Loving Ourselves

I was talking with a new acquaintance (not a Seventh-day Adventist) and we were sharing things of common interest to us. He talked a book he was currently reading where the author talks about narcissism or the love of self in its most positive light. The author’s approach was to look at self-love from a scale of 1-10 in which both extremes ought to be avoided.

On one extreme, a narcissistic person of the 8-10 scale may love himself too much so that he makes himself the center of the universe and tries to order everything to his own advantage and pleasure. The other extreme is the person of the 103 scale who deprives himself of every pleasure and benefit and may even physically mortify himself in order to find meaning and significance in life.

We need to go the way of the golden mean, the person of the 4-7 scale who loves himself just right. He doesn’t love himself too much in the sense that he esteems himself more highly than others; nor does he hate himself to a point where he sees himself only as trash. With this in mind, we can better understand the words of Jesus when He gave us the command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). For there is no way we can really love our neighbor if we have not truly loved ourselves in the first place. And when we read something about hating father or mother, wife or children, brothers and sisters or our own lives (Luke 14:26), the texts simply mean not to “hate” but to “love less”. This is where the median 4-7 scale love of self comes in instead of the 8-10 scale extreme self-love.

We must love ourselves appropriately. EG White says that the value of a soul can only be measured by the price that was paid by Christ on the cross of Calvary. We are so precious Christ paid with His blood to set us free. And when we think of what the apostle Paul said that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and a dwelling place of God, we cannot help but love ourselves truly and even reverence them because of the value heaven has placed on them.

The Ant and the Leaf

A man sat in his balcony enjoying the sunshine and his coffee when a little ant caught his eye. It was carrying a big leaf several times more than its size. He saw that the ant faced many obstacles during its journey.

At one point the tiny creature came across a crack in the floor. It paused for a little while, analyzed…and then laid the huge leaf over the crack, walked over the leaf, picked the leaf on the other side then continued it’s journey.

The man was captivated by the cleverness of the ant. In front of his eyes there was this tiny creature of God, lacking in size yet equipped with a brain to analyze, contemplate, reason, explore, discover and overcome.

But along with all these capabilities, the man also noticed that this tiny creature shared some human shortcomings. An hour later the creature had reached its destination – a tiny hole in the floor which was the entrance to its underground dwelling. It was at this point that the ant’s shortcoming was revealed. How could the ant carry into the tiny hole the large leaf that it had managed to carefully bring to the destination? It simply couldn’t! So the tiny creature, after all the painstaking and hard work and great skills exercised, overcoming all the difficulties along the way, just left behind the large leaf and went home empty-handed.

The ant had not thought about the end before it began its journey and in the end the large leaf was nothing more than a burden to it. The creature had no option, but to leave it behind to reach its destination. The man learned a great lesson that day.

Isn’t that the truth about our lives? We worry about our family, our job, how to earn more money, where we should live, what kind of car to buy, dresses to wear, all sorts of things, only to abandon all these things when we reach our destination – the Grave.

In our life’s journey, we don’t realize that these are simply burdens that we carry with so much care and difficulty, only to find that in the end they are useless and we can’t take them along with us.

Just like in Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool, the man said to himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry.”

But God said unto him, “[Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” So [is] he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:19-21)


In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey tells the story of the woodcutter. A very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber company and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work.

The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.

“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing strength,” the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Our lives are just like that. In today’s word everyone is busier than ever, but less happy than ever. We need to take time to sharpen the “axe”. If we don’t we will become dull and lose our effectiveness. Nothing wrong with activity and hard work but we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to get close to our Creator, giving more time for our family, taking time to read etc.

We can sharpen the “axe” of our physical and mental lives by making sure we have god nutrition, proper rest, regular exercise and the right amount of air, water and sunshine.

And for the spiritual life, Paul says in his letter to the Romans that we should be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2) through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

This act of the Holy Spirit in renewing and sharpening us needs to happen on a regular basis. In fact EG White talks about it when she says we need to “Consecrate yourselves to God every morning” and to make this our very first work every day.

Thus we may be able to sharpen the “axe” so that we would be effective woodcutters for God in the advancement of the kingdom.


Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., Director of Games Research and Development at the Institute for the Future and a New York Times best selling author talks about the close relationship between the mind and the body and how they both influence each other. We know much about how the mind influences the body but not so much how the body influences the mind.

She talks about certain bodily movements that can bring instant relaxation to the mind, boost the mood, strengthen the willpower, promote positivity and even establish closer friendships.

What’s interesting is a suggestion she makes about developing an open mind. She talks about having the hands open, turning the palms to face the ceiling and counting to 15. Before one finishes, he should start to notice a more open mind-set.

Researchers call this phenomenon embodied cognition in which the brain takes mental cues from physical gestures. It’s like when we offer someone a helping hand, ask for help or prepare to receive something, our palms are upturned; and when we reject something or push someone away, our palms are face out. And this study shows that thousands of ears of these human interactions may leave us biologically primed to draw openness from upturned palms.

Further examples of this are the positions we take in prayer. Kneeling down or reverently bowing the head sends a message of humiliation and worship to the brain. Putting the hands up cues the mind for praise and extending the hands out with open palms readies the mind to receive the blessings that are being asked for.

In the case of feeding of the 5,000 with the five loaves and two fishes, Jesus told the disciples to make the multitudes sit down. The people sat down in obedience to the instructions from the Lord. It showed their faith in Jesus’ ability to feed them and fill them up despite the meager provisions. The people sitting down gave a message to their brains that there was food that was going to be served and Jesus rewarded their faith in His power to provide.