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To love one’s self well

Thomas a’Kempis, 13th century theologian and author of “The Imitation of Christ,” beautifully asserts, “Indeed, by loving myself badly I lost myself; by seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to nothing.”
With this in mind, how do Christians love themselves well? Frequently, we aspire towards the Sunday school moniker “Christ first, others second, ourselves third.” While correct, it is only with a proper love of ourselves that we can accurately apply this statement. If we love ourselves badly, even with the intent to love Christ and others in our place, we unknowingly center ourselves in the Gospel. A bad love of ourselves is a selfish love. Instead of the intended first, Christ, then others, and finally ourselves, a perverted love expresses: “My Christ, my others, and myself.”
Then what does it truly mean to love ourselves well? Ultimately, it is to love ourselves as God was loved. As Thomas says, “…by seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to nothing.” In constantly seeking and loving Christ, we humble ourselves as He was humbled And in humility, we come to love ourselves well.
David says in  Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV). If we love ourselves badly, this verse is music to our ears: if I love God, he will give me everything I desire. This is loving my God, not the God. David’s statement is only true when we first love ourselves well: we delight in the Lord, seeking and loving Him, and are then humbled. In humility, His desires become our desires. It is no longer our will, but His. Correctly loving ourselves is dying to ourselves, taking us out of the picture and replacing it with Christ. Only then, in reducing ourselves more profoundly to nothing, can we appropriately apply our Sunday school proverb: “Christ first, others second, ourselves third.”
Place value in yourself through Christ.

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