“Self-love.” That phrase gives me the heebie-jeebie-jibblies! And, as the New Year so often sirens us towards bettering ourselves (whether with the holiest or haughtiest of intentions), I wanted to briefly address the topic.
🌿The phrase “self-love” rankles me because it can be so anti-gospel, and head-butts the pursuit of the glory of God.
🌿I have not seen anywhere in Scripture where we are told to love ourself. The only place that comes to mind is “love your neighbor as yourself,” yet that seems to say that loving ourselves is already our default (self preservation naturally, and self-satisfying carnally), and we must simply use that understanding of how we already pursue our own comfort in order to better understand how to love other, rather than as a call to first love ourself and then love others. Additionally, Paul often calls us to deny ourselves, and led by example the art of loving others at the cost of our personal comfort.
🌿Now, this does not negate the stewardship of our physical bodies! We must keep ourselves safe, healthy, and whole, as much as within our ability to do so, yet not at the cost of any of God’s other mandates in our lives. I understand that a proper view of God will, in turn, give us a proper view of ourselves, and we must steward ourselves (and our understanding of our value as His image-bearers, and our position in Christ) well to His glory. That is NOT what the world calls “self-love,” but is moreso obedience and a proper response to the worth we carry as God’s beloved.
🌿At this point I hold that self-love is essentially pride (thus idolatry), and is what got Lucifer in trouble, Eve kicked out of the garden, and is at the heart of all of our world’s sin.
🌿At the heart of my discomfort with the phrase “self-love” is that is is so self-centered. We are not commanded to make ourselves better, live our best life, or even focus on making sure we look the most like Jesus. Instead we are command to FOCUS ON JESUS, and the fruit of that focus will be the bettering of ourselves, the best life lived, and the clearest reflection of Christ.
🌿We must practice JESUS-love. Biblical self-love is when we tie our Self to the altar and give it to Jesus, that HE might teach us to love all He has given us in light of loving Him first.
🌿Here is an EXCELLENT article that I would HIGHLY recommend: “No One Loved Himself Like Jesus.” May we all love Him first, best, and only, as we navigate that echo of love towards others and ourself this year. 🌿