By Terry Hoskins –
Secular psychology tells us that many of our problems are the result of not loving ourselves. They conclude the root culprit of many psychological disorders is a lack of love for self. Others resolve that a person who does not love themselves is incapable of loving God or anyone else. Pierre Corneille, a French playwright from the 1600s, summed up this belief when he said, “Self-love is the source of all our other loves.” This line of thinking is often followed with an analogy borrowed from the airline industry. When your airplane suddenly loses cabin pressure, the first thing you are instructed to do is secure your own oxygen mask, and then help others. This analogy transitions into a talk on self love, and how we need to love ourselves first before we can effectively love others. It sounds good, but is it true?
Compare common philosophy of the day with God’s Word
The Bible is our manual for living, and we should allow it rather than culture to guide our lives. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT) We need to allow the Bible to teach, train, guide, and correct us with all authority. That means we begin to filter ALL philosophies through the Word of God, to make sure that they agree with God’s truth. Therefore, we must measure the idea of loving ourselves through the lens of Scripture.
Jesus Talks about Self Love
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor AS yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV) So how many commandments does Jesus espouse in this passage? Two, right? The first is to love God and the second is to love others. Why didn’t Jesus command us to love ourselves? Surely, this must have been an accidental omission since so many today argue that love of self is a key ingredient to loving others and God! On the contrary, many would say Jesus didn’t leave out self love as a command because it says to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The little word “as” gives us insight into Jesus’ view on self love because He assumes everyone does this naturally. Jesus is saying that we should love God and others THE WAY we already love ourselves.
Self love can be defined as an intense focus on self. This definition describes a person who is focused on his/her wants, issues, problems, goals, emotions, feelings, thoughts, entertainment, job etc. They begin to react to things as though the world revolves around themselves. They can’t see beyond their own thoughts and circumstances. No one including God can be a part of their life because in reality self love is a god unto itself! That is why Jesus says to love God and others AS yourself. God’s Word also says, “mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves…” (2 Timothy 3:1-2a, NIV) We have become so consumed with our own surroundings that we have failed to live up to our true mission: to love God and others. That is why we spiral into depression, eat to satisfy ourselves, drink to avoid issues, divorce for our own benefit, and get involved in a multitude of destructive behaviors.
Die to Self
Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34b, NLT) The cross was an instrument of torture that led to a slow and painful death. When death of self occurs, God can begin to use us because we learn to depend on Him instead of ourselves. We learn to love God and others as we are freed from the bondage of self love. We become free from pride, selfishness, bragging, jealousy, anger, and un-forgiveness. God gives us a heart that is full of patience, trust, hope, perseverance, love of truth, and protector of those who are vulnerable. Our world expands beyond our own little boundaries because we are captivated by God instead of ourselves.