love your neighbor AS YOURSELF. Luke 10:27
As I was leaving the auditorium after the concert, I noticed a small pile of assorted items near the doorway. This was obviously a grabpile free for the taking. So I set down my purse and went rummaging through the pile. I snatched up some necklaces and placed them near my purse. Then I went back to gather up a few more things... then more
and more. The display of items seemed to grow larger as I gathered. It spread so wide that it soon looked more like a gigantic yard sale. As I furiously gathered up my stock, thoughts came to my mind like these: I really dont need this! I already have that! Thats not really so pretty. I had a faint sense of others nearby who were also hording things. Yet I could not dislodge myself from my mission long enough to look at them. Finally, when I felt amply supplied, I went to retrieve my purse. But alas, I could not find it! I looked and looked through the mountain of stuff I had gathered until I realized that it was obviously gone. Horrors!
Then I awoke. It was a dream, and I quickly realized that this was a useful illustration for my study on the topic of loving ourselves. Loving ourselves is important to God. We know this because it is part of the Great Commandment which is repeated several times in scripture. Yet many Christians see love for oneself as selfish.
There is a vast difference between selfishness and appropriate self love, that is, true care for oneself. My dream depicted selfishness rather than a true love for myself. You can easily see the addictive obsession, insatiable craving, lack of self-control, and the inability to notice others or even care about them. This is narcissistic self-absorption. We could call it self-hate, because this pattern of behavior is ultimately destructive.
Did you notice what was lost in this dream? It was my purse - most significantly the items in it, like the proofs of identification. I lost everything that was important as related to my temporal identity. I had essentially abandoned my identity, my place in the world, and my means of fulfilling my life responsibilities. You could say: I despised it, and sold it all for a few necklaces and things.
You may recall how the bible character, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. In doing so he abandoned his position as the family patriarch, his inheritance, and all Gods promises for himself and his descendents. He despised his very God-given identity. In essence, he hated himself and rejected Gods love for him. He defied the greatest commandment by failing to love himself.
Loving yourself for who you are in Christ is an act of faith. It is to gratefully accept your birthright and to enjoy the many privileges associated with this relationship with God. To love yourself is to honour your God-given destiny by walking in it and trusting God for your provision, your protection, and your life purpose. In this way you let God love you fully and unreservedly.
Why not open your hands to him and by faith receive his love - willingly and humbly?