Dove Research claims that only 4 percent of women worldwide find themselves pretty, and the company has declared that their mission is to help women rediscover their beauty. We blame bullying, eating disorders, low graduation rates, and even suicide on a lack of self-esteem. Believing that self-love is the panacea for numerous problems, companies plaster encouraging messages globally. However, self-hatred is not the root of the problem; self-love is.
Humans have the natural inclination to love themselves. Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote “We are constantly looking out for ourselves, deeply sensitive to our own feelings and needs, always conscious of how things and people affect us.” We want the entire world to have a correlating opinion of our own person. We are easily hurt because “we want to be accepted, cherished, and treated well.” When we feel that others do not share our admiration, we begin to believe lies about ourselves. We see flaws that do not exist. We strive to create unattainable perfection, and we feel that we are failures when we miss these unrealistic expectations. With the mirror as our judge, we go to drastic measures to make others love us as much as we love ourselves.
Perhaps we are looking in the wrong mirror.
James 1:24 compares a reader of God’s Word to a man “beholding his natural face in a glass.” When we look into God’s Word, we see truth to combat the lies. Truth is, we do not need to love ourselves. Neither do we need to hate ourselves. We need to love God. We need to focus solely on Him. We need to let Him control every aspect of our lives.
When we begin to love God more than we love ourselves, we will see ourselves as we truly are. This is apparent in the life of Paul. In an early letter, Paul viewed himself as “least of the apostles” (I Cor. 15:9). Although he was ignoble, he noted the fact that he had seen the risen Christ. Later, he referred to himself as “the very least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8). Once again, he admits his shame but grasps his position in Christ. However, in one of his final letters to Timothy, he wrote that he was chief amongst sinners. As Paul grew to love God more and more, he realized his own deficiency of merit. Paul did not lack self-esteem; he knew exactly who he was and his purpose on earth. He lacked pride. He lacked self-love. He had immense love for God.
James goes on to say, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein… shall be blessed in his deed.” Forget the breakable, carnal, glass mirror. Look instead into the true, perfect Word of God.