By Hannah Childs
June 2nd, 2017
I went to a High School graduation last week, and the speaker had a captive audience in which to share the wisdom gleaned from having had few more years of experience. His message was about the acronym JOY, Jesus, Others, You. All in all a good message about loving Jesus first, then others, and yourself last (i.e., don’t be selfish).
I started pondering – given the opportunity – what would I say to a group of young (presumably Christian) adults, starting out in the world? What is the most sage advice I could give? God loves you and a story about sacrificial love, or perhaps about discovering your beautiful identity in Christ.
What would you say?
Soon after the ceremony was over, a young friend pointed out that it’s very rare to hear anything positive about self-love. We know it’s easy for people to be selfish, and the Bible warns of people being lovers of themselves in a not-good kind of way. But, that’s only part of the equation and often leaves a hole where appropriate self-love should be. What’s a good young Christian to do? Some teens (and adults) have confided in me that think they shouldn’t do things they enjoy, receive good gifts, or pursue life’s satisfying ventures because any pleasure experienced could be selfishness. They don’t know how to discern what is good self-care/self-love after repeated instruction to not be selfish.
In response to those comments, I want all the more to focus on filling people with God’s love. I want to communicate how deeply they’re loved by God (Whether they even know Him yet or not)!
Filling up with God’s love is what allows you to Love God and Love others so well. Being so full of love, combined with the power of the Holy Spirit, is what empowers us to love people who are difficult, or even hostile to the Kingdom. God can give us His eyes to see people like He does, and His heart to love.
One way to recognize how loved you are by God and what your position is in Him, is to look at all the scriptures that talk about your Identity in Christ. In summary this is what I want people (of all ages) to know and say to themselves:
I am lovable.
I am forgiven.
I am valuable.
The future is full of hope.
I can enjoy each moment.
I can love myself for who I am.
I am learning to give and receive unconditional love.
I can choose to love life and myself without comparing myself to others.
Steve Backlund (IgnitingHope.com) is doing 100 Declarations-a-day challenge for the month of June. I would encourage you to find a way to participate and remind yourself how deeply loved and valued you are. Then you will be full to overflowing with God’s love and able to pour out.
We aren’t focusing on growing a big church, but rather big people, people big enough to pour out God’s love to other’s who need to know and be reminded of His love, even in–or maybe especially in–the church.
God deeply, deeply loves You!
Forever abiding in His great love,