“You just need to love yourself for who you are.”
Have you ever been told that? Or maybe you’ve seen someone pin “You can’t love others until you love yourself,” or “Learn to love yourself,” or “Get comfortable in your own skin” scribbled in adorable fonts. We’re getting this vibe from every direction—from slogans on the front of T-shirts to your local Christian radio station.
Be true to yourself.
Live your truth.
These are nice-sounding mantras. As you read them, the first thought that might pass through your mind is, Yes! Finally I’ll be accepted and loved for what I truly am! I don’t have to try to measure up. It’s such a positive and popular message that it seems a little outrageous to question whether it’s true or not.
And then . . . you walk through the checkout line at the grocery store, and staring at you from the magazine rack is barely-clothed, tanned and air-brushed, apparently flawless outward beauty. An unreachable standard of worldly beauty. The same culture that says be-YOU-tiful is also giving us an insurmountable standard of what they call beauty.
Confused? You should be, because truth is, it’s confusing! The world is sending us mixed messages. Two ideas that completely oppose each other.
How about the Christian songs, books, and slogans that tell us to love ourselves? Is this a biblical-thinking pattern? What does God say about self love?
In 2 Timothy 3:2, Paul warns, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive” and the list goes on with the heartless, the ungrateful, the unholy, the treacherous, the lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—to name a few. Ouch! The “love yourself” motto is in the same category with heartless, ungrateful, and unholy.
What does this mean? Are we to hate who we are? Are we supposed to sit around listing off all the bad things about ourselves? Absolutely not! Insecurity can become an idol as dangerous and common as self love.
Let’s let David, the Psalmist, tell us his thoughts on this topic. In Psalm 22:6, David says, “I am a worm and not a man.”
Whoa, wait a second. That doesn’t sound like he’s loving himself. That’s because he’s not. David realizes that he is unlovable. In Psalm 16:2, he confesses that, “I have no good apart from [God].”
David didn’t buy into the idea of self-love. So where did he get his sense of worth, value, and acceptance? Let’s take a look at
Psalm 139:13–14. David writes, “For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
David didn’t love himself because he had so much to offer. He wasn’t trying to “accept himself” or get comfortable in his own skin. He knew his value, yes. And he knew his worth. He knew that God had created him with a purpose, for a purpose, to fulfill a purpose. And David didn’t need to tell himself how great he was, because he knew he wasn’t great in any way, but that God in him was great.
Worth vs. Worth in Christ
It is vital that we realize our worth in Christ. Believing the “self love” lies that are surrounding us is such an easy trap to fall into, but if we are constantly looking to our own self-esteem to find value, we’ll be drawing from an empty well. That momentary feeling of worth will end up being a farce.
There is no real peace when we accept ourselves. True peace only comes when we realize we can’t give ourselves value. Only in Christ can we find true worth and acceptance, and no matter how many times we look in the mirror and say, “You’re beautiful! ” or “You’re great just the way you are,” we will never feel fully accepted until we find our worth and value in Christ.
What do you think about the self-love message of the culture? Have you been tempted to accept it as true? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below!