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We understand our call to love others. In fact, we’re often willing to sacrifice ourselves for their happiness. It then leaves us frustrated when all our noble efforts still seem ineffective. Often the path to loving others well is first loving ourselves.

To be sure, we don’t want to be selfish – just concerned about our own wellbeing while neglecting the interest of others. But this doesn’t mean we neglect ourselves as we focus on others. We’re to do both. And often we must start with our own self-respect.

Implicit in the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves is that we do love ourselves well. We’re to extend to others the same level of intentional care we give ourselves. But this becomes difficult, if not impossible, when we disrespect, look down on, or simply neglect our own body and soul.

For instance, we cannot fully give ourselves to our wife sexually when we’re not at peace in our own bodies. And merely focusing on her pleasure, while noble, only creates a greater disconnect within ourselves. In time, we become impotent – leaving us both frustrated and dissatisfied.

Learning how to care for and bless our own body and inner world allows us to then give ourselves as a gift to our wife. And this can be as simple as enjoying a hot shower, a good meal, or a weekend getaway. Whatever it looks like, we’re in a better position to love our wife as we learn to care for ourselves in big and small ways.

Of course, part of loving ourselves well is remembering that God first loved us. He’s the one who crafted us the way he did. And so, self-love in many ways is just agreeing with God to honor and care for ourselves as part of his good creation.

In the end, you cannot love others well when you’re dishonoring yourself. Remember to love who God created you to be, as this opens the door to bring this same intentional love to others.

Photo by Julien Lanoy on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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