This week I am counting down the most frequently viewed blogs on this site. Today is the number 5 most viewed post of all time, written by my friend, Karen Pickering. Karen is a Biblical Counselor and founder of The Lytroo Retreat. Lytroo Retreat was created to minister to women who have been sexually abused. It is an opportunity to shift your focus from your painful past to a hope filled future. You can read more about Karen and Lytroo Retreat here.
That phrase is 41 years old. It was part of an ad campaign for L’Oreal. I still remember the first time my family saw the commercial. My parents looked at each other and burst out laughing. I never imagined that the phrase would still be with us and so much a part of our culture all these years later. It’s one thing for a secular company to use it as an ad campaign, but when Christians start using it as an excuse to indulge and pamper ourselves I just feel sad.
We have become a generation of me first. We are full of self-esteem, self-centeredness and self-indulgence. On more than one occasion I have heard individuals preach the gospel of “Loving Ourselves”. They use Ephesians 5:29 “after all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body.” They fail to see the verses directly preceding it which are an exhortation for husbands to love their wives (as their own body). Scripture is plain that we all already love ourselves. We don’t need encouragement to do it. It comes naturally. That’s why God’s word is full of verses that emphasize loving your neighbor as yourself. In other words, show the same love for others that you have for yourself. Scripture even goes farther. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor”(Romans 12:10). Philippians 2:3-4 states “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” The passage goes on to give Christ as our example (Phil. 2:5-8). Rather than demanding His rightful place He became a servant and took our punishment on the cross.
Hebrews 11 is full of examples of people who followed hard after God. Some experienced wonderful miracles. Some endured relentless trouble and even death. Hebrews 12:1-3 gives us our marching orders. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
My father belonged to a whole generation of men who went to war not for love of self, but for love of family and country…to stand with God against evil. Are we so busy pampering ourselves that a righteous cause is no longer worthy of our time? Are we so busy teaching our children to love themselves that they won’t know how to fight for something besides themselves when trouble comes? Are we so blind to the redemption God brought to us at such horrific cost that instead of following His example we think our salvation was for our benefit alone? We forget we were meant to be part of a larger story. A story that is more glorious than our small little life and our stunted perspective.
As you look back at your life what is most memorable? What are you most satisfied with? Is it how well you loved yourself? Or is it the times you were able, with God’s strength, to do the hard things, to love the hard people. To stay up all night with a sick child. To hold the hand of a parent who is dying. To sit with a friend in a courtroom as her son is being charged with a crime. To whisper I’m sorry to someone who has just lost a loved one. To give the money you were saving for a new dress to a family who is out of work. To put aside what seemed pleasant and good so that a greater purpose could be served.
Do you repeat the phrase “Because I’m Worth it” or do you unwaveringly proclaim “Because God is worthy I lay aside my wants and longings for His wants and longings.” His is a much grander story than you could ever imagine. Delight to be part of it.
Karen Pickering moved from North Dakota to Wisconsin in her 20′s. She is a certified Biblical Counselor with IABC. She volunteers at the Seed of Hope Center in Hartford and West Bend, WI and also spent three years as a Hospice volunteer. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. Her passion is discipleship. Karen is friendly, caring and reserved with a determined spirit. She has been known to spend all day at auctions and enjoys music, cooking, travel and a good cup of tea.