The Bible tells us we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). . Romans 12:3 says, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (KJV) the New Living Translation (NLT) says, “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”
The loving of myself part is something I have struggled with my entire life. I have struggled with the idea of what is the difference between pride and good self-esteem. My husband has been helping me with this. He says that self-esteem is different from pride. Self-esteem is how people think about you and how you feel about yourself. Pride is a choice you make of thinking you are better than everybody else.
My Dad was so adamant about being prideful that I sometimes think that he may have had a low self-esteem problem, which I believe he passed down to me. Dad didn’t like to acknowledge accomplishments or “tooting his own horn.” Dad took Romans 12:3 to heart, especially the “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” part of the verse. He pounded that into my head when I was growing up, and I’ve always had difficulty in knowing what good, healthy, self-love was, and what was pride. My husband keeps telling me that I must love myself before I can love anyone else. He reprimands me whenever I talk negatively about myself. What I see in loving myself is that it is prideful, and I have a tough time with this. So, I’m learning something here myself.
Pride comes across as someone on an ego trip. Everything revolves around them. There’s a character in an old TV show that my husband and I like to watch, and this guy is so full of himself, there are times I can hardly stand listening to him. The other characters must take him down a peg or two occasionally, and in the end, he realizes he has a pride issue. Granted, he is a genius, but he lets that genius part of him override everything else. Sometimes he ends up with “egg on his face” and then he is humbled. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (NASB)
I am seeing that my concern with loving myself is, not to love myself in a prideful way, thinking I’m better than anyone else or come off as a know-it-all, but to love myself as God sees me, and then I can love others as He loves me. This means I shouldn’t be too critical of others if they do or say something I don’t like. I should try to look at things as they see them, kind of “putting myself in their shoes” kind of thing. I need to do as Romans says, to be honest in my evaluation of myself.
Good self-esteem should be a confident acknowledgment that we are worth loving by God. Hebrews 10:35 says, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” (ESV) We must remember that God loves us beyond what we can imagine. In fact, He tells us how He feels in Isaiah 43:4, “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.” (ESV) God loves us with an everlasting love, so we should have a good, healthy, self-love that we can then show to others. We need to evaluate ourselves honestly. Are we filled with pride, or do we have a healthy self-love?