Rev. Kit Billings
May 2, 2004
“An occasional compliment is necessary, to keep up one's self-respect. When you cannot get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one.”
This morning I'd like to talk with you about an emphasis within the Two Great Commandments Christ gave us, which needs to be covered now and then—loving ourselves as part of loving the Lord and others.
The Second Great Commandment REQUIRES that we love ourselves.
So the question is, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
What does it mean to love ourselves appropriately?
Take note of WHERE the commandment to love ourselves is placed by Christ—it is the last in a series of three loves, but it is certainly included, and must be.
We should innately love ourselves.
WHY? Because of the truth given in Gen. 1:26-28. MADE IN GOD'S IMAGE & LIKENESS!
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
and crowned him with glory and honor.
Think about that. I mean really take a moment and think about that.
You have been crowned with glory from the outset!
How often do you let yourself feel this way? Not as an ego-trip, but simply personally, deeply, embracing the truth of what is…that you are immensely loveable in God's eyes as the highest creation of God's handiwork.
Swedenborg's concept of the "Four Loves" and the critical importance of how we Prioritize them.
There's everything right about loving ourselves--especially when this love is ORDERLY. If or when it rises above the love of God and others, then it begins to get hellish.
The other concept in our teachings I want to mention—that creation is formed from and within the unifying element of LOVE. The truth is, life is a Web of Love, and we are each inextricably connected to all things, to God, to the “I AM.” And it is out of this interconnectedness that a healthy, spiritual self-esteem comes as well.
TELLTALE SIGNS OF LOVING OURSELVES APPROPRIATELY
A general sense of humor--but also an ability to laugh at yourself too.
There's a story about President and Mrs. Coolidge visiting a poultry show. The guide says to Mrs. Coolidge, "You know, ma'am, the rooster here performs his services up to eight or nine times a day," to which the First Lady replied, "Please see to it that the President is given that information!"
A while later the President's party came through the same exhibit and the guide told him, "Sir, Mrs. Coolidge said to be sure to tell you that the rooster there performs his services up to eight or nine times a day." Coolidge thought for a moment and asked, "Same chicken each time?"
"No, Mr. President, different chickens each time."
"Then see to it that Mrs. Coolidge is given that information!"
I sense that President Coolidge and the First Lady back then each had some healthy self-love operating.
An ability to love others, as another, not merely as a part of yourself------OTHERS' WELL-BEING IS CLOSE TO YOUR HEART.
You have a deep concern about God.
Setting limits for yourself- - - - - living realistically.
Self-care = care for your BODY.
Spending time with yourself:
listening to music
quiet reflection and meditation
Spending time, energy and/or money to enrich your inner life: education, reading, seminars.
Maintaining healthy relationships to meet your own needs for giving, nurturing relationships, ones that are filled with LOVE, tenderness, fun, and inspiration and spirituality.
Allowing yourself to feel ALL your feelings that come from God. A sense of wholeness; a sense of BREADTH and DEPTH and of the many MANSIONS WITHIN.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU CAN THINK OF?
Then there are things that can look like appropriate self-love but aren't!
Self-indulgence - - - - - doing whatever we want when we want to do it much of the time.
Always getting our own way.
Needing to be boastful.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHERS YOU CAN THINK OF?
For me, part of the truth I come to about what a healthy sense of self is stems from the wonderful nature of our Creator.
In other words, a clue about how I may choose to look at myself is to get a sense of how the Lord looked at or felt about Himself.
In Christ, we find a person who was beautifully clear about His own identity. He knew He was the “Son of God,” or rather, God Incarnate. But He typically did not want or need to boast about it. My sense is that Jesus walked among humanity with a quiet self-dignity.
Yet when needed, He was not shy about revealing the glorious truth of who He really was—the Messiah, the Living God among us. He clearly had an incredible degree of self-confidence and self-respect. He truly knew who He was, which was Divine Love and Truth Itself, manifesting in human form…whose sole purpose was (and is!) the salvation of every human being on earth.
Yet long before Jesus entered the dramatic scene of life on earth, we are blessed to know of a miraculous discussion between the great Israelite leader, Moses, and the Lord.
As we take a brief look at this marvelous interaction between God and man, I ask you to get a sense of God's own identity and self-respect.
The Lord identifies Himself as a very caring Being, who hears the cries and suffering of others…of His people. The Lord dwells in nature, in mountain, in the trees and bushes, and perceives the ground upon which He walks as holy.
God has NO PROBLEM whatsoever with being a great leader: calling specific people into action, talking with them directly, and giving them divine orders. The Lord said to Moses, “And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
And then, perhaps most telling of all, in response to Moses' question of what name he should use in identifying God to the Egyptians, the Lord said to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.'”
Indeed, the One True God of the universe not only knows himself supremely, but also has SUCH dignity that He can say these beautifully succinct words to identify Himself: “I AM WHO I AM.”
I just love and adore God's beautiful and oh so SOLID sense of Himself, and the dignity with which He expresses it.
God hopes that we will open ourselves to a deepening throughout life of developing more and more into the "IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD."
We are meant to love God, others AND ourselves…keeping ourselves in the humble place of those who understand that we are created out of the One Uncreated Being of the universe.
May your road of discovery and growth, of learning how to bring the four major loves inside of you into angelic order go PRECISELY AS GOD INTENDS IT.
Thus, may your journey of facing and naming and discarding your inherited loves for self-alone go also, JUST AS GOD INTENDS.
We must be able to identify when we slip into the battle of narcissism, so that we can choose to shun the energy of hell (of “self-love alone”), in favor of heaven's energy and light.
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.' ”