By faith we have seen that what is basic to loving ourselves is knowing ourselves. And part of the basics to knowing ourselves is knowing the difference between what we know for certain and what we do not. I say by faith and in certain conviction that God is Creator and I am a creature. Yet exactly all my weaknesses and strengths or even any of them is not so certain to me.
We must be both content and humble both in this certain knowledge and in the various opinions we have of ourselves. I am content, that is, I accept the fact that I am a sinner. I am humble in the understanding that salvation from his sin is of the Lord and not of me. So too I am content with what in my opinion is my ugly nose. Yet I am humble with the gifts and talents I have been given.
Being so content and so humble in all aspects of our knowledge of self we are beginning to do something in and with that knowledge. This deed we perform is the means God has ordained and given to make us more conformable to His own image. The Bible calls this action of ours self-denial.
Self-denial is what love demands from the sinner who would love God and the neighbor in deed and speech. It is taking up the cross (e.g. Matthew 16:24) in our following Jesus. Or, in other words, being so humble and content in our certain knowledge and opinions of self, we sacrifice or give up all our earthly and selfish desires. This we do that we might be filled with all the fullness of God, loving Him as our Creator and Redeemer and Friend. (Eph. 3:17-10).
So when we greet the neighbor they will see. They will see that we know who we are and who they are in themselves and that none of us can extricate himself from his miserable sin except by grace. And they will see that we are only hard against sin and not against personality or looks or whatever is not sin. They will see also that we see ourselves as the chief sinner and are not judgers of men. Thus we will begin and end our conversation, will we not, by denying ourselves and not the one to whom we speak.
“Coffee tastes good on a cold day,” Mom will say to the fellow-shopper, motivated by her desire to have that cup of coffee with the other woman and to tell her of the Lord. And when the Covenant Christian High School student talks to his friend he ought maybe to think more before he speaks. He will do this in a humble way, revealing that he has thought to love his friend before he spoke.
In this way of loving self-denial in our opinionating, we assert God. In all areas of our lives, especially in the rather large arena of our opinions, may our Sovereign God who loves us be proclaimed in love!