i Love Myself?
The other day I was listening to some music (this is a common thing for humans to do). The song that was playing was titled “i” by Kendrick Lamar (that’s right, a “secular” song). There multiple messages of this song that are very interesting, but the one that caught me was the idea of loving yourself.
I think that this is a tricky thing to grab for many Christians because Christ and His ministry (Christianity in general) is so focused on others and humbling oneself in order to serve. The idea of loving oneself seems so selfish and overly focused on your own needs. This is not just Christianity, in sports and any group activity their is an expectation of selflessness. As they say, there is no I in team. Why would I be so selfish as to love myself?
Let me first say that I do not really disagree with any of those points. As we all know, we live in a self-obsessed generation that is all about personal gratification. No I think, we have an issue understanding what it means to love yourself in a healthy fashion, and I don’t think we realize how essential it is to have that type understanding.
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
This concept is a familiar one not just in America, but around the world. When it is not associated with Christianity, it is called the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. However from that perspective it seems to approach self-love as a given. It appears to illicit that humanity is going to care about itself, and it would be nice to give that care to others as well. That’s not a terrible message for people to live by, but it still does not address what a healthy self-love is.
As was first stated in the set of verses, the greatest commandment is to love God with everything that you have. To the Lord is where you focus your gaze, your goals, and grasp. That relationship with the Lord is where the transformation of the heart occurs. That is the first love of those who follow the Lord. Followed by that though, is to love others the way you love yourself. But what separates this idea from the world’s Golden Rule?
As with everything in the life of a follower, it related back to the relationship with the Lord. To love yourself means to acknowledge the fact that God made you with purpose and beauty in mind. It means that He created you with intent to do great things in His Kingdom through you. It means that you are putting trust and betting your life in Him, and not the things of this world. It means that you are focused on learning and growing in your true self, not feeding into your perception of what your earthly self could look like with fame or money or other vice. It means that God made you with love, and consequently, that you would love what He made in you.
“But what love got to do with it when you don’t love yourself?”
That is another line from Kendrick Lamar (sorry to fanboy) in his song “Real”. In that line he really hits the nail on the head with what is wrong with so many of us (myself included) in today’s world. For one thing (as the song touched on before) we put so much of our effort into attaining the things that we think will make us happy. These are things like money, relationships, fame, respect, acceptance, anything that comes into play in our pursuit of happiness. We chase these things out of selfish ambition to bolster this image we think we can potentially achieve. It is really just a projection of what we think will lead to satisfaction and create our own little paradise on earth.
These things are what we put our hope in, and everyone realizes at one point or another that these are just vices we seek to cover the fact that we are broken and out of luck on our own. Consequently, so many of us have put this effort and “love” into these projections of ourselves, and have never actually learned to love our true selves. And if we haven’t even figured out how to love ourselves, how can we love others and appreciate their true selves? How can we show a Spirit filled love when we can’t even find it in ourselves? How are you not supposed to look at others with a jealous heart when your only understanding of importance is based on the petty things that your culture espouses? How can you serve God when you are a slave to something insignificant?
Additionally, if you don’t love yourself, how can you believe that God could work through you? If you don’t believe that God could do a marvelous work in and through your life, why would you accept His call when He gives it to you? The recognition that the Creator of the universe loves you in an unconditional fashion and believes you are important is the basis for loving yourself in a healthy way. In order to serve the Lord, you need to acknowledge the fact that you are a meaningful individual who God created for a purpose.
Love does not necessarily equate to adoration or worship. That type of love is reserved for God alone. But love for yourself and others has to mean respect, and recognition of each human’s eternal importance to Christ and His Kingdom.
That’s all I have for today. Hope that I’m not crazy.