Self-love is not just a catchy phrase that you see on Instagram and say “Aww” in response. It’s something that millions of people struggle with, including Christians. As a Christian, it’s important to understand how our faith intersects with this commonly misunderstood and often disregarded concept.
We must find our value in the eyes of God rather than in the opinions of others or our own perception of ourselves. Self-love can be an uncomfortable topic for Christians, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, when you understand why the Bible tells us we should love ourselves as well as others, it takes a lot of pressure off.
At its core, loving yourself as well as others are about placing your trust in God above all other things—including your appearance and worth as a human being. This article will walk you through what the Bible has to say about self-love so you can have confidence and peace about who you are!
What does the Bible say about loving yourself?
The Bible tells us that we must love God with our hearts, souls, minds, and our neighbours—even our enemies—as ourselves. In the New Testament, we are even commanded to love ourselves. It may seem paradoxical since we often think of loving ourselves as being self-absorbed or narcissistic, but the Bible actually tells us to take care of ourselves and love ourselves as we do others.
Remember that the Bible was written thousands of years ago, which was a vastly different time than our own. Sometimes, it’s important to unpack the metaphors and understandings of biblical concepts that are a bit more antiquated.
Why does the Bible say we should love ourselves?
The reason we should love ourselves is that we were created by God and are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in his image. The Apostle Paul writes, “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man in the earth?”. He is referring to you and me—we are princes and princesses!
God made each of us with a unique purpose, and we should respect that. It’s important to love ourselves enough that we don’t sell ourselves short and put others’ needs and desires above our own. Loving yourself will help you find your identity in God rather than in your job title or social media followers.
3 Ways loving yourself is actually a biblical value
- Self-acceptance –
There will always be people who will judge you or find you unworthy in some way. As Christians, we know that no one is worthy of being saved unless it is by the grace of God. So why do we sometimes put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perfect? Be kind to yourself with grace and forgiveness when you make mistakes. You are a work in progress—that’s what makes you human!
- Self-care –
Self-love doesn’t mean that you have to love and accept your flaws. It means you are responsible for taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you are constantly busy and burning out, you are neglecting yourself. Take care of your body by eating enough and getting enough sleep, and nurture your mind by reading, thinking deeply, and spending time in nature. You can better love and care for others when you are healthy and well.
- Self-discipline –
Part of loving yourself is having the discipline to do the things that will positively affect your life. For example, you may want to get more sleep to be more productive at work, or you may want to eat healthier to reduce the chance of getting diabetes. Self-love is the discipline to do what is in your best interest even when it’s hard.
Reasons you shouldn’t love yourself (but actually should)
While it sounds like loving yourself is all rainbows and unicorns, there is a fine line between healthy self-love and narcissism and selfishness. The Bible tells us that we should not boast or brag about ourselves and, in fact, we should have a healthy amount of shame and humility. So what does this mean? Don’t put your needs above those of others. Be responsible and respectful in your expectations of yourself and others. Be kind, but don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes.
Love yourself enough, to be honest with others. If you are dating someone who is abusive, for example, you are not loving yourself by staying in that situation. There is also a fine line between accepting yourself and having low expectations of yourself. You should be striving to be the best version of yourself you can be.
How to have healthy self-love as a Christian
- Practice gratitude. When you practice gratitude, you acknowledge the gifts in your life and the people who have helped you along the way. It can also be helpful to write down three things you are grateful for each day. This can be a great self-love practice.
- Be aware of your self-talk. Scrutinize the way you speak to yourself and challenge the way you talk to yourself. Try to catch yourself when you are being overly critical, shaming, or putting yourself down. Rewrite your thoughts with grace and understanding and choose to affirm yourself and celebrate who you are.
- Nurture your spiritual relationship with God. God wants us to be in a healthy relationship with him that is loving, safe, and comfortable. When you nurture this relationship, you will find that it is easier to love yourself because you will know that you are loved, accepted, and cherished by God no matter what!
Self-love is a concept that is often misunderstood and treated as a buzzword. It doesn’t have to be like that though. When you understand how important it is to love yourself as well as others, it can be a really beautiful thing. Self-love is not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic; it’s about being humble enough to love yourself for who you are and know that you are worthy of love and attention.