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Countering the Sin of Self-Loathing
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  • Counter the sin of self-loathing

    “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Mark 12:31

    It took me a minute to write this. It’s been on my mind as recently I was convicted of a behavior that I hadn’t realized was sin.

    Self -loathing.

    Let me explain.

    I like me. In fact, I love me–better than I ever have. However, there are moments I slide back into a habit from my youth of somewhat beating myself up. A month ago, I was lamenting over a past costly decision that I often come back to. That regret cycle had me on a hamster wheel, going round and round over if I would’ve chose differently the possible outcome. My husband — who keeps it a buck — said, “You got to stop that. You keep being hard on yourself for something you thought at the time was right. Stop it.” I paused before going into my regular argument of “but” and “what if”. I took my internal temperature and felt my spirit plummet.

    I said to him, “I’m loathing myself over that. I’m in sin, aren’t I?”

    He didn’t even take a breath before responding.

    “Yes”.

    I repented and prayed.

    Then decided to give myself a break. Self-condemnation is a direct antithesis to the Word of God.

    “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

    There are many reasons people loathe themselves.

    Words spoken to a child that alter self-esteem as an adult.

    Insecurities about appearance.

    Being the victim of abusive behavior.

    Past mistakes which constantly come to mind.

    And these are just a few.

    Don’t get it twisted; we’re not to be self-exalted and prideful – because that is sin (Proverbs 8:13, 21:4; James 4:6). But God gives a clear command in His Word. We are called to love God, our neighbors and ourselves.

    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Luke 10:27

    Thing is, we can’t give away what we don’t have. An empty pitcher cannot fill a cup simply because there is nothing there.  It’s crucial as believers we learn to freely love ourselves. Don’t mistake healthy God-ordained self-love with conceit. We’re allowed to love ourselves because we are created in God’s image and likeness(Genesis 1:27).

    So how do we go from self-loathing to self-love that is godly and healthy?

    Accept God’s Word about you as absolute truth. God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). We are flawless ( Song of Solomon 4:7).  Loved  and accepted (Ephesians 1:6). But how about we house the Spirit of the living God Himself? Keep in mind, God don’t play about His temple.

    Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

    If we truly love God, we should embrace the Him within, too. That cannot happen if we err and practice self-loathing.

    Acknowledge false beliefs about self-love vs. pride. God has never called us to hate ourselves. In Ephesians 5:29 we’re told, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” Yes, Paul is talking about husbands in the marital context but isn’t that a call for all of us? On the contrary, there’s a false narrative many embrace about humility. Humility is not self-hatred; low self- esteem doesn’t equate to being more godly. In fact, it’s the opposite of what the Lord commands.  When we concentrate only on ourselves – even negatively – we become the center of our focus instead of Christ. Anything we replace Christ with becomes an idol, including self. We must have the right perspective, as instructed in the Bible.

    “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

    Allow yourself permission to love yourself as is; right now. Perfection will not arrive until Jesus transforms us into our heavenly bodies( Philippians 3:20; 1 John 3:2). No, don’t excuse sinful behavior or wrong thinking but don’t make the mistake of waiting until you think you’re ‘perfect enough’ to love. We’re always arriving. As Paul said in Philippians 3:12, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

    Anyone can struggle with self-loathing, despite what life looks like on the outside. Yet, all of us can go from focusing on what we don’t like and love who we are, pleasing the Lord as we do.