self

As Momma Put It

In plenty of self-help and therapy philosophies of the world we are told to love ourselves or to love ourselves more, with the books2assumption that certain people legitimately don’t love themselves. Now in theory, that is good thinking, but Biblically, we never hear that, the idea is that we already love ourselves, and if anything, we are told to love ourselves less. But what about those that treat themselves badly (cutting, drugs, drinking, promiscuity, eating disorders, gambling, i.e.)?? Well when you think about it, technically they love themselves enough to try to find an outlet to feel better or no matter how much of a negative behavior it may be, the world’s philosophy is to do whatever brings you pleasure or whatever it is that makes you happy in order to love yourself. I would say that the problem is not that people don’t love themselves, but they don’t know how to do it or they love themselves way too much. Think about it. When a person cheats on their spouse or abuses them, it’s not uncommon to hear “but I do love you.” Now, in actuality, they may really love them, but they were never taught the right way. Am I excusing it? Absolutely not, but making a point.

Long story short, our definition and idea of love toward self and toward others is backwards and so far from the way God intended. So much in so that we are blinded by happiness from what love is. The problem is that happiness is a state of emotion based on a situation, which would explain why people turn over and over again to vices, because that had only a temporary high. In turn, because people are ignorant of how to love ourselves, we are utterly lost in the ability to appropriately love others. So what’s the answer?

Well, Scripture lays it out pretty clearly. To love appropriately, you must first love Jesus, because he himself is love; it was Jesus that died in our place. Jesus showed love to whoever came his way, and so in loving him by getting to know him, talking with him, spending time with him, and communing with him via his Word, it’s inevitable that you learn to love him. I mean seriously, what’s not to love? And the more we fall in love with him, the more of his love should permeate through us onto others because we will begin to imitate his incredible version of love. Once you’ve met with Jesus, you will never be the same. Once he touches you, it is bound to rub off on someone else. Now, what’s next?

Jesus’ whole ministry was built on love, even loving the least of them. So by following the way of Jesus, we learn to love others, even our enemies and love our loved ones when they are most unlovable. The first of the greatest commandments is to love God, and the second is to love others. Paul in 1 Corinthians gives a whole chapter on what love for one another looks like, and the total of the Mosaic law can be summed up in loving God and loving others. If we are to be disciples, then our love for each other should be our defining trait. It’s a matter of putting others’ needs ahead or considering them more important than your own. It’s easier said than done, but as your love for Jesus increases, so does your ability to sincerely and unconditionally love others.

Looking back at the great commandment, after loving God, you love your neighbor, then after loving your neighbor, you love yourself. Now with many of the commands God gives His people, if you really examine them they are in place to protect us and keep us in good terms. For example, being careful of what you eat, and taking care of your temple, your own body, not participating in sinful acts, or participating in things to get you caught up in bad or compromising situations. If you love yourself, you will consider these things a lot more, because worldly thinking is that following Christ is a matter of all these crazy rules and killjoys, when instead God had our best interest at heart. And if we want to love God back we will love ourselves enough to consider what He says to make us most effective in the life assigned to us. If you don’t believe me, consider all the things He said we shouldn’t do or think and more and more we are falling away, and where has that gotten us? Okay, but so what? I know, I felt myself rambling so I digress and will keep it moving.

To be  you for a purpose, you have to be anchored in love, because anything done without love, no matter how good or noble, is of no value. Therefore, let’s recap, how do we love appropriately? Love Jesus first, then love others, then love yourself. In that order. Jesus, others, yourself. Jesus. Others. You…J.O.Y. Catch my drift yet? The world’s philosophy of love is based on happiness, which is temporary; here one day, gone the next. But, when you follow God’s idea of love, you walk away with an incredible sense of joy, that the world can’t give you, nor can the world take away. My momma taught me that.

Otiose

There are so many things that we can busy ourselves with today, between work, family, ministry, hobbies, friends, projects, weight loss, school, memberships, business, even keeping up with the flowers on the porch. We do what we can to be comfortable and to be successful, to feel accomplished, and to feel that we have made something of ourselves; we want to feel needed and important.

In the Western culture, it is all about independence and making sure “I got mine” and self is taken care of. So we put every bit of effort as we can to make it from day to day, some more ambitiously as others, striving to meet the world’s expectation of worth. We get educated and chase money, pursue dreams or pursue that which we think will make us happy. With all this running around, it gets tiring and it is so easy to lose focus and sight of what is really important. Our priorities get messed up and we tend to leave others behind.

Our efforts are temporal at best, surface level satisfaction, and after a while it becomes mundane and we just go through the motions of life even though we aren’t truly living. When you look at it, it’s as if we operate and function as if there are mirrors everywhere we go, and at some point we look in one and see ourselves smiling; we are the center of our universe and frankly put, that’s vanity. This “all about me” society has crippled us, and at some point we have to ask, what I’m doing, will it last? Am I leaving the world in better condition than when I first arrived? What does it all count for?

Living a life of purpose means that you understand first and foremost, that it is not about you. Your being is not for the purpose of making yourself happy, but pouring out and impacting others lives. Those are the things we take with us when we cross over. Furthermore, we can get so caught up and wonder why we are tired and all but satisfied, because we fail to confer with the Author of our life. Though there are many things that are good, not everything will push towards the specific destiny that God has for each of His children.

When we work in our human effort and move without the hand of the living and active God, it is all worthless and means nothing. He is the only one that gives us value, not money, possessions, accomplishments, degrees, good deeds, etc. It’s only the work for Him that will last. We can try all we want, but apart from Christ, it all means nothing, no matter how “noble” or “positive” or “good” what we do is. Just because it’s not bad, doesn’t mean it’s what God has for you to do. As I have read before, we tend to be unsatisfied and tired most when we do what the Lord is not telling us to do, not necessarily living a sinful life, but simply not walking in His will.

Being you for a purpose means that you understand that if God is not behind you, there is no point in going forward in a direction, which may also mean cutting things and people off, good or bad, that are hindering Him doing what He has purposed to do in, by, through and for you. It means acknowledging that God is the One that gives life and meaning to everything. It means recognizing that time is too precious to waste on things that have no eternal significance. Know that in God alone will you find true and everlasting satisfaction because He created you; He is the only one that can lead you and make you into all you were destined to become. It’s easy to be busy, but the goal is to make it count, and without Christ, that is impossible to do.

Be you for a purpose, not living or being otiose.

Psalm 127: 1-2