“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” – Robert Holden
“Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. To love somebody isn’t just a strong feeling. It’s a decision, a judgement, and a promise.” – Unknown Author
“We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him.” – 1 John 4:16 Amplified Bible
As Valentine’s Day fast approaches, I’ve always thought it strange that we designate a day to remind us to be loving 🙂 It’s as if we somehow can’t get through life without a scheduled “tap on the shoulder” – announcing that it’s time to honor a spouse or mate or reflect on all the loving relationships we hold close to us. So this week, I’m challenging you with some loving reminders we should never forget – some that are often given little thought or consideration. It’s my prayer that each of us will ingrain them deep within our memories and character – never allowing ourselves to forget their importance or discount the role they play in living a peaceful, contented life.
Learn to Love Yourself Every Day
I know the phrase “learn to love yourself every day” doesn’t sound very spiritual. In fact, it seems counter to the Christian culture that emphasizes living selflessly in the service of others. But hang with me for just a second so I can explain my rationale 🙂
I’m not talking about placing yourself first before others, buying a lavish, expensive gift for yourself or indulging in selfish behaviors that satisfy your own desires and passions. What I am talking about is loving yourself in such a way that you set yourself up for success in fulfilling God’s purposes for you here. A peaceful, contented, and abundant life can only be lived at the very center of God’s will and purpose for you.
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
Choosing a healthy lifestyle, eating right, and getting plenty of rest is a form of loving yourself – understanding that your body is a temple of God’s Spirit within you (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). With a healthy body, you can accomplish all that God has in store for your life!
Choose to seek God’s wisdom in each decision that crosses your path. Spending quiet time each day listening for God’s guidance or reading His Word for direction will help you make the right choices and decisions for your life.
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” – Proverbs 4:7-9 NIV
Choose to live your life within God’s principles and commandments. By doing so, you steer clear of unnecessary hardships and burdens brought on by poor choices.
“The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead.” – Proverbs 11:8 NIV
When you do make a mistake, love yourself enough to cast aside any feelings of condemnation or worthlessness. Every day, love yourself enough to seek God’s unending mercy and forgiveness – a free gift to anyone who reaches out for it. In the same respect, love yourself enough to let go of any bitterness or unforgiveness you may harbor against someone else.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37 NIV
How are you currently loving yourself? How can you learn to love yourself in a way that helps you fulfill God’s purposes for you – living a joyful, abundant life?
Learn to Love Without Condition
Valentine’s Day focuses on romantic love and the feelings we associate with it. We think about Cupid, that little angel with the magical arrows, piercing our heart and instigating our feelings of love toward another.
Our human nature places a strong focus on how we FEEL when it comes to love. Does our heart skip a beat when we see someone, are we physically attracted to them, or is there a special chemistry when we spend time with them?
More importantly, as we get to know someone, we evaluate if they are worthy of our love. My goodness, we certainly wouldn’t want to get attached to someone who doesn’t act or behave in a manner that’s acceptable to us – someone who doesn’t treat us right or possesses too many character flaws 🙂
Think about how FEELINGS of love (i.e. physical, sexual attraction, chemistry, or loving someone based on their reactions or behaviors) are really selfish and self-centered. When you think about it, we tend to be more concerned about how WE FEEL versus truly loving someone unconditionally and demonstrating that love through our own actions and behaviors.
“How do I feel (i.e. gushy, warm and fuzzy) when I’m in their presence?”
“Do I feel physically attracted to this person? ”
“Do they treat me right? Are they attentive to my needs?”
“Are they worthy of my love?”
Unfortunately, most people define love like this. Sadly, it really boils down to self-love, feeding our own ego, and fulfilling our own desires. The only person we are truly loving when we base our love on feelings alone is ourselves.
True love is based on a choice we make – not based on conditions that someone must meet in order to keep or secure our love for them. This indeed is perfect love 🙂
One of the most beautiful things about God is His unconditional love toward us. He loves us when we least deserve it. He never abandons us – even when we abandon Him. He forgives us based on who He is, not on how we behave. Unconditional love is eternal, gracious, and merciful. It isn’t forced out of obligation, but stems from an internal choice and decision that one makes about another.
Think about the power behind two people who love each other unconditionally. Their love is never dictated by how they feel in the moment, by how they are treated, or by the circumstances they find themselves in. There is no greater love than this!
In today’s society, we often discount or downplay the wedding vows that state, “To have and to hold from this day forward….for better or for worse…for richer or poorer…in sickness and in health….to love and to cherish…until death due us part.” Can you see the commitment to loving unconditionally? Can you see the power it unleashes in every loving relationship you have? Do you love the important people in your life unconditionally – absent of how they make you feel or only if they deserve your love in return?
Learn to Trust in God’s Love for You
Because of our human nature and how we define love, we tend to think about God’s love for us in the same context.
If we can’t catch a lucky break or achieve one of our greatest desires in life, we think that God must have turned His back on us – not supporting us like He should. When we make a mistake or do something we know God disapproves of, we think God withdraws His love for us because of the way we behaved or acted. Because we personally find it difficult to forgive, we assume God must feel the same way about us when we do something wrong.
We seem to only connect with a love that must be earned or deserved. We know down deep that we can easily forget about God as our day unfolds, that we do things we know we shouldn’t do, and that we often behave or have thoughts that we know God is opposed to. Because of the way we define love, we deem ourselves unlovable and assume God isn’t interested in who we are or what happens to us.
What is sad to me is that many, many people walk away from God, not because of who God is, but because they feel unworthy or inadequate – feeling like they could never match up to what God would demand of them in order to extend his love toward them and bless their life.
Have you ever felt like this? Do you doubt God’s love for you based on who you are and what you have done? Have you looked your current hardships and felt like God didn’t care about what was happening to you?
Remember, God’s love is perfect 🙂 It flows to us unconditionally and graciously every day. Nothing we do in our own power instigates or triggers it. In fact, we are incapable of ever earning it or deserving it. God loves us because of who He is – not because of who we are.
If God’s love for us is unconditional, then it is also eternal – never ending, subsiding, or diminishing in anyway. We can never be separated from it, regardless of our circumstances, our health, or any situation we face.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened by death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is our through Christ who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries for tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35 and 37-39 NLT
Learn to trust in that love no matter what is happening in your life right now 🙂
I hope these loving reminders have triggered some thought tonight. I pray that you begin loving yourself more, loving others unconditionally, and trusting in God love for you in every moment of life.