Accepting Yourself is Biblical. From Matthew, we read, “An expert in the law tested Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, ‘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'” (Mt 22:37-39).
Biblically, the first and primary obligation for a follower of Christ is to love God with your entire being. In this way, God demonstrates to you the nature and meaning of His love both experientially and factually. God equips and empowers you to love Him by loving you (1 Jn 4:19); at the same time, you are equipped and empowered to love, or accept, yourself in the same way God loves and accepts you, reflecting his total and unqualified acceptance of who you are as his beloved creation. And as you are empowered for this manner of acceptance of yourself, you are thereby empowered to love and accept others.
This open, unqualified, unrestricted agape love is neither narcissistic nor emotional. Rather, it is a conscious and rational decision to act and behave in a loving way toward God, toward yourself and toward others.
This manner of love, which the Apostle Paul describes more fully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, can be understood as loving acceptance or grace. The first and second command-ments of Matthew 22, therefore, might be paraphrased this way: “Acknowledge and embrace God with your full and unqualified acceptance; as the unique individual God has created, give this same full and unqualified acceptance to yourself, taking no credit for yourself; and give this same full and unqualified acceptance to all others, who are equally unique individuals of God’s own creation.”
Self-Acceptance Aligns You With the Reality of the Kingdom of God. To accept reality is to understand the reality of the Kingdom of God as being greater than the Kingdom of this World. Learning to be self-responsible in order to attend to your needs has a lot to do with how effective you are at accepting yourself as God’s child living, at least in part, in God’s Kingdom. As you daily accept good stewardship of your own life, God grants you the ability to accept yourself in the same way He accepts. You stop feeling powerless as you wish for things to change. You cease feeling sorry for yourself because things didn’t measure up to your expectations. Acceptance yourself for who you are, difficulties and shortcomings and flaws and all, aligns you with the reality of God’s truth of who you truly are, in Christ – a cleansed, forgiven, restored and vital person who is deeply loved by God.
You do not stop being God’s beloved just because you are depressed or unhappy or you are in pain or crisis, or even because you have sinned. By accepting God’s truth about yourself, an internal correction to reality is made, producing a clearer understanding of your relationship with God, and with others. Even if the truth is not particularly pleasant, it may yet enhance your understanding about your life and your ability to achieve creative and healing alternatives made available by God.
Self-Acceptance is Liberating. With self-acceptance, you no longer devalue or judge yourself with arbitrary or false values, but rather the eternal truths of Holy Scripture. Your evaluations of your experiences simply become descriptive of the reality of what is currently going on about you: what is, is, within the truth and realty of the Kingdom of God.
By learning to abide in His Kingdom, you are free to express what you like and what you don’t like, what you want and what you don’t want, so long as those things are consistent with God’s will and word. You can cease being influenced by those value judgments and criticisms about who you are, who others are and what you or others do. Self-acceptance detaches and frees you from your erroneous thoughts and feelings that drive your self-limiting fears and defenses. By putting those things you dread and fear to rest, one by one, you will no longer think or worry about them. By allowing God to direct your life, you are liberated from the tyranny of the ‘shoulds,’ which often serve to make the problems and difficulties of your life worse.
Self-Acceptance is For the Here and Now. When you are not resisting what happened six days, six months, or six years ago, you’re in the present. Self-acceptance allows you to enjoy the present, including being in the presence of God. Just being in the present free from worrying about the past or the future, is enjoyable. Jesus himself said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Mt 6:34). You can learn to experience and accept yourself in the here and now completely and totally.
Self-Acceptance Helps You to Transcend the Toxic Misbeliefs You Have About Yourself and Appropriate Your Newness in Christ. Paul writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation!” (2 Cor 5:17). When you accept yourself, you are able to rise above the crippling or toxic beliefs which keep you immobilized in pain and shame and confusion, doubt and anxiety and fear.
We all adopt most of our beliefs and misbeliefs, our operative truths and untruths about who we are and aren’t, from our childhood experiences, which, even in adulthood, can intrude into and misshape rational thought. Although you carry a lifetime of internal messages of deceit or denial about yourself, you also have the provision to correct them with God’s truth. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31, 32).
By being attentive to God’s word and will about yourself, you can ‘detoxify’ erroneous thoughts and feelings about yourself and others, for this is what Jesus sets you free from.
Self-Acceptance is Being Accountable and Responsible to God and to Others. When you free yourself from your excuses, you own your choices and their consequences. When you are accountable to God, you no longer need to make excuses. Excuses produce an unrewarding system in which to live, for by making excuses, you place the cause of your experience outside of yourself, thereby making yourself out to be a victim – a person whose conscious thoughts or the ability to act are limited by misbeliefs.
By becoming accountable to God and Holy Scripture, you become free to make effective and responsible choices, understanding that the causes of your thoughts and feelings are within yourself, and therefore manageable or changeable. By being accountable to God and measuring your accountability by his Word, you become free to more fully live as his true and beloved creation.
Because God cannot lie, when God Speaks, it is a True Thing. These are God’s true statements about his acceptance of you.
- You are God’s own child – John 1:12
- You are Christ’s own friend – John 15:15
- You are justified by Christ’s work on the Cross – Romans 5:1
- You are fully united with the Lord, being one spirit with Him – 1 Corinthians 6:17
- You have been bought with a price and belong to God – 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20
- You are a member of Christ’s own Body – 1 Corinthians 12:27
- You are a Saint of God – Ephesians 1:1
- You are an adopted child of God – Ephesians 1:5
- You have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 2:18
- You are fully redeemed and forgiven of all your sins – Colossians 1:14
- You are complete in Christ – Colossians 2:10
These are God’s true statements assuring your presence in his Kingdom.
- You are free from all condemnation forever – Romans 8:1, 2
- You are assured that God works all aspects of your life together for good –Romans 8:28c
- You are free from any charges of condemnation – Romans 8:31f
- You are inseparable from the love of God – Romans 8:35f
- You are established, anointed, and sealed by God – 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22
- You are hidden with Christ in God – Colossians 3:3
- You have confidence that the good work that God began in you is continually being perfected by Him – Philippians 1:6
- You are a citizen of the Kingdom of God – Philippians 3:20
- You are God’s own personal workmanship – Ephesians 2:10
- You have been given a spirit of power and love and a sound mind – 2 Timothy 1:7
- You have access to God’s grace and mercy in time of need – Hebrews 1:16
- You have been born of God, safe from the influence of the evil one – 1 John 5:1
- You are able to approach God with freedom and confidence – Ephesians 3:12
These are God’s true statements about your significance as his child.
- You are salt and light in the world – Matthew 5:13, 14
- You are a branch of Jesus, who is the one true vine – John 15:1, 5
- You are chosen and appointed to bear the fruit of the ministry of Jesus – John 15:16
- You are a personal witness to the reality of Jesus Christ – Acts 1:8
- You are God’s suitable receptacle of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 3:16
- You are a minister of reconciliation on God’s behalf – 2 Corinthians 5:17f
- You are God’s co-worker – 1 Corinthians 3:9
- You will be seated with Christ in the heavenly realm – Ephesians 2:6
- You are able to do all things through Christ, who strengthens you – Philippians 4:1