Self love is concerned with showing positive regard to yourself because of the worth that God has assigned to you (see Ps. 139:14).
The two chief commandments of Christian growth are to love God with all that we have and to love our neighbors, as we love ourselves. "As we love ourselves" is the focus of this article. The following are suggested ways to demonstrate self love:
1. Health Care. You need to realize that the body that you have has been purchased with a price. It doesn't belong to you. However, you are responsible for taking care of it according to passages like I Corinthians 6:19-20.
Three essentials of taking care of your body include exercising, eating properly, and going to the doctor. Before starting or intensifying your exercise routine, make sure you consult with your doctor. Given that the doctor says it is all right, make sure you have some cardio exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, or jogging.
Include some resistance exercise like lifting weights or your body weight at a level that is comfortable for you. And include some stretching exercises to keep from becoming more stiff (smile) and to perhaps regain some of the range of motion that you have lost.
Think about how Jesus was known for walking (see Mt. 4:18) and Paul compares Christians to athletes and soldiers (see I Cor. 9:26; Phil. 2:25).
As for eating properly, load up on vegetables. Try to eat more fruit and less sugar. Drink plenty of water and less sugar and alcoholic drinks. There is some merit to the dietary instructions in passages like Genesis 2:16; 9:4.
It goes without saying that smoking and drugging are killing people. So stop, if you are doing these things. And don't start, if you are not doing these things.
As for going to the doctor, in addition to going to the doctor when you think something may be wrong, make sure go for your routine physicals.
Make sure you stay on top of issues like hypertension, diabetes, prostate cancer for men, and breast cancer for women. Don't forget that Luke, the author of Luke and Acts, was also a physician (see Col. 4:14).
2. Positive Mental Attitude. You can have a well exercised and well fed body, but if your mind is filled with anxiety or depression, you still need to work on self love.
Three things that I find helpful besides avoiding and confronting negativity, which is the next major suggestion, are as follows:
- Listen to music that either has positive lyrics or no lyrics. I personally like jazz, even though I do not know many of the artists (smile - "just like a man," as my wife would say). I think I like it because there are no words, just soothing music.
I try not to make Gospel or Christian music background music. I think this has played a part in desensitizing people to quality worship on Sunday. Most church choirs cannot compete with the studio sound of commercial CDs.
- Read positive literature and watch constructive television shows and movies. The more positive you put in, the more positive you get out.
There is so much constructive material to read in the libraries and book stores and more than you and I will every digest on the internet. With just a little effort, we can saturate our minds with good things, as suggested by passages like Philippians 4:8.
- I use affirmations. There is some connection between what we say, what we think, what we do, and what happens in our lives. My daily affirmations include...
"I am happy, healthy, and focused;"
"I am a child of God;"
"Thank God for my salvation, health, education, and ability to look beyond the challenges of today;"
"God will bless me for obeying His will."
Be creative and develop your own.
3. Avoid and confront negativity. The truth is that some of the negativity that you and I deal with could be avoided. There are some people who we know are negative and we could avoid them, but we don't. There are television shows, movies, and some music that we entertain, even though we know that they are filled with negativity.
If we keep negativity out, as we work on putting positive in, it is not hard to see this is a helpful way of taking care of ourselves.
On the other hand, there will be times that we cannot avoid negativity. We will do well to confront it. It may mean talking to a co-worker about your not appreciating certain types of jokes, a relative about a nick name that doesn't fit you anymore, or even a spouse about habits that you are trying to kick.
Confrontation can be so uncomfortable, but yet sometimes it is the best response for your long term self love and care.
4. Learn how God has been working in your heritage. Every heritage can find some bad that should be avoided and some good that should provide inspiration. For example, in Black heritage, there are negatives to be avoided like selling one's people out for personal gain. There were Africans involved in the slave trade along with Europeans.
There were Black "snitches" during the period of the Underground Railroad. And the lesson to be learned is to fight the temptation of causing harm to others, in exchange for personal gain.
There are inspiring positives as well. For example, Blacks have demonstrated so much resiliency. Very few, if any, ethnic groups could have endured the terrible 247 years of slavery, almost 100 years of "Jim Crow," and then witness a Black man in the White House.
It is self nurturing and shows self love, when you learn how God has been working in your heritage. Sometimes God has been working to show us what not to do and other times what can be done.
5. Rest. The human mind and body needs rest, including yours. Some have suggested that eight hours of sleep is healthy. Others have said that a good way to see how much sleep you need is to go on a vacation and see what time you wake up without an alarm clock.
Whatever the truth may be, we can agree that four hours of sleep a night is not healthy and doesn't show self love.
Not only sleep, and sometimes thirty minute naps during the day, but weekends and vacations are helpful. Of course, there are the economics to consider. Everyone cannot afford to take two days a week off and surely cannot go away for a two week vacation.
However, your aim should be to make some time to simply relax and break your work routine. Sometimes a couple days off and staying home can do wonders.
In summary, self love can be demonstrated, by attending to health care, a positive mental attitude, avoiding and confronting negativity, learning how God has been working in your heritage, and resting.
Dr. Robert E. Baines, Jr. uses his doctorate of ministry degree and twenty years of pastoral experience to provide quality and helpful Christian living information to 1,000's of visitors a month.
Make sure you secure your free copy of his ebooklet, "How to Encourage Yourself: 21 Practical Tips," and sign up for his newsletter that features great articles, helpful devotionals, and Bible based teaching notes at www.RobertBaines.com.
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