Worthy of love

When Jesus spoke the words ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3), I don’t believe He intended to raise up the multitude who sat at His feet that day, and then those who would hear the Word, with impoverished mentalities, and beggared dispositions.

Somewhere along the line, the charge from Jesus to be ‘poor in spirit’; to humble ourselves and bow low, has been misinterpreted as to deny ourselves of who He truly created us to be.

See, humility wasn’t created for us to think less of ourselves, to brush away praise where praise is due, and shun compliment or affirmation. Humility wasn’t to silence those who were born to speak out, the strong to say they were weak, the privileged to deny their wealth and the talented to say they had no giftings.

What if, what if God really did want us to celebrate ourselves? What if He called us righteous and lovely, because He wanted us to see it in ourselves too? To celebrate rather than deny, and offer up rather than shy away. What if, by celebrating our gifting and who we are, we actually brought glory to the one who placed it within us. What if, the talented 16 year old with the a* record, came out of exam and told his friends he’d done a good job, or the wife who is told by her husband each day that she is beautiful, starts to believe it for herself rather than brushing it off, or telling him otherwise.

C.S Lewis wrote that humility is not thinking less of ourselves, instead, it’s thinking of ourselves less. It’s understanding that while it’s nothing about us, it doesn’t mean we make nothing of ourselves.

See, God’s willing to do something with us, in fact, He’s already done something. The problem is, we keep stumbling over where we’ve come from. We long for more, and we petition heaven’s gates for it, yet when we get handed something of heaven, we stand much like Moses in the presence of the most high, and ask Him, the one who has given us the call, ‘Who am I?’, when the call from God is never dependant on who we are in the first place, it’s who He is, and who He’s making us to be.

What if we understood that the gifts within us were so clearly born from God, that we chose to partner with what He’d given us, rather than spend our lives waging war against it, or worrying whether we look over confident or arrogant.

See, the truth is, it’s not about us anyway. Humility that’s not rooted to the person of Jesus Christ is false humility. At some point we’ve spiritualised our low self-esteem, and in doing so,  we are thwarted from reaching our full potential because it compromises our future.

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In Ezekiel 1, an appearance in likeness to the glory of the Lord falls before Ezekiel and catching a glimpse, Ezekiel falls to his face. Similarly when a hand touches Daniel, (Daniel 10:11)  trembling  he falls to his knees and on the palm of his hands, and in Acts, (Acts 26:16) Saul is struck by the glory of the Lord, and falls to the ground.

After all these encounters, where, in the presence of the Lord all men were brought low, and to their knees, a command followed for them to get up and stand on their feet. ‘He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” Ezekiel 2:1.

Reverence is vital, but not at the cost of readiness. Sometimes we fail to hear the call to stand up, and as a result we miss God’s best intention . God wants us to humble ourselves, it’s humble vessels who He can move most easily but, He wants us to stoop low, and stand tall. Usually, we’re doing either or.

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What if, the church loved themselves, and what if they really knew who they were? What if the church stood tall, but in humility. What if were not only good stewards of time and money but our talents, and the beauty He has placed within us. What if we took the book He has handed us literally and believed we were more than conquerers, His treasured possession, and a royal priesthood. What if we brought honour to the master potter, to the painter, author and creator by celebrating the masterpiece, the workmanship, the story and the creation. That’s you by the way.

We don’t love ourselves because we find things to love, we love ourselves because of who He says you are.  We don’t have to search for what is lovely within us, because we understand we have been made lovely. We don’t think too highly of ourselves, like Paul charges in Romans 12:3, and we avoid this because we love ourselves because of who Jesus has made us to be. Paul goes on to say ‘think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”. How we see ourselves is in proportion to our faith. This is because we believe who we are to the extent we believe in who He has said we are.

We must free ourselves from a view of ourselves that is built upon anything but the person of Jesus. Through denying who you are, it does not in anyway make God higher. You are not a threat to God, and neither have you ever been a threat to God. We were built for greatness, and we need to understand that we can be humble and great. We don’t fight for love, we fight from it. 

Knowing who we are, means we love who we are. It is no longer okay to deny the goodness and the good works of God in your life.

What if we could love all the better for loving ourselves? In Mark 12:31, Jesus wrote, ‘Love you neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’ This verse is mentioned 8 times in the the bible, which probably means Jesus wanted us to pay attention to it.

What if Jesus was suggesting that we could love others more effectively because of the love that we have for ourselves? Because giving something away comes only to the extent that we have received it for ourselves.

People who are self-critical, speak negatively of themselves, or holds low opinion of themselves, probably means that’s how they think about others, or view others. If you hold a high opinion of yourself, you will end up holding a high opinion of those around you. Therefore, this verse implies, that if you don’t love yourself. you won’t effectively love those around you.

Jesus needs us to love the world to the extent that we love ourselves. That’s what Mark 12 is saying. Jesus could have inserted anything here. Love your neighbour more than money or possessions, but He wrote us. He wrote us because He knew and expected us to love ourselves much and so He entrusted us to receive His love, to love ourselves, to love others.

Imagine if the standards you placed on your own life, became applicable to those you saw on the street or at the homeless shelter. Imagine if the pride you took in making yourself presentable, having clean clothes, brushing your teeth, was the extent to which you felt and desired the homeless guy outside the tesco to have, or the mum of four who walks up and down your road each day asking for money. Imagine if the need to feed the hungry was as pressing as the need to feed yourself. What if you felt for them what He felt, what if you loved them how truly He intended you to love them, and you loved them because you loved yourself. What if we begun to see a girl working in a brothel, table dancing in a club, and standing on a street scantily clad, as abnormal, as if we were to find ourselves there. Imagine if we felt the need for others to know the freedom of our Saviour as much as we have claimed it for ourselves.

And, what if…what if the need to feed the poor, and clothe the feeble and give strength and a voice the enslaved was never born out of pity, or need but because they were worthy. 

We’d fight. We’d fight greater for justice, for their rights. We’d make sure the corners of the earth were covered and we’d go. We wouldn’t just be touched, we’d be affected, we wouldn’t just pray, we’d petition.

See, He needs you to love, you. He needs you to love yourself to love others. He calls you to shake off your dust, rise up and sit enthroned, and free yourself from the chains around yourself, before you can do the same to others.

He has nations for you, He has an inheritance for you, He has a calling for you, and a destiny; if only you knew, if only you knew you were worthy of love.

Megan Landreth-Smith