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This might sound weird, but I am feeling so bad about myself that I am starting to wonder if God really loves me. My mind knows it is a crazy question, because the Bible tells us that God loves us. But my heart wonders if maybe God feels differently about me than He does about everyone else, because I am not really all that loveable.
I make mistakes that I get mad at myself for making. At times I catch myself having attitudes that I know can't possibly please God. I try to love others, but I guess my interpersonal skills are not very good and I end up offending people when I don't mean to. When you put all that together, I don't think that I am very loveable. Does God really love me?- Am I Loved?
Dear "Am I Loved?"
It is a good thing that God's love for us is based on His character and not on our feelings, because a lot of us struggle with the same question that you ask. When we say, "I'm not sure that God really loves me," it is usually a "trust issue" more than a "love issue." We know God is love, but we don't trust Him to keep His word to love us when we feel bad about ourselves.
The issue is not really about God and his nature, it is about our own attitude towards ourselves. Many time the devil gets involved in the process; he wants to make us feel as bad about ourselves as possible. He knows that if we focus on feeling "unlovable," then we can't become secure in God's love for us. He doesn't want us to know who we are in God, because then we would become very dangerous to him. He is genuinely afraid of what God will do through each of us His children as we step up to our destiny and allow Him to use us to accomplish His purposes in our lives. It is like we have a spiritual sign hanging from our necks that the demonic realm can see. It reads "Armed with the Holy Spirit and potentially dangerous."
The demonic realm does everything it can to try to shut us down before we discover our full potential. They know that they will lose if they engage us in overt spiritual warfare, because Jesus has given us authority over demons (see Luke 10:19.) So they try to engage us on a psychological battlefield instead. The enemy of our souls wants to get us so wrapped up in our own faults and weaknesses that we don't have the time/energy left over to fight him.
The Bible tells us that he is the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev 12:10). Don't be surprised when he accuses you, because that is his job description. You are not worse than other believers, the devil does the same job on all of us. (In fact, if you were really worthless, unlovable, etc, then the devil would not have to waste his resources on you, and he would not bother accusing you.)
The Bible also says that he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). The reason his lies feel "true" is because he is so good at it. He skillfully embeds little pieces of truth into his lies because he hopes that if you see part is true, then you will assume the rest is true as well. Let me give you an example of how he does this.
He catches you in a sin and he jumps on it and calls that sin to your attention over and over again after you have already repented of it. Yes, it is true that you sinned. But he goes on to tell you that this sin separates you from God even though you repented of it (a lie) and that God is upset with you and doesn't want to be around you because of that sin (another lie). After you believe that lie a few times, then he bumps the deception up to the next level. He tell you something like "You are always letting God down and He doesn't like you anymore." After you believe lie #2 for a while, then he moves in with the next level of lie, "Don't bother approaching God. You are a disappointment to Him and He doesn't like you. He doesn't want you around."
The devil tells you that lie because he wants to separate you from God. He knows that if he can get you separated from your power source, then you won't be much of a threat to him.
The devil's lies feel true to us for two reasons. The first is that there was a seed of truth in it...we did sin. But we somehow forget what God said about the blood of Jesus covering our sin, and our minds try to hold on to the dirt of that sin even after we have been washed clean from it. (Or we think it is true for others but not true for us.)
We need to let God's word wash our thinking clean so that the lies of the enemy don't get power over us. Here is a passage that is helpful for that:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-35,38-39, NKJV)
The second reason that the devil's lie feels true is because many of us don't love ourselves. Many of us have been taught that if we love ourselves, that is pride and sin. But that is not what the Bible says. Jesus said "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus told us to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. That implies that He expects us to love ourselves. We are to love God more than anything else, but we are also to love ourselves. Why? Because we are of such great value to God that Jesus was willing to come and die for us.
One time a lady who was struggling with very low self esteem came to me. She told me that God could not possibly love her because she were not very good at loving their neighbor. I threw up one of those "Lord, what should I say to her?" prayers. God's answer simply amazed me.
He said, "Tell her that she is doing a great job obeying that command, and I am pleased with her. The command is to love her neighbor as much as she loves herself, and she is doing that. She may not love others as much as she thinks she should, but she loves them as much as she loves herself. She doesn't love herself very much right now--in fact, there are times when she doesn't even like herself. She is loving them with as much love as she currently has the capacity for, so she is doing what I have asked her to do."
Then He went on to tell her that He was going to make her more secure in His love for her, which will help her to love herself more. Then when she is able to love herself more, she will have a greater capacity to love others. Then she will see a noticeable improvement in her relationship with others. She was putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. She thought she had to be good at loving others to earn God's love for her. God told her it was the other way around--that His love for her would change and transform her and make her better at loving others.
"Am I Loved?", I really believe the word would say the same thing to you that He said to this other lady. Your good behavior doesn't earn His love and your bad behavior doesn't make Him stop loving you. But the more His love soaks into you, the more it will transform your thinking and your behavior. At some point He will have changed you so much that you will start seeing yourself as very likeable/loveable. His love won't leave you, it will perfect you. It will transform you into someone who you can truly like being. It will make you look more and more like Jesus.