Depression is real. According to the World Health Organization in its 2017 statistics more than 300 million people are battling depression, and 3.29 million of them are Filipinos. Depression is a number 1 factor in suicide. The records of the National Statistics Office states that the suicide rate in the Philippines is 2.5 for men and 1.7 for women per 100,000 population.
The Bible teaches us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Other English Bible translations say, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This means that we ought to love ourselves also. Furthermore, this presupposes that we cannot fully love our neighbors if we do not love ourselves.
Does this mean that I have to be egocentric or narcissistic? No. The Bible warns us of this. Paul wrote to Timothy, “…in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:1-5). In another letter to the Philippians church, Paul wrote, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
What then are some of the things that Bible teaches us how to love ourselves? Let me mention a few.
First, believe that you are created in the image of God. As such, our lives matter and we have a purpose to fulfill in this lifetime.
Matthew 10:30-31 reminds us of our worth in the eyes of God. Jesus said, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Let us not feel worthless and insignificant. We can also claim the promise of God to Jeremiah that can has a wonderful plan for each one of us.
Second, do not hate yourself but feed and take care of it. Let us watch what we eat, and remember to exercise. We can observe that it was only recorded once that Jesus rode a donkey. All throughout his life on earth, he was just walking.
In Ephesians 5:29 Paul wrote that Jesus Christ cares for the church because it is His body. In the same manner Paul reiterates that “No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it…”
In the creation account, God designed us to eat healthy foods – Genesis 1:29-30 “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food…I give every green plant for food.” In discussing about food, Paul argues that “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
May we go out every day determined to love God, love others, and love ourselves.
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Office of Communications
Central Philippine University