Natural love for myself, constantly uses the “I” word – especially in disagreements. Natural love for myself says it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. Natural love made Eve make “I want” her priority to the detriment of all present and future relationships.
We now live in a fallen world, where the natural kind of love benefits no one. Agape love is the only kind of love that will produce true happiness because it is not centered on either self but on God.
OK I know how to naturally love myself (run, cover my face, crouch in protective stance if I anticipate attack, or worldly-wise speaking to buy and treat myself to anything that makes me feel or look good). But how do I Biblically love myself and love my neighbor the same way?
The how goes back to the beginning of the first commandment – First – run to God. When God accepts us He provides all we need for life and godliness.
There’s only one thing left to do:
3. Be a Risk-Taker – Let go and Let God!
1 John 4:16-19, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”
When I rely on anything but God’s love, I have been unable to truly love myself. I do not, at those times, care for myself physically, mentally or spiritually. I find none of the worldly advice works unless I’ve gone to God first. 1 Tim. 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This verse used to bother me, especially when quoted by a Christian friend I looked up to in spiritual matters, who used it as an excuse to not take care of her physical self.
But when I do take the risk of pain, embarrassment, failure. . . when I admit I cannot in any way be a miracle – or anything else for that matter, to anyone else on my own…that is when the miracles start to happen!
I’ve had many amazing things happen when God told me to bless someone else, and now God is working on me, telling me to be a risk taker and to love myself as He loved me.
1 John 3:16 spells it out: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Agape love toward self is NOT in conflict with I Corinthians 13, teaching that love is not selfish or narcissistic:
What does Agape love do?
- Does not envy/self-protect (satisfied with God’s plan for me, take a risk for God’s glory, even if I might come out looking foolish)
- Does not self-promote (remember to acknowledge what God has done, not look at what I did)
- Does not self-inflate (realize I am not the force behind God’s moments, merely the vessel)
- Does not self-glorify (do all to glorify God, not myself)
- is not self seeking (God’s way, not my way)
Naturally we tend to protect and care for ourselves, but spiritually, just as parents teach their children through sacrificial example and relationship, our ability to love our neighbors as or above ourselves (and to truly love ourselves as a temple of the living God) is an amazing spiritual miracle.
Do you feel free to apply God’s Agape love toward yourself today? I hope so – Jesus died for it, and you can rest on that.