Summary: This sermon from the Greatest Commandment passage seeks to help those with a low self-esteem to learn to love themselves on the basis of the truth of God’s Word and God’s Love.
There’s a song by John Stallings that reminds me of the message this morning. It speaks about the bottom line principle that will enable you to love yourself. The song is entitled, “Learning To Lean.”
The greatest commandment passage has within it the most posing challenge for you and for me; the lesson of learning to love ourselves. The implication is clear there, that before you can love others you must have a healthy sense of self love. If you don’t love yourself and accept yourself for how you have been created, then there’s little hope that you will love and trust your Creator – let alone be able to unconditionally love and accept anyone else.
If you could just come to the place of loving self-acceptance; your life of faith, love for God and love for others would be so much more powerful and effective. However, we live in a generation when there’s more inferiority, lower self-esteem, less love for oneself and seemingly no respect for other human life than at any time in history. Parents haven’t nurtured, instilled nor unconditionally loved their offspring like God designed. And the main reason is they themselves haven’t learned to love and value themselves! So, let’s look first at:
I. THE CHALLENGE OF LOVING YOURSELF
There are two parts to this challenge of loving yourself as I see it.
1. Balancing the truth that we know about ourselves.
That is, balancing the truth that the Bible tells us about ourselves. Like Genesis 1:27 which says we’re created in the image of God. But then, Jeremiah 17:29 records, “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it?” Another balancing of the truth comes when David writes in Psalm 139:14 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But then Paul reminds us in Romans 7:18 that, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my flesh.” Of course in our own life experience we sense the challenge of balancing the truth that we know about ourselves as we know our limitations, yet have unlimited potential. The second part to this challenge of loving ourselves as I see it is:
2. Comparing ourselves with what we see in others.
God has created every one of us with ten unchangeables in our lives: Parents, gender physical features, mental capacity, race or nationality, birth order, siblings, time in history, aging and death. Whenever you compare one of these unchangeables with another person or other people, you are tempted and tend to develop feelings of inferiority and it challenges your self-acceptance. After all, Satan hates your body, it’s in the image of God. It’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. But because you’re a member of the Body of Christ you’re able to take and make the members of your body weapons against him! So suffice it to say that you have a challenge of loving yourself on your hands! Secondly, in learning to love yourself lets look at:
II. THE CAUSE FOR LOVING YOURSELF
There are reasons that you have for loving yourself, so let me give you at least three of these. First of all,
1. God Created Everyone. He is the creator and designer of each individual. In fact, God prescribed us before birth. The Bible says before we were born, God wrote down all the details of our lives. Psalm 139:16 says it this way, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
2. God Loves Everyone. John 3:16 makes it no clearer. God loves you unconditionally and wants to give you a full and meaningful life. He wants to give you His Eternal Life. He wants to forgive, redeem and remake you acceptable. As a matter of fact, He’s not finished with you yet if you have accepted Him. Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “He who has begun a good work in you will carry it on unto the day of completion.” God loves you and He hasn’t given up on you. He’s at work in you right now to will and to do of His good pleasure as Paul goes on to say in Philippians 2:13. Let me personalize these two reasons into a third cause.
3. God Loves you and Created you! And I’m here to tell you, God don’t make no junk! God loves you and sent His Son who knew no sin to become sin for you that you may be made the righteousness of God in Him. So, if you are “in Him” that is “in Christ” you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and you have received the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). So don’t question your creator, your designer as Moses did in Exodus 4:10-11 or ass the Prophet warned in Isaiah 45:9-10. Your outward appearance is only the “frame” of the picture that God wants to develop within your life. Folk, you have cause for loving yourself! Therefore, let me conclude with: