05 November 2006

Love Yourself

This morning's Gospel reading (for Ordinary 31) was: Mark 12:28-34.

In thinking about the reading, I came up with the old chestnut that this commandment actually has three parts: the love of God, the love of self and the love of the other person.

I grew up in an environment that hated, loathed and despised that idea that human individuals might love themselves. Liking oneself in any way was the sin of pride, they said.

Clearly, disliking oneself is of no use to anyone. How can a person show the love or God or work for justice and righteousness if they are bound in fear by their own inadequacies? Ironically, disliking oneself can actually make us more self-focussed as we worry about what we "should" do, how others perceive us and as we constantly battle the fear of failure.

Is there a "good" way to love oneself? I think that there is a good way to love oneself. And that is by constantly querying one's self-love with the love of God and the love of neighbour.

Does my self-love energise me to praise, thank and worship God and to admit to God when I am wrong? Does my self-love motivate me to improve in acts of justice and righteousness? Does my self-love make me enthusiastic to give the love of God to others - not just trying to get them to think as I do about God - but actually showing them outrageous acts of kindness and mercy in a practical way?

I think that if we can say "yes" to these questions most of the time, then our self-love is Godly and is part of our becoming the person we were meant to be.

If my self-love makes me regard myself as better than others (and look out for the "thank God I am not like that Pharisee" phenemenon!), then it is probably the sin of pride rather than healthly self-love.

I suspect we all manifest both aspects of self-love and we need to ask for the ability to move away from the sin of pride. This does not, however, mean that all self-love is unGodly or unChristian.


Sally said...

I agree Pam- we need to develop a healthy way to love ourselves- for me discovering how God saw me was crucial, and is something I need to return to again and again.

ampraisingHim said...

A true, Godly view of self is important. Thanks for the reminder.