Dear Church Family,
What person outside of the Trinity loves you most on this earth? Your spouse? Your mom? Your child? Maybe your pastor?
In one sense, the answer is you. You love you more than anyone on this earth and what may be even more shocking is that this is God’s good design. Of course our sin twists and perverts this design into pride, selfishness, and arrogance—but that doesn’t diminish God’s goodness in creating us this way.
We love ourselves by seeking what we think is best for us. Again, of course what we think is best for us is not always what is actually best for us—but that doesn’t change our ultimate aim for ourselves.
Let’s think about the Scriptural command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39; Galatians 5:14; cf. Ephesians 5:28-30) which is used in conjunction with loving the Lord with all that we are as the summary fulfillment of the entire law. Isn’t it interesting that this command is not being used to say that loving yourself is a bad thing, but that our love for ourselves should be the gauge by which we measure our love for others?
Just for the sake of clarity, I am in no way talking about “self-esteem.” We are not to consider ourselves more highly that we ought to think (Romans 12:3), but in humility, to count others as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We now find our worth and identity in Christ and not in ourselves.
So how does this idea fit with Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:4-5 when he says, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another”? In the context of the covenant community known as the local church, we love ourselves by loving one another and we love one another by loving ourselves.
Now when I say “love”, I mean seeking what is best. What is best? The Lord’s will. How do we know the Lord’s will? Through His Word. How do we obey His Word? Through His Spirit. This is the process known as sanctification; that is, being made holy.
In light of this, it is necessary for us to realize that if we are not fighting for our own holiness, we are not truly loving ourselves or one another. And if we are not fighting for one another’s holiness, we are not truly loving them or ourselves. Do you hear what I am saying? If you are a member of this church, my holiness is your business and your holiness is my business. If I am not fighting for holiness, I am hurting myself and this church. If I am not fighting for your holiness, I am hurting myself and this church. But if we will fight for holiness personally and corporately, we will truly love as God has designed us to love—as His new creation.