It’s okay to love yourself … God does

I am my own worst critic, and I’m ruthless about it. I always have been. I can’t believe some of the horrible things I’ve said to myself, terrible, hurting things I wouldn’t say to any other person. But I don’t hesitate to say it about myself.

On one hand, being self-critical is good. You should always be open and aware of how you can improve yourself or how you can do a job better, but when it crosses the line from constructive criticism to general bashing, you need to stop. It’s not helpful. And it’s not true.

It’s okay to love yourself, you know. I think we take that concept out of context too many times. The Bible talks about loving others as we love ourselves, which means obviously we are supposed to love ourselves. But if I treated others the way I treat me? Whew, that would be brutal.

But where do you draw the line between loving yourself and loving yourself too much? Maybe the problem is that we don’t really understand love from God’s point of view.

sunset-hands-love-womanToday’s verses are 1 John 4:16-18.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

God’s love is unconditional. That’s really difficult to wrap my brain around, because I’m a performance-driven perfectionist. In my brain, if I work hard enough, that means that God will love me more. But unconditional love has no conditions. That means it doesn’t matter how hard or how little I work. God loves me the same.

Can we even grasp that kind of love? I’m not sure I can. But if that’s the case and there’s nothing I can do to make God love me more or less, why am I so hard on myself? Why do I beat myself up all the time and focus on every failure and cling to every disappointing decision I’ve made?

Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s being self-focused.

There’s a part of me that fears what God will say to me when we meet face to face. I’m afraid that He’ll point out to me all the times I could have done more, all the opportunities He gave me that I ignored, all the things I should have done and didn’t. But if we’re afraid, that means we’re not living in God’s love.

What does it mean to live in God’s love? It means that you aren’t scared. Not that you’re fearless (although you probably can be). Everyone still has things they’re scared of–the dark, clowns, angel statues (Don’t Blink!), but being scared of something is different than living in fear. When you live in fear, your whole life revolves around what you have to do to make God happy with you. All you can think about is how you need to perform because you’ve got to make God love you.

Here’s the news, friends. God already loves you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. So just deal with that right now.

And because God loves us, we can live confidently, unafraid of what might be ahead of us. That means tearing yourself up for your past mistakes is a waste of time. That means focusing on the things you did wrong yesterday won’t accomplish anything.

God doesn’t make mistakes. Not ever. And if He loves you, don’t you think you ought to love you? Maybe just a little bit?

You don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. You’ve already got it. So stop living your life to impress Him and start living His love so that others can experience it.