Children are often taught that God will not be pleased with them if they are naughty. God becomes the weapon that parents use to force their children into obeying them and then the children build an unrealistic image of a God who is just waiting for them to put a foot wrong so that he can punish them. Unfortunately many people also feel this way because of the manner their earthly father’s treated them. If we are brought up with condemnation it is easy to believe that God is also going to condemn us when we do something that is not pleasing to Him. And if everything about our upbringing was performance based, we will believe that we have to perform correctly in order to win God’s love. Unfortunately some people never believe that God loves them regardless of what they do.
If we keep believing that we have to do things a certain way in order to please people, we are soon convinced that it is impossible. Instead of making peace with it, we try harder and harder and very soon are in a state of fear and fear because nothing we do is ever good enough. You see, there’s a difference between US and what we DO. Our DOING is not US. We can think things like, “I don’t deserve nice things because I’m too fat’, or, ‘I don’t deserve to go on holiday because I don’t work hard enough.
Everything that happens can then be put into two categories:
Things are going well therefore God is pleased with me.
Things are really bad therefore God is punishing me.
But God doesn’t operate like that. He is the only one who accepts us 100% the way we are. Where my husband might say that I need to wash the dishes more often, God doesn’t use things that we do as a measuring stick for His love. He loves us regardless of what we do.
The next step is self-hatred because instead of realizing the problem is not ours, we believe that it is us that are not good enough and not our actions. I know that self-hatred sounds really, really bad and if you were to hold it up against yourself you will say, who me? Never!
But think about it like this:
If you work for a boss who is really demanding and whatever you do he is never satisfied. He always complains and finds fault and never, never, ever compliments or acknowledges that you have done a good job. Sound familiar? This could also be a spouse, parent or child! Once you fall into the trap of trying to do better and win favour you start to believe you are not good enough. Believing you are not good enough is essentially self-hatred. It is said that 87% of all diseases are caused by our thought life, and many auto immune diseases are caused by self-hate! While I’m on the topic of disease, people blame God for their diseases or they claim that God put a disease on them to teach them some kind of a lesson. Forget it. It is simply not true!
So if hating ourselves is so bad, what should we do about it? We have to learn to love ourselves.
Let me establish that by loving yourself I am not implying selfishness, arrogance, being conceited, self-seeking, self-centred or vain. Those are never attributes of love anyway.
1 Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter.
Let’s look at what love looks like.
Verse 4 -8:
Love suffers long
and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself,
is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never fails.
We normally look at these verses in the light of how we show love to others. But what about looking at them and measuring ourselves against them?
Are we long suffering (patient) with ourselves, or do we beat ourselves up because we don’t get things right the first time. How many people haven’t reached their potential because they aren’t patient with themselves?
And kind. Are we kind to ourselves? Do we give ourselves any grace?
And what about ‘love keeps no record of wrongs, (NKJV thinks no evil), We forgive others for what they have done but to we forgive ourselves and forget the bad decisions we made? Do we lie awake at night and beat ourselves up about stupid things we did, and wish we could change the past. When we do something wrong the procedure is as follows: Ask God to forgive you, and immediately move on and learn from what you did. And drop it! Fill that void with love.
We can go down the list and I would encourage you to measure your self-love against this list.
Mark 12:31 as well as Matthew 22:39 both say that we have to love our neighbour as we love ourself. So Jesus said that we have to love ourselves.
If we don’t love ourselves we are going to be miserable and sick most of the time. We aren’t going to be pleasant to be around.
The first step towards loving ourselves is to accept ourselves. Nobody is perfect. That has been used over and over as a self-defence phrase. “”nobody’s perfect!!!!!”” But seriously, not one person is perfect or is ever going to be and the sooner we accept that the better. We need to start seeing ourselves the way God sees us.
We need to start accepting ourselves the way we are.
Now I know there are a lot of Christians who will condemn me for this statement because how can I be telling homosexuals to accept themselves the way they are. But think about this: If I accept myself and all my hang-ups, whether it is sexual orientation, alcoholism, anxiety, depression or whatever, I have a better chance of giving God the freedom to start working in my life than when I am struggling with whatever state I am in, trying to hide it, flaunt it, or fix it myself.
If I am trying to fix myself, God can’t do it, and that is what He does!
What happens when we become a believer.
and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
The new man includes your new victorious attitude. The new man has been created to be like God. If we have been renewed to be like God, How is God?
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
And what’s more, God uses weak instruments to accomplish great things:
Exodus 4:2, He used the staff in Moses’s hand to do great signs.
Judges 15:15, Sampson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey.
1 Samuel 17:40, David selected 5 smooth stones and killed a giant.
1 Kings 17:12, A widow showed compassion on Elijah and as a result her oil and flour lasted throughout the famine.
1 Kings 18:44, there was a cloud the size of a man’s hand that ended the drought.
Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus talks about faith the size of a mustard seed.
John 6:9, five barley loaves and two small fish feed 5000 people
And then one that we sometimes have a hard time coming to grips with:
Zechariah 4:10, For who has despised the day of small things?…
We don’t want small beginnings and insignificant things. We want loud thunder and torrents of rain. We want thousands of souls being won for the Kingdom. We want the big and the great and the significant. We don’t think that little things mean anything. We want to be able to measure our success and our victories. We don’t want to do something if it isn’t going to bring us a big profit.
But here it says we shouldn’t despise the day of small things.
That day we gave the cashier at the supermarket a smile. That day we helped change a tyre. You know that day? That day might have been the start of something bigger than you would ever know but what if you ignored it?
Because we are weak instruments God can use us greatly.
Romans 8:11, But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Colossians 3:1, If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Because I have been raised with Christ, I set my heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
A Jesuit, Bernard Bush wrote:
It takes a profound conversion to accept the belief that God is tender and loves us just as we are, not in spite of our sins and faults, but with them. God does not condone or sanction evil, but He does not withhold His love because there is evil in us. The key to this understanding is the way we feel about ourselves. We cannot even stand or accept love from another human being when we do not love ourselves, much less believe or accept that God possibly could.
God is not the father who comes home drunk and beats up his wife and terrorises his children. God is not the father who expects you to be seen and not heard and is the tyrant who has to be obeyed without question. God is not the father who measures your performance and always finds you lacking. God is also not the absent father who doesn’t care what you do.
This is who God is:
John 3:17, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Zephaniah 3:17, The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Who else feels about you the way God feels about you? Nobody! But you have to start feeling that way about yourself so that you can reflect God’s glory into the dark world.
If you are having feelings of guilt, anxiety or fear, those feeling are not a reflection of what God feels about you. The only time our feelings line up with God’s feelings is when we love ourselves intensely and freely. We should also not be measuring our virtue because in our own strength it is impossible to be good. People who are perfectionists are always measuring themselves, and others, to the ideal. There’s a huge canyon between the real and the ideal. Ideal is in their imaginations. Ideal and perfect does not exist!
The next thing to do is to turn the focus away from ourselves towards others. Focusing on our own problems and failures is not going to help. Neither is focusing on our own abilities and achievements. Achievements are like money. We will never have enough if that is our focus. Just like we will never be good enough if pleasing people is our focus.
We need to get rid of our baggage. The more baggage we drop the better we start loving ourselves. I
think that love fills the space that the emotional baggage was occupying. If we have to forgive, then we have to go and do it, we can’t cling to the past. Look at it this way: A balloon represents the past, we all have a varied past. Now if you pop the balloon it becomes useless. It loses its function. If you are going to keep dragging this balloon with you, you are going to get some strange looks. If fact you are going to look really stupid. That is like yesterday. Yesterday is gone, its usefulness has been spent. There’s only one good place for it and that is in the trash can. It has the ability to cause harm if it isn’t disposed of properly, just like the hurts from our past that will harm us if we don’t deal with them. Good memories are great. They’re like an inflated balloon bobbing on the breeze, but they’re just memories and good or bad, we can’t dwell on the past. We need to live in today and today this popped balloon has outstayed its welcome. So we get rid of it.
Just remember that God loves you and that Jesus died for you. If you are good enough for Jesus to die for you are good enough for people and you are certainly good enough for yourself!