Few would argue that the world is full of self-centered, self-loving individuals. Honestly, we all fall into that trap sometimes: “I want … ! And, I will have … !”
We live in a society that counsels us, “Love yourself!” Such self-love causes great damage, and is, in fact, deadly. Much of what passes for love in our world today is self-indulgence. We speak of love as a feeling that comes from being pleased. The reality of that definition is we love how we feel more than we love the other person—or the thing we enjoy. Learning to love ourselves with the love of God equips us to love others.
Divine love gives life. Only when we receive divine love, can we love unselfishly. In the classic book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis allowed the senior devil to share what that divine love looks like—and accomplishes:
“The Enemy (God) wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.”
Equal delight in others and oneself is what LOVE looks like. Love treasures the creativity of God. Love is not about how you make me feel, or what I want. Love has no fear, therefore, love is faith-filled. In
1 Thessalonians 5:8, we learn that the union of those two treasures, love and faith, create the Breastplate of Righteousness! That is the same Breastplate we find at the center of the Armor of Christ in
Ephesians 6. In Christ, all are loved and able to love!
Faith and love are absolute necessities for every Christian. Without faith we cannot please God. But without love, faith is useless. We cannot purchase faith and love; we cannot earn faith and love. They are gifts—eternal gifts—from our heavenly Father who is love! They come with a bonus: Hope. Earthly life is empty, lifeless, without these gifts of God.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13
When our hearts overflow with the love of God, we value all, including ourselves. As the old Ziggy cartoon said, “God don’t make junk.” Placing oneself in the love of God is to love yourself. Only when you love yourself in that way can you truly love others.
Is there someone in your life that you are not treasuring as a creation of God? Ask God to fill you with His love for that person—even if that person is you!