I’m Allowed to Love Myself

This will probably become a sermon sometime in the next few months, but in a discussion with someone this morning something really struck me and I can’t help but begin my exploration of it right here.

What are the two greatest commandments? See Matthew 22:34-40.

1. Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind.

2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Look at that second commandment again. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’ve often looked at the first three words–love your neighbor. But what about that ellipsis at the end? “As you love yourself.” What about that?

In my conversation this morning, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m allowed to love myself. In fact, more than allowed, I’m commanded to. If I don’t love myself, how will I love my neighbor properly?

Maybe this is nothing to you, but this was an epiphany for me. I spend most of my time hating myself. I see all my mistakes and sins. I know that I’m unworthy. I’ve trained myself to think that if in any moment I actually think I might be someone lovable, then I am being proud and arrogant. I’ve trained myself to believe I’m supposed to notice all my bad choices and bad actions. I talk to myself about them all the time. I call myself names. I’m one of those people who likes to express what is bad about me before others get a chance to. That way the hurt won’t sting as badly. 

But look at what Jesus said. I’m allowed to love myself. I’m supposed to love myself. Loving myself isn’t selfishness. Loving myself isn’t refusing to love others. In fact, loving myself is the path to love others truly.

How do I love myself? I Corinthians 13:4-7 provides some clues.

Am I patient with myself? Do I realize that today’s mistakes don’t define me? Do I realize that God is still working within me? Do I know that He will conform me to the image of His Son in His time so I don’t have to hate myself today for my mistakes?

Am I kind to myself?  Do I take care of myself? When I’m tired do I let myself rest? When I need solitude, do I seek it? When I need to eat, do I? When I need to express how I feel, will I? Do I speak kindly to myself?

Am I envious? I know this one seems to be about others. If I love them, I won’t envy them. However, I think I can see this about myself too. If I am envious of others, I don’t love myself. Do I see the gifts God has given me? Am I thankful for them? Do I love me for those gifts of God?

Do I boast or am I arrogant? This one lets me know that loving myself is not about personal pride. If I’m boasting in myself, them I’m puffing myself up. Instead, I need to boast in God, His grace, His love, His work in me.

Am I rude to myself? Sometimes I talk to myself in ways I would never talk to others. I miss a turn and start berating myself, “Idiot, moron. How could you do something so stupid?” This gets back to patience and kindness. 

Do I insist on my own way? I’ve learned that the way that seems right to me ends in death. I need to follow God’s way. Loving me means giving me the freedom to surrender to Christ and follow His will.

Am I irritable? I’ve found that I’m most irritable or easily-provoked with others when I am irritated with myself. I think this goes along with patience and kindness. Can I accept that I messed up earlier without letting myself be bogged down for days in personal anger?

Am I resentful? Do I take into account wrongs suffered. If I spend my days keeping score of all the wrongs I’ve done, I won’t be able to love me. Here’s what I need to learn. God knew all the wrongs I would commit and sent Jesus to die for me anyway. That’s how much He loved me. Loving myself doesn’t mean ignoring my wrongs. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean keeping a running total of all the wrong I’ve committed to bring up when I might start thinking something nice about myself either.

Do I rejoice in wrongdoing or in the truth? This ties in with the resentful demonstrating that not keeping score of my wrongs does not mean I’m just allowed to do wrong without concern. Loving myself means learning to rejoice when I do surrender to Jesus’ truth. All too often, when I do have victories I don’t rejoice, instead I let past defeats tarnish present victories.

Do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things? Loving myself means recognizing that whatever I’m facing right now will pass. I don’t need to escape into fantasy. I don’t need to escape into sin. I don’t need to escape through death. I can sit in God’s arms, with Him as my refuge and face whatever is going on. I can know that I will get through this. I can know that whatever mistakes I’ve made, God will work it out for good for me and I can hang on.

What a revelation for me today. I’m allowed to love myself. Then I’ll be able to love you. I think I’ll start today.

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Answering the Devil’s Challenge about God’s Love

Below is a disturbing video. It is a challenge laid down by a religious group stating Satan’s challenge. 

Prove God’s love. It is a bit shocking, but I think we need to answer the challenge.

How do we answer this challenge? We don’t answer it by stating all the doctrines about God’s love. We don’t simply quote the verses about God’s love.

We prove God’s love by loving.

I John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” We prove His love for us by loving others based on His love for us.

I John 3:18 says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” We need to quit talking about God’s love. We need to quit trying to defend God’s love through doctrinal debate or theological arguments. We need to show God’s love in deed and in truth.

Prove that God loves you. Prove it by loving others.

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The Value of a Soul

For many years now my wife and I have been collectors and “shoppers” of antiques. More shopping than buying, but still fun. One of the thrills of dabbling in antiques is to find a piece in an antique shop that is similar to one you own and using the price of the piece in the shop to establish the value of the piece you have in your home.

Recently, I have been involved with liquidating the estate of my late uncle. He had been a collector of metal toy soldiers for more than sixty years. I have spent many hours reading books, searching online, and corresponding with dealers to establish the value of his collection.

From both of these experiences I have been made aware of a marketing truth. The VALUE of an item is equal to the PRICE someone is willing to pay at any given time.

Using this principle, what is the VALUE of your SOUL?

Romans 5:8 says, “But, God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The VALUE of our SOUL is equal to the ultimate PRICE willingly paid by Christ at a time when we were without VALUE.

PRICE PAID, LIFE OF CHRIST = SOUL’S VALUE, PRICELESS

Matthew 16:26 says, ” For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own SOUL? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his SOUL?”

-David Coleman

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God is Powerful Enough to Forgive Even You

I have heard many people say, “I could never make heaven my home because of the terrible life I have lived. I have done so many bad and sinful things in my life, God would never forgive me of my sins.” The individuals that make this claim have not studied God’s word enough. Some of the leading characters in the Bible engaged in some very sinful activites.

Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of a great nation and bless all the families of the earth in him. In Genesis 12:12-13 Abraham went down into Egypt. He was afraid Pharaoh would kill him to get his beautiful wife Sarah, so he said Sarah was his sister. He lied. We also see in Genesis 20:1-2 that Abraham went to Gerar where there was a king named Abimelech. Abraham again feared for his life and told King Abimelech that Sarah was his sister. He had a habit of not telling the truth.

Abraham and Sarah had a child in their old age, the child was named Isaac. Isaac also married a beautiful woman named Rebekah. In Genesis 26:6-7, Isaac, like his father, told the men in Gerar that Rebekah was his sister. He also was a liar.

Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons named Esau and Jacob. Esau was the oldest twin and therefore was supposed to receive the birthright and his father’s blessing. Jacob took advantage of Esau and was able to get Esau’s birthright for a bowl of pottage. Rebekah loved Jacob more that Esau. She overheard Isaac, her husband, telling Esau to go into the field and get some venison to make him a savory meat dish, and he would give him his blessing before he died. Rebekah devised a plan to deceive her aged husband who had lost most of his eye sight.  She had Jacob get a kid from the flock and kill it so she could make a savory meat dish. Because Esau was a hairy man, she took the animal’s skin and put it on Jacob’s arms so Isaac would think Jacob was Esau. When Jacob took the meat to Isaac, he asked are you Esau, and Jacob said yes he was and received his father blessing. This family continues to lie and deceive.

Another great Bible character was King David. In II Samuel 11 there is an account of David walking on the roof and saw a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, taking a bath. He lusted after her and sent one of his messengers to bring her to him. The Bible said he “lay with her” and the woman conceived and was with child. David tried to hide his sin by bringing her husband Uriah home from fighting the King’s battles. Uriah was a very loyal soldier and would not sleep with his wife because his fellow soldiers were sleeping in the fields. David then tried to get Uriah intoxicated thinking he would then go into his wife, this also failed. He sent Uriah back to the battle. David then sent word to Joab, his commander, to put Uriah on the front line and withdraw the troops. Joab followed David’s command resulting in Uriah’s death. David committed adultery and had a brave and loyal soldier murdered. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David about his sin. Nathan did that and David, deeply grieved because of his sin, repented. In Psalm 32:5, David said,  “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sins.    In Acts 13:22, Stephen quoted the Lord saying “I have found David the son of Jesse a man after my own heart.”

The great apostle Paul said in I Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthily of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” In Romans 7:7-25, Paul was very frustrated and says over and over when he tried to do right he kept sinning and doing carnal things.

From these examples, it is quite apparent that many of the outstanding Bible characters did many sinful things, including lying, deceitful acts, adultery, and murder. When they repented God forgave and forgot their sins. If you think you have lived too sinful of a life for God to forgive you, realize you cannot limit the power of God to forgive. If God’s forgiveness was powerful enough to forgive these folks, it is powerful enough to forgive even you.

–Don Adair

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Evil Exists because God is Love

Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher who lived about 300 B.C., said, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able and not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” Others have asked these same questions for the 2300 years since. However, in their seeming wisdom, they merely demonstrate how philosophers, enamored with their own wisdom cannot see the flaws in their own reasoning.

Epicurus and his philosophical offspring over the millennia have created a false dilemma. That is, they have developed a set of choices and acted like the choices they have listed are the only ones available when they are not.

Epicurus believed a God who is able to eradicate evil but doesn’t do so must be malevolent. So, there are but two choices. Either God is not able to do anything about evil or God is evil Himself. It didn’t occur to Epicurus that there is a third option. It never occurred to him that God might actually be wiser than him and have a better alternative.

Is it possible God sees a good end that can come from the evil and suffering that goes on in the world even today? Is it possible God allows evil because in His infinite wisdom He can actually use it in a way that benefits men if we will let it?

I suggest God who is able to eradicate all evil is unwilling to do so not because He is malevolent but because He loves us too much to do so. First, His love is demonstrated by granting us the free will to choose between good and evil. He loves us too much to force us to be good like Him. He lets us pursue our own course.

Second, He loves us enough to allow evil so that we may grow and learn to rely on Him, which leads to salvation (cf. II Corinthians 12:7-10; Romans 5:3-5). Without evil in the world, we would have no notion of our need to turn to and rely on God. We would be lost and never know it.

Third, He loves us enough to allow evil so we can learn to be merciful like Him (cf. Matthew 5:7). If there were no evil, we could not learn how to relieve the suffering of those who have endured evil. We could not learn to be like God.

Finally, God loved us enough to send His Son as an answer to all evil. By surrendering to Jesus (cf. Galatians 2:20), we can eradicate evil in our lives and help do so in others and prepare for the day God eradicates the world because it is evil.

Yes, evil exists, but not because God is malevolent. No, evil exists because God is love.

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PS. As promised, you get extra bonus material on our website that those who only read the bulletin version of this article don’t get.

I just had to use the version of the pic above because of the smart-aleck comment whoever generated this version made. “Athiests (sic) Winning Since 33 A.D.” This poor individual, who doesn’t seem to even know how to spell “Atheists” also doesn’t get it. He sees the death of Jesus in A.D. 33. Certainly, on that Friday, it seemed like Atheists had won. Yet, on the third day, they found out they were losing. 

Jesus claimed the victory by rising from the dead. 

Of course, this atheist will deny that happened. However, this statement is a great logical contradiction for the atheist. In fact, by making this smart aleck comment, the author of the picture admits that Jesus was someone important. He was not just some unknown or fictitious person. He was and is a real person. He is someone that has to be dealt with if one is going to be an atheist. Further, note the use of A.D. What an admission of the importance of this man who is supposedly nothing but just one of us. All of time has been measured from this man.

Here is my challenge, if the atheists won in 33 A.D. by killing Jesus, produce His remains. If you can’t, then learn who was truly victorious in 33 A.D.

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