Portions taken from Joyce Meyer Devotional
Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are many people, including many Christians, who really have a hard time accepting themselves. I surely did! Self-acceptance is very important because the way we feel about ourselves greatly affects our success in life and in our relationships. I have found that the key to developing a healthy self-image, or good “inner picture” of ourselves, is not based on our perfect performance—it’s based on God’s view of us. In order to truly succeed at being ourselves, we need to begin seeing ourselves the way God sees us—through the eyes of unconditional love.
Webster’s II New College Dictionary defines the word accept in part as: “to receive (something offered), especially willingly; to consider as usual, proper, or right; to consider as true.” Notice from this definition that to accept something involves the will. How does this apply to self-acceptance? It means that you and I have the option to accept or reject ourselves. Usually, if we reject ourselves, it’s because we see ourselves as wrong—we’re focused almost entirely on our flaws and weaknesses, giving little or no attention to our beauty and strengths. This is an unbalanced attitude, one that was probably instilled by authority figures in the past that constantly pointed out what was weak and wrong rather than what was right and strong. Rejecting ourselves doesn’t change us; it actually multiplies our problems. Accepting ourselves, on the other hand, causes us to face reality and then begin to deal with it. When we choose to accept ourselves, we see ourselves as being proper and right—even in the midst of things that need to be changed.
The word acceptance is defined in part as “approval” or “agreement.” If we are having problems accepting ourselves, then we need to get into agreement with God. And the way we get into agreement with God is to agree with His viewpoints. To walk with God, we must agree with God. Whatever He says about us, we can and should say about ourselves. One of my freeing moments in my journey with God is when I heard Him say – “Kori, Just walk with me. We will figure things out along the way.”
Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely.” And, in Jeremiah 1:5 God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you [as My chosen instrument]”…. So, if we’re going to agree with God, then we need to agree with what He said. If He says that what He made is good and He approves of us, we can no longer hate and reject ourselves. If He approves of us, we can approve of ourselves. Again, whatever God says about us, we can and should say about us.
Now, I realize that everything we do is not always good, but what we DO is different than WHO we are. We will have our flaws that need to be worked through, but He does always love and accept us because we’re in Christ. God can and will change those rough edges that need fixing. But in the meantime, He accepts us where we are, and we need to learn to do the same.
Believing In and Receiving God’s Love
One of the first things God taught me about self—acceptance is that we have to have peace with Him—we must believe that God loves us unconditionally and then receive His love daily. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (NIV).” In other words, God doesn’t wait until you and I are perfect to love us—He loves us unconditionally and completely at all times. Psalm 139 says that God knows our thoughts before we think them, our words before we speak them, and has all the days of our lives written in His book before they ever take place (see verses 2,4,16). This means He knows all of our weaknesses and every mistake we’ll ever make. Yet, He STILL loves us. Wow!
How does it work?
Years ago, when I had a hard time believing God loved me, He taught me to say out loud, “God loves me and accepts me, and I receive His love for me.” When I did something wrong, I’d ask God to forgive me, and then I’d say, “Thank You, Father, for forgiving me and loving me. I receive your love for me right now. In Jesus’ name, amen.” As we receive His love, we have His love in us. At this point, we can begin loving ourselves. We can also begin giving love back to Him and to others.
We Cannot Give Away What We Don’t Have
Why is it so important to be at peace with God, receive His love, and accept ourselves? Because if we don’t, we won’t have anything to give to others. We can’t give away what we don’t have. How can you offer unconditional, true love if you’ve never known it?
For years, as a young believer, I heard sermons about the importance of Christians loving each other, and I sincerely tried to walk in love, but I failed continually. I had heard with my ears that God loved me, but I had not believed it personally because I felt so flawed.. I was desperately attempting to display loving behavior, but I had failed to receive God’s love. So I couldn’t give genuine love away because I didn’t have any to give.
Searching for answers to my problems, I came across Galatians 5:14. It says, “For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.” That was my problem—I didn’t love myself. Up until that point, I didn’t even like myself, let alone love myself. Instead, I was very hard on myself and had unrealistic expectations of how I should be.
Thankfully, I learned what I’m sharing with you today. God wants us to love ourselves!. He wants us to agree with Him that in Christ, we are made righteous, and He loves us just as we are (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Yes, we may have faults and weaknesses as a result of the unfortunate experiences we’ve gone through and poor choices we’ve made, but that doesn’t mean we’re worthless.
The kind of love God wants us to have for ourselves is the kind that says, “I can love what God can love. I don’t love everything I do, but I accept myself because God accepts me.” In spite of our weaknesses, we can say, “I know I need to change, and I want to change. In fact, I believe God is changing me right now (see 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV). But in the meantime, I will not reject what God accepts. I will accept myself as I am right now, knowing that He is still working on me!”
I challenge you to accept God’s love for you and make it the basis for loving and accepting yourself. Receive His approval, knowing that you’re changing and becoming all that He desires you to be. Then start enjoying yourself—right where you are—on the way to becoming a better YOU.
Lord, I do struggle with accepting myself and letting go of hurt, but I know you accept me and love me even with my scars and failures. Help me learn to accept myself and to trust you more. Help me to understand that I am a work in progress and you are big enough to handle all my issues. Thank you for loving me where I am and for challenging me to a deeper walk with you. Amen
Disclaimer – Please don’t allow anyone – not even us – to dictate your walk with Christ. When you stand before the Lord – you will stand before Him alone. You, alone, will be accountable for your actions. It’s a serious responsibility. So dig into the Bible for yourself and challenge your heart to find the truth – not YOUR truth but God’s truth for you. The Word says to seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.