Your Father God sees you far differently than you may see yourself. Sometimes I’m my own worst critic; aren’t you? At least I used to be until I learned that no matter how I view myself, my Father dearly loves me. Then He gave me a love for myself that quit believing all the lies Satan would tell me. I now recognize when I do wrong and admit it, apologizing to whomever I have hurt. I ask my loving Father to forgive me and know He has wiped my slate clean; therefore, I don’t have to carry that guilt any longer.
This love for myself is a respect for who I am and also Whose I am so that it desires good rather than evil. It doesn’t pick at my faults and enlarge them; others in this world will tend to do that for me, so that I don’t have to beat up on myself. Don’t beat up on yourself either! This love does not see me as better than anyone else; it’s not self-serving. It also doesn’t put others down to make me look better. No, I realize that whatever mistakes someone else has made I could have as well. Because I had godly parents, I was taught right from wrong at an early age. I have always been in church, hearing the Word of God that taught me how I should behave. These two factors definitely made a difference in the way I lived my life so that I did not face some of the temptations and trials others may. Those facts don’t make me better, simply different. I recognize how blessed I am by those two factors, but I didn’t do anything to deserve them.
Jesus told us five times in the Gospels to love our neighbor as ourselves; the letters to the different churches in the New Testament repeat this three times. How important this must be to our heavenly Father! One day I realized I could not love my neighbor if I did not love myself, and at that time I didn’t. While I didn’t hate myself, I often thought of my faults and short-comings more than any good qualities I had. This put-down and insufficient feeling then gave me a lack of confidence. While I didn’t want any harm to come my way, I didn’t always feel worthwhile. The realization that I needed to love myself made such a difference in my life that I then could love my neighbor. Now I realize that when I do something wrong, it doesn’t make me a “bad” person; no, simply someone who needs forgiveness, like we all do at times.
(Please notice that some people Satan has so consumed that they have become evil; I’m not including them. Those people weren’t born that way but they have been taught intentionally, or not, by unfortunate circumstances to be that way. We are not talking about this type person, rather the ones you and I hope to be or to have for a neighbor.)
Perhaps you have been in this very same hole. Yes, it is a huge hole because we simply don’t see the good God wants for us. Jeremiah 29:11 from The Message Bible* tells us, I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. In Hebrews 13:5 we are promised that God will never leave us or forsake us. Those are true words for you and me to depend on. That’s not saying that hard days don’t come to us all, but it is assuring us that God’s ultimate plans for us are better than any we could figure out and that He is with us in both the good and the bad circumstances. That’s something to stake our futures on! It’s something to get happy and shout about, to jump up and down about – just like we were at a football game and our team had just scored the winning touchdown.
Make a mental, or written, note that today you will start seeing yourself more like your loving heavenly Father sees you: His child that He loved so much that He sent Jesus to die for you so that you could become His child. Then you can experience for yourself all that tender and great love and learn to love Daddy God in return. You can learn to love yourself as well as your neighbor.
* THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.