It is often said today…that we must love ourselves before we can be set free to love others. This is certainly the release we must seek to give our people. But no realistic human beings find it easy to love or to forgive themselves, and hence their self-acceptance must be grounded in their awareness that God accepts them in Christ. There is a sense in which the strongest self-love that we can have, in the sense of agape, is merely the mirror image of the lively conviction we have that God loves us. There is endless talk about this in the church, but little apparent belief in it among Christians, although they may have a conscious complacency which conceals the subconscious despair which Kierkegaard calls ‘the sickness unto death.’
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal
I wonder how effective we are at helping people to experience the deep love God has toward them in Christ?
If Tim Keller is right that flourishing and effective congregational ministry can only happen where people repeatedly encounter and experience the love of God in the gospel, then surely this has to be at the heart of the church’s ministry.
Moreover, this communication of God’s love for us has to be married with the Christian virtue of self-acceptance. Self-acceptance isn’t a virtue in our society. We favor self-improvement–you can make yourself into anything you want to be if you only try hard enough, buy and use the right product, and surround yourself with the right people.
Self-acceptance means coming to the place where you’re able to accept yourself as you are. You can only get there through coming to accept God’s unconditional electing love that chose you just as you are not on the basis of your idealized self or even your future self. No. God saved you because he loves you. And he loves you because he saved you. File that under the category of “mystery.”
5 Replies to “The virtue of self-acceptance”
Thank you for another excellent article! I don’t know if my new email address got to you. If you would send these posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org.,then it makes it easier for me to share them w/ others. I am actually trying to move all of my emails to that new address.
I’ll check on your email. In the meantime, can you enter your new address into the subscription field on the right of the blog?
IDK, Jeff. I run into some people who cannot accept themselves, no matter what. But I also run into many others who take the opposite approach that “I am what I am, deal with it”. For this reason I speak more of love than acceptance (because acceptance can too easily be taken wrongly by the second group). You are loved, and you are loved so much that God wants the best for you, and you’re not there yet.
Great thoughts Suzanne. Thanks for commenting.
An answer from an expert! Thanks for cotgiibunrnt.