There is little possibility of understanding self-love and acceptance without understanding the process of self-denial. Self-denial has a bad history in that the old and early saints, and some contemporary as well, took extreme views and made extreme example by severe fasts and improper ascetical practices that were exaggerated and self-justifying rather than obedience to gospel examples of denial.
The purpose of Christian self-denial is “for my (Jesus) sake and the sake of the gospel” (Mark 8:35, see also vs. 34-38) said Jesus, that is, for the sake and promotion of the kingdom of God. The word deny in Greek means to say ‘no,’ or to rule out, or negate. So we are taught to say ‘no’ to certain things because they negate the ‘yes’ of following Jesus and promoting His kingdom.
Self-denial is most accurately understood as being directed against any form of selfishness that would make us unavailable for the service of Christ.
One of the great conflicts of Christian witness is the exasperating level of low self-worth demonstrated by quick remarks and agreement to ‘give up our lives for Jesus.’ We cannot give what we do not have. Self-donation presupposes self-possession. If we do not love and accept ourselves we cannot very easily give to others what we so lack, or do not have. We need to come to responsible selfhood before trying to encourage others on a path and understanding we have not experienced.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Jesus