As YHWH recounts His instructions for us, He begins in an unexpected manner: “Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.” (De 14:1) What a fascinating way to begin!
Losing a loved one in death is can be intensely difficult; to demonstrate our love we might even disfigure ourselves in some way as a token, a remembrance of them. (Le 19:28) But disvaluing ourselves doesn’t enrich others, and it’s disrespectful to our Creator, in whose image we’re all made.
And if we’re not to mar ourselves for such intense motivations, how much more should we refrain from doing so for more trivial, whimsical reasons?
And if we aren’t to mar our bodies, how much less should we ever mar our spirits? Putting ourselves down, wishing ourselves harm, fearing victory, achievement and success, neglecting God’s gifts within (1Ti 4:14), despising His design in us … how does this honor Him?
In this initial command, YHWH’s telling us to respect ourselves, to honor ourselves along with others, acknowledging that we’re all on equal footing before Him; loving our neighbors as ourselves implies loving ourselves.