What Jesus Said about Self Love

June 10, 2012

This is week five of our “What Jesus Said About Emotions”
series. And emotions are a part of each one of us.  God created us as emotional beings, within
the first three chapters of the story we watch the first couple as they
experience loneliness, joy, love, envy, fear and shame. 
And we are all to some degree emotional people, some more so
and others to a lesser degree but we all feel and experience emotions.  Or at least we are supposed to.  And so when I started the series the first of
May there were probably weren’t any surprises. 
And the first four messages were pretty easy to figure out.  Week one was “What Jesus said About Love”,
week two was “What Jesus Said About Hate”, week three was “What Jesus Said
About Fear” and then last week we looked at “What Jesus Said About Joy”.  And those were easy, you knew what was coming.  We should love, we should be happy and we
ought to avoid hating people and feeling afraid.   No big surprises there.  Those of you who grab the note taking guides
off the information table could have probably filled in the blanks
yourself. 
Next week we are making a shift, we are going to start our
Series on “What Jesus said About Himself”, and through the summer we are going
to look at all the “I Am” statements that Jesus made, you know: “I am the
vine”, “I am the Light of the World”, “I am the Bread of Life”  etc. etc.
But this is the last week of our series on emotions.  I thought about preaching on envy, worry or depression
and any one of those would have been good topics, relevant subjects.  And to a certain degree we have touched on
those a little bit in the first four messages. 
When I spoke about anger I mentioned that we often became angry because
of envy, we become angry because others have what we don’t have.  When I spoke about fear we touched on worry,
and how that eventually produces fear and last week I spoke about Joy and to a
certain degree the flip side of that is depression. 
So where are we going
today?  Today I want to focus on “How you
feel about yourself” and so this morning we are looking at “What Jesus said
about Self Love.”  And that one isn’t so
easy is it?  There are probably those of
you who are thinking “Well we aren’t supposed to love ourselves, didn’t Denn
pay attention to the scripture reading? 
Love God and Love others.”    And for many that is the bottom line, it
should never be about self, that’s why we are taught to be selfless not
selfish.  It’s why within the church we
find those who celebrate the Mother Theresas in life and scorn the
Madonnas.  Theresa is celebrated for not
thinking of herself while it is felt that Madonna only thinks about herself. 
But is that what Jesus really taught?  Did he teach his apostles to feel nothing but
scorn for who they are and what they are? 
There are certainly those out there who would suggest that.  Anyone who watched or read “The Da Vinci
Code” remembers the villain of the piece was a monk named Silas, who was part
of a Catholic organization called “Opus Dei” Probably the most disturbing
images in the movie and the book revolved around Silas punishing himself, first
with the cilice, a small chain with inward pointing spikes worn around the
upper thigh for up to two hours a day and secondly through flagellation that is
whipping himself with a whip called a discipline.  And while “The Da Vinci Code” was fiction and
the portrayal of Opus Dei was somewhat less than accurate there have been
Christian factions through the centuries who have promoted very similar
philosophies.  And those practices were
designed to remind people of how unworthy there were in the eyes of God and how
unworthy they should consider themselves in their own eyes. 
And I would challenge
that.  Let’s listen to Jesus words
again.  Mark 12:29-31 Jesus
replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD
our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all
your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is
equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is
greater than these.”   
A little
background here, Jesus had begun the day teaching the crowds who had gathered
and was interrupted first by the Pharisees and the Herodians who challenged him
with questions about taxation trying to trap him.  And then it was the Sadducees who wanted to
debate his views on the resurrection of the dead.  Now one of the teachers of religious law asks
Jesus “Of all the commandments which is the most important?”  And Jesus reaches back into the Old Testament
for his answer. The first part of his answer comes from Deuteronomy
6:4-5
“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  And you must love the LORD your God with all
your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”  And then he adds to that  Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or
bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I
am the LORD.”
And this is the first time we see
these two commandments tied together. 
And because they are the words of Jesus, and because he identifies them
as being so important we work at it.  We
really try and make an effort to Love God and  Love Others. 
And we focus on the part about
“Love the Lord your God”  and “Love your
neighbour” but the how we are to love is defined along with the who we should
love.   You are to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all
your mind, and all your strength.  And
you are to love your neighbour how?  “As
yourself”.   It was Sebastien-Roch
Nicolas De Chamfort who said “If you must love your neighbor as yourself, it is
at least as fair to love yourself as your neighbor.”
Some people spend so much love on
God and others they have none left for themselves
And like math if one part of the formula is flawed the whole
formula is flawed.  From my experience in
life I have discovered that people who don’t love themselves have a hard time
loving others, and that people who don’t love themselves don’t accomplish very
much and people who don’t love themselves have a hard time with grace because
they can’t understand how much God loves them. 
And frankly I think we do ourselves and our God a grave
disservice when we can’t find it within ourselves to love His greatest
creation.  Time after time the scriptures
speak of God’s love for us.  He loved us
so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son for us.  And then we have the audacity to challenge
that love and negate that sacrifice by scorning ourselves and demeaning
ourselves.   
In the story of creation, after God had created the world,
after he had cast the milky way into the evening sky, after he separated the
day from the night and set the eagle free and designed the giraffe, then he
created man in his own image and said “This is Good”. 
Throughout the Gospels Jesus takes the time again and again
to remind his apostle just how much God cares for them and loves them, and over
and over he challenges people to love their neighbours, but not just love them
in some undefined nebulous manner but to love their neighbours as they love themselves.  And those have to go hand in hand.  You can’t love yourself more then you love
those around you but you shouldn’t love yourself less either.  I love what Whoopi Goldberg  said “I’ve learned to take time for
myself and to treat myself with a great deal of love and respect `cause I like
me…. I think I’m kind of cool.”
Through the years I have met literally thousands of people,
we all have.  Think of the neighbours you
have had through the years, the roommates, the friends, even family that have
drifted in and out of your life.  The one
constant is you, you will always have to live with yourself, and so it really
is in your best interest to learn to love that person that you are going to
spend the rest of your life with.  It was
Kurt
Vonnegut Jr. who said “There’s only one me, and I’m stuck with him.”
So why do we find it so hard to love ourselves? 
1) We Listen to
Others 
Some people have spent their
lives being minimized by others.  They
have listened to other’s telling them they don’t measure up.  Perhaps it was their parents, who spoke those
cutting words, “You’re slow” “You’re stupid” 
“You’re fat”  “You won’t amount to
anything”  “Why are you like that?”  “Why can’t you be like your brother, sister,
friend.” 
Or maybe it was the
other kids at school or maybe a spouse. 
They have been run down and bullied by so many they believe the lies
that have been told.  But you need to understand
critical people are usually little
people, I don’t mean little physically I mean little emotionally, and little
spiritually and they are trying to cut you down to their level  because it is a lot easier to bring you down
then to pull themselves up. 
And then we grow up and society bombards us with its
definition of success and beauty.  And we
don’t realize that so much of what society and the media presents is simply an
illusion, but when we don’t measure up to their standards we find it hard to
love ourselves.  I’m sure most of you
have seen this clip that was presented as part of Dove Soap’s campaign about
beauty.  (Dove video clip)
And then when we accept God’s grace and begin to follow
Jesus the devil starts to whisper in our ear, “You’re no good”  “Remember yesterday”  “You’re not worthy”.  But the word of God tells us that the devil
is a liar.
Nobody can steal your self-esteem without your
permission. 
And as destructive as it can be to listen to the voices of
others there is something even more destructive. 
2) We Listen to
Ourselves 
We all talk to ourselves.  Not in the crazy, conversational way, well
maybe that way as well.  It was Franklin P.
Jones  who wrote “One advantage
of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening.”
You talk to yourself all the time; you just don’t want to
admit it.  As you are listening to this
message you are talking to yourself.  You
are saying “Let’s see if I understand what Denn is saying.” Or you are saying
“Is he serious?”  Or “We have company
coming at 12, I hope Denn keeps it short.” 
We talk to ourselves all the time, about what we see, and what we
experience.   Sometimes it is simply
reporting the facts but often it is editorial, we are telling ourselves how an
experience makes us feel. 
And the words we speak to ourselves have an incredible potential
to shape who we are.  There is very
little in life that bothers me as much as hearing someone indulge in negative
self-talk.  “I am so clumsy”, “ I am so
stupid”, “I will never amount to anything.” 
And these words become self-fulfilling prophecies.  You literally speak them into
fulfilment.  
Denis Waitley, author of Seeds of Greatness wrote  “There is no opinion so vitally important to
your well-being as the opinion you have of yourself.”  And too often we are guilty of telling
ourselves things that we would never tell someone we love, we criticize and  we speak critical words, we cast blame and don’t
accept any excuses.  And like hearing it
from others it’s very difficult to rise about those criticisms. 
What is the Solution to Loving Ourselves?
1) We Listen to
Others
  If you have to listen to
someone then listen to your fans.  Listen
to those who speak goodness into your life. 
And when someone compliments you for something accept it.  Don’t minimize it, don’t negate it.  “Oh really it was nothing” “Yeah but I’m not
as good as so and so”  
Listen to the word of God, Psalm
139:17-18 “
How precious are your thoughts about me,
O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the
grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” 
It was Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe who said “If God had
wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.”  And that was echoed by Minnie
Smith  when she said “I am as my
creator made me and since He is satisfied, so am I.”
Over and over again Jesus reminded his followers how much he
loved them and how much God cared for them and that goes for you as well.  You are God’s greatest creation.  David writes in    Psalm 139:13 You
made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my
mother’s womb.  You
are a masterpiece of the almighty God. 
You are not an accident, you are not a oops in the grand plan, you are
an intentional creation of God.  He made
you who you are and he made you what you are.
Think about it
you are a walking talking miracle, only God could have made you what you
are.  Engineers have never been able to
come close to devising a machine equal to God’s supreme achievement, you.  Is it any wonder that David wrote in Psalm 139:14 Thank
you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how
well I know it.
You are not a mistake, or a goof or an
accident, you are a divine creation, spoke into being by the same God who
fashioned the great barrier reef who moulded the Rocky Mountains with his
hands, scooped out the grand canyon with his fingers and cast the milky way
into the night sky.
To question the creator or to belittle
his creation is pretty close to blaspheme. 
Maybe you are thinking “But preacher I’m not very tall, or very athletic,
or very pretty, and I can’t play Guitar like Jason or dance like Denn”.  Have you ever watched God doodle in the
evening sky with a sunset.  And as you
stood there and marvelled at the masters hand in nature, do you ever shout to
the heavens.  Hey, you could use a little
more purple in the back and the oranges aren’t quite as bright as they could
be. 

Every one of us is as unique as a sunset, and each one of us is precious to God
because of our uniqueness, because he is the one who made us unique.

The second step to learning to love ourselves is to 2) We Listen to Ourselves Let’s go back
to Denis
Waitley again “Your mental picture of yourself is the key to your healthy
development.  You are the writer,
director, and star of either an Oscar wining epic or a Grade B movie.  Who you see in your imagination will always
rule your world.”
If you make a mistake then tell yourself you will do better
next time, when you do something well congratulate yourself on it.  Cast a vision for your future and remind
yourself of that vision.   You should be
your own greatest fan and you need to tell yourself how much you appreciate
you, because if you don’t nobody else will. 
And again I believe this is a choice we make, when you catch
yourself being negative stop and turn it around.  And maybe you are thinking, “I don’t think I
can do that, I don’t think I can speak positively about myself.”  Well then take it one step at a time and remember
what your mother taught you, if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything
at all.  But please, please, please, don’t
minimize the power of self-talk.   It is
not touch feely, it’s not psycho- babble, it’s not New Age gobblegook it is a
reality.   You will be what you tell
yourself you will be.    Nobody else has
the right to talk down to you and neither do you.  We try to speak words of encouragement into
the lives of those we love, and if we are supposed to love ourselves then we
need to let our words demonstrate it.
And finally here is the crux of
the message, if we are going to love ourselves then it will start to  happen when we 3) We Forgive Ourselves  Often
the reason we don’t love ourselves is because of something in our past.  Something we have done, or think we have done
and we need to forgive ourselves.  You
cannot continue to define yourself and judge yourself through the lens of
yesterday.   I don’t know what it is that
makes you think you are a terrible person but if God has forgiven you then you
need to forgive you.   And if you haven’t
asked God to forgive you yet that is the first step.  We read in Acts 3:19 Now
repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.   Let’s read that together,  Acts 3:19 Now
repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.  So what happens when you repent and
turn to God?  That’s right your sins will
be wiped out.  Listen to what King David
wrote in Psalm 103:12 He has removed our sins
as far from us as the east is from the west. 
If God wipes out our sins, if God removes them as far as the east
is the from the west then we have no business dredging them up. 
You can’t change the past and
you shouldn’t be defined by your worst moment. 
If you can truly believe today
that God, the creator and master of the entire universe is able to love you
then please make the effort to love and respect yourself.
Mark 12:29-31 Jesus
replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD
our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all
your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is
equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is
greater than these.”