’t forget to leave us a plethora of examples to reflect on and refer back to. His entire ministry was saturated in love. Even His anger came from love! His repudiation of the pharisees was not out of hate for them, but out of the agonizing truth that despite His love for them, they would not receive Him, believe in Him, nor recognize the ways their piousness convoluted the truth of the message of Jesus’ love, dissuading the people who sought freedom from religious piousness and stricture; liberation to love and to truly live. Jesus provided this liberation, and told us that in order to be recognized by the world as His, we must love each other (John 13:35).
Do you live your life selflessly, in pursuit of Christ’s love for you and others? If you are an unbeliever, what inspires you to love others—and what does love mean to you? What is your hope for the purpose of living tomorrow? Do you believe there is such a hope without faith?
If you are not living in the love of Christ, then your love is situational and conditional. Do you know how to love those who want to harm you, and do you understand what the importance is of doing such a thing? Jesus’ very life is the example and reason for why Christ-followers do this. If you are not following His ways, what reason do you have to try to be selfless or more loving? What does it matter to you, if not for God?
Faithlessness is a quick way to jeopardize a most satisfying life. If you think about it, consider the impact you have on others who feel the ricochet of your joylessness—directly a ramification of disbelief; but consider what that means about discovering faith in Christ. Acknowledging how deeply rooted our words are, and how our actions jeopardize others’ way of seeing Jesus through us is a truth which is equally relevant as it is pervasively ignored. We cannot commiserate and love a world without a living example of the reason why. Humanity needs a reason to be selfless, in order that we might understand the true nature of what our relationship with God could be. Jesus is that reason, and whether or not we believe in Him or follow Him, our choices will show the world, one way or another. We walk by strangers without so much as a smile without bothering to think of what it might be like where they’re going. We’re just absent-mindedly desperate to get where we’re going to appease ourselves. What example are we setting by this prideful walk of faithlessness? We desperately search for something to feel loved by, all the while assuming there is no God—dismissing the notion of one when we aren’t patient enough to develop our awareness of His voice in our hearts. Is the problem really that God doesn’t exist and is therefore silent; or is it that we don’t take the time to surrender ourselves to His infinite gift of love? We may put God on mute, but He’s still talking.
Will we learn to listen?