Loving yourself all comes down to how well you are able to receive the love that God has for you.
In 2004, I went through a massive, massive transformation where I’ve just never been the same since. I’ve dedicated my life to helping people to experience healing, to experience freedom, experience transformation from the inside out. Understanding the power of love to set you free, understanding the war that we’re under, and tending to the areas of the heart that we don’t pay attention to and we neglect.
Let’s be honest, in the world that we live in, it’s really easy to ignore the life of your heart. It’s really easy to ignore pain and the problems you’re going through. We so easily shrug past this issues and get busy, filling our day with stuff. It can be easy to ignore ourselves.
We then wonder why we are struggling so much and not seeing the transformation that we desire. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we’re numbing ourselves out to things and not facing the issues we need to face.
The Struggle of Not Loving Ourselves
One of the major problems today is we do not love ourselves. For centuries we have been ignoring this and I want to be a megaphone regarding this subject so we can face this and change. We must face the subject of what loving yourself means, because we have not understood it, therefore much confusion exists regarding it.
If you search the topic of loving yourself or self-love online, you’ll probably end up on a lot of psychology and self-help sites. All good stuff, all helpful things, but why aren’t we, as the Body of Christ, talking about the subject of loving yourself? The love of God is the most important subject that exists. And receiving His love is a critical experience we all need to have. Something has to change if we are going to grow in love as God has planned.
I think there are some really big reasons why the subject of loving yourself is not being addressed and I want to point them out.
Engaging Love Relationship with God
Jesus basically said, “You’ve got to love the Lord your God. You’ve got to live in love relationship and have this deep, connected relationship with all your heart, all your soul, all your might, all your strength – everything you’ve got.” You must learn to have this passionate relationship with Him.
Yet this is what we fail to realize. We cannot love God without receiving His love. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) If you’re going to be able to have a love relationship with God, you’ve got to know how to receive His love.
Loving Others As You Love Yourself
Then He said, the second part is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As yourself. As yourself. That means loving yourself is a critical component for the flow of love.
The Book of Ephesians says, “A man who loves his wife, loves himself.” But if a man hates on his wife, he hates himself. One of the reasons that we’re experiencing breakdown in marriages is because husbands don’t love themselves, wives don’t love themselves. You have two people with a lack of love for themselves coming together, either looking for the other person to give them what they’re missing, or we are spewing out the self-hate and the self-rejection that we carry because we don’t love ourselves. We make the other person the enemy and they’re the problem.
We blame our pastors, our bosses. We blame our neighbors. We blame the economy. We blame Obama. We blame Trump or Hillary or whatever it is. We don’t realize that the problem comes back to we don’t love ourselves. We don’t truly love ourselves the way that God loves us.
What I want to share is I want to share a few reasons why we don’t love ourselves. I want you to share this with your friends. I want you to pass this message around. Talk to it with your family. Get in group settings. Have a discussion about this because the Bible says it, but we’re not connecting to it. We’re not connecting to the subject.
1. You Have Never Been Taught
I think one of the biggest reasons that we struggle to love ourselves is we have never been taught, nor has it been emphasized. In fact, what I bump up against when it comes to the subject of loving yourself is religious mindsets. I’m not beating on tradition at all, but there are religious mindsets that point to things like in the scriptures where it’s translated, “In the last days men will be lovers of themselves.” When people hear loving yourself, they automatically think its speaks of the last days warning that is translated, lovers of themselves.
Religious Twisting of “Lovers of Themselves”
When the Bible warns of people being lovers of themselves, its not talking about agape love, loving yourself. That’s not what it’s talking about. It’s not saying in the last days people will love themselves and it’s dangerous. No, it speaking of a counterfeit selfishness. It’s self-consuming. That’s what we’re seeing happening in this day and age.
The frustration that you see happening in certain generations, whether it’s the Millennials, or whether it’s the teen generations, or Generation X, Y, and Z, whatever it is where you see this entitled behavior, that is because there is a lack of self-love. When you love yourself, what it does is it immediately flows out to the people around you. It does not just sit there in a container for you to be self-consuming. That’s not love. What you are seeing is a lack of self-love and now selfishness is manifesting; along with self-seeking and self-ambition.
What we’re seeing in the generations of a lack of where there’s entitlement, where there is rebellion, it’s actually a result of the love of many growing cold. We’re betraying one another. We’re only looking out for ourselves. We’re only looking at what we can get out of it. We’re having these divisions in relationships so when a problem happens.
Do you notice when problems happen with groups of people – families, churches – the end result is separation instead of growing together? Why? Because we don’t love ourselves, so we have nothing to give when it comes to conflict. We have nothing to give in the relationship because we’re coming out of an empty tank. We haven’t received God’s love.
Not Feeling Close to God
Probably one of the biggest struggles that I hear from people – they’ve come to me for years and decades, even back in 20 years ago when I was a youth pastor – the battle of people going, “I don’t feel close to God.” They’re like, “I need to love Him and love Him.” What they do is is they get into more drivenness. They get into more sacrifice and more performance and religious duty. They think subconsciously, “Somewhere over the rainbow, I’m going to feel closer to Him by the stuff that I do.”
That’s not what happens. We love Him because He first loved us. We loved Him because He first loved us. We have to first receive His love for us to be able to love Him back because He is love. God is love. He is the very essence of love. We have to lay aside performance. Lay aside this striving that we get into and learn to receive. Now, you can’t receive unless you make time to tend to your heart. It was not taught to us the importance of loving ourselves.
I remember when I was a teenager I was visiting a church and I heard the pastor say this. He said, “We don’t need to learn to love ourselves because we all love ourselves. We do it all the time. We’re always looking out for ourselves. We’re very selfish.” See, it was very telling because to that pastor, loving yourself means you’re selfish.
In fact, I don’t think that the translation, “In the last days lovers of themselves will arise,” is the best way to communicate it because that’s not what it’s saying. It’s saying where what should flow out has now turned inward into survival. That’s not what self-love does. Self-love brings you to peace with yourself. It brings you to peace with where you’re at. It accepts you where you’re at in your state – good, bad, and ugly. Then it empowers you to move into choice and to decision of what is possible because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts.
Loving Yourself to Heal Disappointment
You know the Bible says, “Hope never disappoints.” So many people right now are struggling with disappointment. They’re struggling with discouragement. Why? Because hope is being messed with in their life. What does hope stand on? Hope stands on the love of God. It stands on love. Love empowers hope. You have no hope if there’s no love. You understand that? You have no faith if there’s no hope because faith is the substance of things hoped for. Faith builds itself on your hope, on what you see on your divine vision. If your vision is struggling, if you’re discouraged, you don’t have a faith deficit, you have a love deficit.
Love needs to be filled. How do you fill your love capacity? By receiving God’s love and acknowledging the importance of love for yourself. Learning to love yourself says, “Yes and amen,” to what God says about you because He loves you and He’s not beating you up. He’s not sitting there hitting you over the head over your struggles.
He’s loving you and accepting you because love carries the capacity for transformation. It carries the capacity for you to be empowered in decision, that you have the ability to choose. You have the ability to make a choice. You have the ability to say, “I can overcome in the situations I’m in.” Love empowers you to overcome. I think the first reason we struggle with loving ourselves is we’ve not been taught. We’ve not been trained and equipped.
2. Culture is Moving in the Opposite Direction
Here’s a second thing. The second reason that we struggle to love ourselves is culturally in our families, in our churches, it’s moving in the opposite direction. We’re moving in the opposite place. How many people do I interact with that are so burned out right now? You’re burned out. You’re struggling. You’re frustrated. You’re in a place where you’re giving, giving, giving, giving, giving. You’re involved in ministry. You’re involved in helping people. You’re involved in pouring yourself out to others. You’re neglecting loving yourself.
In order to love yourself, you have to make time for yourself to be with God, to be alone and allow the solitude of peace to restore you. The Psalms talks about how the Lord is our Shepherd and He leads us beside the still waters. He restores us. He leads us in paths of righteousness. He leads us beside still waters. There’s a constant, daily restoration of what you pour out being filled. How many of you out there, you’re pouring out, but you’re not being filled? Pouring out, but not being filled. Pouring out, but not being filled. You’re capacity of what’s going out does not match the capacity of what’s coming in.
Ignoring the Subject of Loving Yourself
I’m sorry, church, we are living in an ungodly culture where we don’t care about the life of the heart of people because we have success. We have the agenda of what’s next. We have the next program, the next thing. I think sometimes it would be good to just shut down our programs and go, “You know what? We’re going to invest in the life of healing our hearts so we can hear from God.” Because what’s the point of doing anything if our capacity of love is severely damaged? We’re just spinning in circles and we’re wondering why God isn’t showing up in the way He’s showing up, the way He wants to show up.
Jesus called it when He was here. He said, “You know, I’d love to speak to you, but your ears can’t hear. I’d love to touch you and heal your hearts, but your hearts are hardened.” Because there is an inability for your heart to receive, to hear, because we haven’t set the grid and capacity for the word of God, for how God thinks, for His love to have residence in our hearts and our lives. Even when we talk about this, religiousness kicks up and we think, “I’ve got to pray more, I’ve got to,” and we get into these modes of doing, doing, doing, doing and we don’t know how to receive.
I’m starting to call this the Mother Theresa Syndrome. Mother Theresa, when you think of sacrificial giving, you think of her and what she gave. I honor that and I respect that. Then they brought out her diaries when she passed away and you read of the struggle, the internal struggles she had about really receiving the love of God.
Losing Your Identity to a Role
I’ve talked to countless pastors and leaders that are struggling in their daily life to be loved in who they are and their identity as sons and daughters. Oh, they feel affirmation in their role because when they preach good or teach good, or when your business is doing well, or when this and that is going well, and you feel successful, then you feel validated. You get a counterfeit sense of love. You’re not tending and you’re ignoring the identity of who you really are.
We don’t know how to love ourselves because we’re lost in our roles. We’re not centered in our identity. Your identity is not being a husband, wife, father, mother, pastor, church leader, business owner, entrepreneur, congressman, president, senator, committee leader, deacon, elder – whatever it is. That’s not your identity. It’s a role. It’s a responsibility. Your core identity is a son, is a daughter. You bring that identity into each role that you step into.
Those roles become empowered not when you perform better. Those roles become empowered when you become more confident as a loved son and daughter and you bring your whole self to the table, filled in God, loved by God, to the transaction. That’s the most powerful place to live, but we’re in a very hypocritical position because we are striving for success, but we’re not tending to what’s most important and that’s the life of our heart.
Here’s what happens and this drives me nuts. Somebody has a breakdown. Somebody starts getting sick. Their body’s breaking down. They have some kind of moral breakdown where the burnout is causing addictions, causing some kind of sexual addiction or sexual misconduct. This is what the church does. We go, “Oh my goodness.” Then we start saying things like, “Oh, we need to start having better morality. We need to start having higher standards.”
No, no, no. We need to start tending to the life of the heart because when love doesn’t have its work in the heart, the heart will look for counterfeits. The heart will look for things that we shouldn’t because it’s not been filled with the Father’s love and affection for us. Therefore, we will turn to things we would never want to turn to, but because we’re empty, we’re now searching for those things.
Loving Yourself into Change
Then we start breaking down in our health and nutritionally we start breaking down. Then we hate the weight that we’re at, but we’re just stuck in cycles because really we’re trying to get out of our nutritional struggles and our weight issues because we don’t love ourselves and we’re beating ourselves up over it. We’re not loving ourselves where we’re at, accepting ourselves where we’re at, and going, “Okay. What does it look like for me to love myself from now on, and how I take care of my body, and how I take care of myself? What does exercise/nutrition look like if I truly love myself?”
Because most of us live in a self-hate cycle. You hate where you’re at. You hate on yourself. Then you try to perform your way out and you burn out. Then you get back in self-hating. You just stay in the cycle over and over again. Nothing changes because love has to land in your heart. There has to be a new standard that says, “No, I’m going to love myself into change.”
Otherwise – I hear this all the time – people burn out, right? Most people are living in perpetual burnout, by-the-way. People burn out and people around them go, “Oh, you need to take care of yourself,” when no one in culture is doing that. No one’s setting the standard for that. No one’s sitting down and having discussions and saying, “You know what? How’s the life of your heart?” You want to have an awkward conversation with people just ask them how’s the life of your heart. They’ll either say, “I don’t know,” or they’ll give you the sob story of a lifetime because they’re manifesting years, months, decades of not tending to the love issue in their heart.
Folks, what you need is you need love. You need to be stabilized in love. I’m going to keep shouting this, yelling it. I’m going to keep declaring it until we start paying attention to it. Because the Father is wanting to come and heal your heart today. Because what you lack is not a faith lack. Your hope is discouraged because the love of God that’s been shed abroad needs to have its impact in your heart so that you know your love today.
It’s your problem. Your problem is you need to know you’re loved. When you’re in a position where you can’t feel it from God and you can’t feel it from people around you, the mistake that we go is we go trying to chase people. We get mad at them because they’re not loving us in what we need. They’re not the solution. We have to begin learning to receive it from God.
Say Yes to God’s Love and Receive
One of the first things I can do to sense it more from God is to say, “Yes and amen,” and to love myself. “God, I choose to love myself the way that You love me. I choose to declare it all day long: I love myself. I love myself. That’s not arrogance. It’s not pride. I love myself because You love me.” I’m going to start caring for this temple. I’m going to start caring for my heart because out of the heart flows all the issues of life. Everything flows out of it.
You don’t have a successful, long-term health wholeness and sanity in your life by just getting smarter in your brain because we’re so sophisticated. We’re so super smart, but we are heart dumb. Really smart in the brain. We’ve got a lot of information that we can shout out. The smarter people are getting, the more they’re becoming atheistic, and more distant, and more man-centered, and more man-reliant. We’re becoming cold in love. We’re becoming very cold in our relationships with each other.
We’re becoming what the Bible terms, “lovers of themselves,” but it’s really what it speaks of is a selfish, entitled, self-consumed, “I’m surviving for myself and I’m looking out for number one. It’s me and you’re not included in that.” That’s the end-days plague that we’re entering into, that we’re seeing manifested, that we’re getting frustrated with it. We’re giving the wrong anecdote for it. The anecdote is learning to love yourself.
3. We Have No References
One, I think we haven’t been taught. Two, our cultural references are moving in the opposite direction. Third, I think is a major problem, is we have no true references. You have no models around you for what it looks like to live and be at peace with yourself. I’m praying that as people get this book, as people get the teaching on this, as people begin to understand the power of this message, we’ll start pioneering and creating references for what does healthy, self-love, loving yourself look like? What can we begin to show is counterfeit, what we show is not of God, what we can begin to help people move into a place of health? Because I can only love you out of the capacity of love I’ve received.
The apostles said that, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, I give to you.” It shows you something of the kingdom. For many of you, you’ve lived on fumes. You’ve lived on spiritual grace fumes. What do I mean by that? I mean you go out and you pray for someone. You go out and help someone. You go out and teach. Your gifts, what God’s put inside you, those are grace gifts. Those things will operate whether you tend to your heart or not.
That’s why we get over-impressed with success sometimes with what we see. Those are God’s grace gifts in operation. They will operate powerfully whether you tend to your heart or not. Do you understand that? You don’t even have to have a life of character and your gifts will still operate. The Bible says that, “Gifts and callings are without repentance.” In other words, you can live as goofy of a life as you want and God will still operate through you.
The priority is you want to carry a heart capacity that won’t sabotage the gift of God in the long-term. This is what we need to start paying attention to more than ever is an emphasis on character matters, the life of the heart matters, and tending to the heart matters. We need to deepen our connection, deepen our relationship by dealing with facing the pain of our lives and letting love have its work and develop the new references.
4. There is a Resistance
Another reason that’s very challenging to love yourself is there’s a resistance. The moment you delve into the subject, you feel a resistance. Sometimes people describe it as a plexiglass wall on their chest. It’s like you feel this, “Ugh.” You feel an uncomfortability or you feel of a sense, “Oh man, this is awkward.” For most people, they might get religious and go, “I don’t want to be selfish,” or whatever they kind of say. Really, it’s an emotional uncomfortability. It’s a discomfort because we have no references when we try to engage it.
I have people do a simple exercise. I tell them put their hand over their heart. I want you to say this. Say, “God, do you love me,” and, “I love myself.” How does that feel? Does that feel comfortable? Do you feel comfortable saying that? Can you connect to that? Most people can’t. When they say, “God, do you love me,” it’s just up here. They can’t access it. That’s the resistance. When they say, “I love myself,” most people just squirm. Some people can’t even get the sentence out.
Why? Because there’s resistance. That emotion identifies the enemy block to keep you separated. That’s why Paul the Apostle said, “I’m convinced nothing will separate me from the love of God.” Or some translations say, “I’m persuaded.” Paul was convinced. He was persuaded. You need to be convinced. You need to be persuaded. You need to move from a theory to being fully convinced nothing will separate you from His love.
The War Against Yourself
The way that we do that is begin acknowledging it and doing war and doing business with the stuff that wars against us. I’ll tell you, if you struggle with loving yourself, I’ll tell you what’s in the midst: self-hate, self-condemnation, self-accusation, self-rejection. All these areas to keep you at war with yourself – they are thought systems sent by the enemy. They’re not of God. They need to be discerned and they need to be cast down, as the scriptures say, “Taking every thought in captivity.”
The problem is is we’re not just talking about one thought or thoughts back-to-back. We’re talking cocktail mixture, spiderwebs of thought that we need to start pulling out. Some of you watching this need to start just yanking out these areas and going, “Enough is enough. I’m going to love myself.”
You could sit there all day and try to break down all the thoughts you struggle with. I tell you the one domino that starts to push all those things and knock them over is when you make a decision: “Doggone it, I’m going to start loving myself the way that God loves me. I’m sick and tired of beating myself up. I’m sick and tired of being my own worst enemy. I’m sick and tired of listening to the noise all day long.”
Studies have been done that says that 80% to 90% of your self-talk – that’s the noise that’s going on in your head all day long, about 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts going through your being all day long – that about 80-90% of that is negative, toxic, and destructive to you. Folks, when are we going to get an understanding that’s your enemy talking to you? Giving you thoughts to tear you down, to make you feel unworthy, discouraged, unloved.
When is the church going to rise up, say, “Enough is enough; I’m going to be a loved child of God; I’m going to love myself and I’m going to love people the way that I love myself”? When are we going to rise up and start saying, “I’m going to love my wife the way that God loves me and I’m going to love myself”?
Loving Yourself into Breakthrough
Husbands, are we going to rise up and say, “You know what, I’m going to break through the hate that’s been in my generation”? Where your dads or your grandfathers all treated their wives with disrespect and you’re going to change it because you’re going to rise up and say, “No, I’m going to love myself rather than hating myself and letting everyone feel the fumes of my hate.”
Ladies, when are you going to rise up and say, “You know what, I’m not just a mom; I’m not just a worker; I’m not just a businesswoman; I’m a loved daughter of the living God; My father loves me and I am going to love myself”? Do you know how many people in sessions I sit with and talk with that I spend empowering females to say, “You have value; You’re worth being loved; You’re making choices and decisions to stay in relationships, to stay in environments that tolerate abuse, that tolerate a lack of valuing you”?
Listen, when you love yourself truly and you come to grips with that, you start to ditch all those relationships that treat you like garbage, that create toxicity in your life. You don’t put up with stuff anymore because when you love yourself, you are drawn into places where that love is going to impact people’s lives and it’s going to draw you into relationships that are healthy and are whole, that are connecting to who you are. Who you are starts making way for what you want.
A lot of us, we want the greater level. We want more in our lives, but we don’t carry in us the capacity and believe in who God is inside of us to live in those domains. We stay stuck. We stay stagnant until somebody makes a decision. Love comes in to say, “You are not a victim. You have the capacity and the ability to overcome today.”
We struggle because the resistance is there. Call it what it is. Stop blaming yourself: “Well, I just stink at things.” No. You’ve got an enemy speaking to you. The thoughts just sound like they’re your own and they’re not. You’re being invaded. Wake up, because he’s coming to steal, kill, and destroy you. The more you don’t love yourself, and the more you ignore your heart, the more he’s going to withdraw the things that God wants to do in your life and block you from it.
Making a Decision to Love Yourself
I made a decision I was going to love myself. No matter what was going on, if my finances aren’t going great, I’m going to love myself. If people/relationships aren’t going great, I’m going to love myself. When times are tougher, I’m going to love myself even more. When I go to bed at night, I sleep like a baby because I’m at peace with me and peace with God. Whether people like me or not, I’m going to love myself.
If that’s the dent I can make in your life, then I’m a happy guy because I think it’s one of the predominant issues that needs to be talked about. We’re not talking about it. It’s not being spoken in churches. It’s not being spoken in our circle of friendships. It’s not being spoken in our communities. It needs to. It needs to. We ought to be experts on the love of God. Instead, we’re running from it and we’re getting distracted with all other kind of subjects and issues.
5. We Are So Afraid of Pride and Arrogance
Here’s the deal, folks. When it comes to loving ourselves, this weird thing happens where we’re afraid of being arrogant. “Well, if I love myself, I’m going to be arrogant,” because we’re so fearful that we won’t appear humble. Right? The problem is the humility you’re living is a false humility. It’s not real humility. We’re so afraid of arrogance and pride we run over in this other direction and what we do is we take on another form of pride. Do you know what that pride is? It’s a pride of resisting the love that God has for you by loving yourself in the way that He loves you.
I get fired up about this. Because I’m tired of seeing people stolen, and what God said that you’re capable of having, and that’s a capacity to be able to love yourself and live out of that love. If we have not love, it’s pointless. What’s the point of all this? What’s the point of all these things that we’re doing, that we’re trying to walk in, that we’re trying to live in unless we learn to live in love?
Tending to the Life of Love in Your Heart
The focus is tending to the life of the heart. You’ve got to make time and investment for it, to receive love from God, and then love Him out of that with gratitude and thanksgiving. Then acknowledge love for yourself all day, everyday.
Then out of that, love your neighbor and do it extravagantly. Pour out to them without any record of needing something back from them and not keeping score and getting all hung up on that stuff that we get hung up in relationships. Just out-give and out-love everyone in your life because you go back to your reservoir. The Father loves you. You love yourself.
Then when people do love you, it’s a bonus. Instead of getting goofy and weird and they go, “Hey, I just appreciate you, love you,” and you go, “That’s not me, it’s the Lord; I’m just a humble servant and glory to God,” baloney. You hate yourself. You’re not even comfortable when somebody loves on you. The next time somebody compliments you say, “Thank you.” Stop spiritualizing it and say, “Well, it’s all the Lord. It’s not me.” You’re just using that false humility and religiousness to cloud over the truth.
Learning to Receive Love
The truth is you don’t like yourself. When you like yourself, you say, “Amen,” to what God says. Because He likes you. You might as well like what He likes and He likes you, so like yourself. Let it flow out to others. Then when people love on you, someone gives you a hug, stop standing there like a telephone pole or just deflecting compliments, receive them for what they are. Appreciate them. Appreciate the people around you in your life. Appreciate what they have to give. Stop holding them to some kind of standard of what you need from them or what you expect to get from them.
Receive love from God. Love Him back. Love yourself. Flow that love out, right out. Whatever you get, just give it right out. Because I find that the more I just pour out of the love I receive, the more I just get because I start to open up the flow of love. The moment I start getting selfish and self-consumed, I create a bottleneck and that’s not love. Love is received and it flows out.
Relationship Break Down
That’s why our relationships are so complicated because we have two people or groups of people coming together that don’t love themselves. We’re in battle zone. We’re all armed up. We’ve got our swords up, our shields up. We’re fighting each other rather than the enemy. As soon as we walk in the room, we’ve got our guards up and everything, got all our pain and our hurts. It makes relationships complicated.
We don’t even hear what people are saying. We’re hearing a filter out of a hurt in our life. We’re hearing out offense and pain. We’ve not dealt with that stuff. Now the person in front of us is the problem. Folks, it goes back to loving yourself. I guarantee you you start loving yourself, it will solve about 75% of your relationship problems because you’ll start making decisions for change, to be in healthier environments. You’ll also stop getting so hung up on all the things and the people and the stuff that’s going on around you.
I’m hoping this is encouraging you. I get all fired up on this subject. It’s the agenda of the kingdom. If you do me a favor, please share this. Share this with your friends. Go to markdejesus.com, my website, and subscribe to our newsletter. My wife and I are going to be back next week to continue with our podcast show.
Share these insights because we’ve got to help change people’s lives.
We’ve got to see hearts restored in love. Until we have a grip of love and it influences everything we do, other subjects are not going to land the way they need to.
I hope you see my heart in this.
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