September 30, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

How Do I Love Me…?

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Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

God’s ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8); so, sometimes we have a hard time harmonizing biblical truths with day to day living. Love is a good example. While Christ’s love is pure, endless, and sacrificial, our love tends to be self serving, limited, and conditional. Godly love is foreign to our carnal minds. That’s why we need to walk in the Spirit (Gal.5:16-17) for it to work.

Denying ourselves. Preferring others. Dying to self. Sounds dour and grim, doesn’t it? But we have it backwards! Our hedonistic culture feeds our flesh by subtly promoting the idea that getting what we want is a noble goal. We’re left with thoughts like, “What will I get out of it?” “I deserve more!” “I’m being ripped off!” “I need to do this for me.” These are common attitudes of the world (1 Cor. 3:3). But Christians are supposed to live like Christ—we’re supposed to walk in the Truth. And the truth is that without Christ all any of us deserve is hell (John 3:18). I need to remember that. If the King of kings suffered a humiliating death on a cross for the likes of me, how can I dare live like I “deserve better?”

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)

If putting someone else’s needs or wants before your own feels foreign and unnatural, that’s because, in a very real way it is. But Jesus said, we’re to live for others. He said that “whoever loses his life for [Christ’s] sake would find it.” (Matthew 16:25). Jesus wants us to follow the model He provided for us. To lay down our lives—not just in a dramatic scene of martyrdom, but in the day to day sacrifices of love and servanthood. Remember, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples (John 13:5)!

Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:27-28

Jesus is our model of love and sacrifice. Here’s the thing: Jesus said the greatest commandment was for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And the second He said was to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now, we obviously don’t have to be taught how to love ourselves, do we? We’re born knowing how to love ourselves.

Pain is a good example. When I’m in pain, nobody is more aware of it than me. If I have a migraine, I may search out a dark room or take medication. And I certainly don’t forget to pray! I am totally focused on trying to avoid that pain – it may be all I can think about. But do I ever forget to pray for that lady down the street who is going through chemo?

And if I’m hungry, my thoughts are on satisfying my hunger. I don’t forget to eat for a few days because I’m busy. But I might forget to bring a meal to someone who could use it.

Self Esteem

Some may say, “Well, my problem is that I don’t love myself enough. I’ve had ‘low self esteem’ all my life. So I’m trying to learn to put myself first for a change.” This may sound reasonable on the surface, but I would beg to differ. It may be very true that you don’t view yourself biblically— you may not see the value and beauty that God sees when He looks at you (Psalm 139:14). You may suffer greatly from memories that torment you–episodes from your past that have damaged you emotionally, and tempt you to forget that your identity is in Christ (not in how you or others see you). However, when Jesus said that we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), He said it because he knew that self-love comes naturally.

I am naturally inclined to love myself – to take care of my own needs. But Jesus wants me to be supernaturally inclined to the needs of others. To go against what comes natural to my flesh—to die to self and serve others. He requires me to love others supernaturally…the way I love myself naturally. We live in a world that wants to turn the Gospel upside down, but the Gospel has already turned sin and death upside down–die to live, live to die.

His name is above all other names. He alone is worthy to be praised; yet, often His name is slandered in the streets because of our failure to do things His way. Though we are to walk in the Spirit, we choose instead to do what comes easy—to do what comes natural. We live a “me first” life. But we have a higher calling. In all we do, we are to glorify God—reflecting His love and holiness; so that His name is hallowed in us before the eyes of those who do not know Him (Ezekiel 36:23).

If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. (James 3:14–17)

Radical Love

So, my challenge to you today is this. Spend the day focusing on the needs of others—purposely. Even in the simple things. When you feel the urge to have a cup of tea, offer it to those around you first (or even instead, if there is only enough for one). Live as a deliberate servant— look to see what others may need and earnestly seek to meet those needs. Ask someone how you might pray for them, how you might help them with a physical need, or how you might encourage them—just out of the blue. Don’t wait for a phone call—ask. Step out of your comfort zone and look for ways to serve. Live the supernatural life.

Remember, we are one Body. Let’s live like it.

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Ephesians 4:4)

“That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:36-40)

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7 Responses to “How Do I Love Me…?”

  1. Paula says:

    What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing, Stacy.

  2. Another post packed with truth! Thank you!

  3. ChristinMom says:

    Love your Blog!

  4. Dana Adams says:

    Your article is great. I especially appreciate the part under self-esteem.
    It is soo true. Without Christ we are ‘nada’.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I see this all over the place; one former Christian, on discussing how men are pushed to be jerks, said it’s better for men to be jerks than risk being hurt by women. Likewise, women are encouraged to be self-centered rather than self-sacrificial.

  6. Theresa says:

    Wonderful article, Stacy. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn at an adult – I pray the Holy Spirit helps me to teach it wisely now to my children so that they grow up knowing how to sacrificially serve others out of love.

  7. […] following excerpt was written by Stacy McDonald and taken from Your Sacred Calling.  Link to entire article below. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “If any man will come after […]

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