Self-love is a widely accepted concept these days. I’ve heard many different strains of it – some decidedly not Christian, others quoting Bible verses to back up their points. I wasn’t sure where to stand on the subject, but things are becoming clearer as I’ve researched and thought about it. I want to share – not to be disagreeable, but because I believe in making informed decisions, rather than going along with whatever’s popular.
The biggest problem I found with self-love is it takes away the need for salvation, and ultimately the need for God. If we love and accept all the sinful parts of ourselves, why did Christ have to die for our sins? If we become better through loving ourselves, why do we need the power and grace of God? If we are perfect in our imperfections, why follow Christ’s commands and grow in Him? If all power comes from within, why is there need for surrender? If we are enough in ourselves, why do we need God?
But the Bible says all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, (Isaiah 64:6), and all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Jesus said, I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9) The truth is, we can’t trust ourselves, we can’t better ourselves, and we can’t save ourselves.
Being self-centred is also the opposite of God’s ideal for living: Love…seeketh not her own. (1 Corinthians 13:5) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. (Romans 12:10)
God, the definition of perfect love, gave up everything so we could have salvation, and lives now to continue working salvation in us. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16) Ultimate love equals ultimate self-sacrifice. Self ‘love’ is the opposite. Ultimate self-love is sacrificing anything to gain what we want.
But, this isn’t to say the right attitude to have about ourselves is self-hate. The Bible is clear we’re created and redeemed and loved by God, and have infinite worth and value.
So what is the antidote for self-love? How can we find self-esteem or self-acceptance apart from it? The answer is God, in resting in His love. Apart from God we can’t do anything; without Him, we’re nothing. But with Him all things are possible. Instead of trying to fill the holes inside with positive words and thoughts about ourselves, fill them with God’s truths. The truth that God promises to be with me, to satisfy my longings, to give me everything I ever need. The truth that when I fall, God extends His grace and forgiveness to me, and I’m never beyond His love. The truth that He gave up everything to be able to have me with Him forever in a perfect place, and He calls me His daughter, an heir of His kingdom.
There’s a natural law that whatever we focus on is what we become like. If we focus on ourselves, we’re never going to rise above ourselves. But if we focus on God, the Bible promises: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18) By the power of God, our fallen messed up selves will change to be more and more like our Maker.
What could be better than loving ourselves? Being loved and accepted and treasured by the definition of love Himself, the all-powerful sustainer of the universe who personally loves you.
I know I haven’t begun to cover the different aspects of this extensive topic. I recommend this brilliant article which discusses a few other points: Did Jesus say I must 'love myself' first? Also, I want to be clear: this wasn’t written to target anyone specific, or as a response to any particular post. It’s something I’ve been personally chewing over for a while.
I hope you know I’m eager to hear what you think! How do you see self-love? Do you agree with what I’ve said? Please share your thoughts and findings! I’m still learning :)