Self-love is a concept that is constantly preached in our culture. The world loves it because the message promotes self. Some in the church hate it because it detracts from the Gospel.
The way I see it, there are two sides of the self-love campaign: those who already love themselves, and those who find it impossible.
Even among the messages of “self-love,” neither side is satisfied with its degree of self-love. The main reason we have problems with this movement is because we don’t know who we are. And even if we know the truth about ourselves, we still desperately need to be reminded.
Who We Are:
The Bible tells us that on the sixth day of Creation, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
That’s who we are, folks. Should we pack up and be done with it? If you look to chapter 2, you may find reason to pause in hoisting your bags.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
Hmm. Well, that’s not a lovely picture. This makes us sound like a glorified mud pie. A self-portrait mud pie. I believe God made us from dust to keep us humble. I really do. If we go on to chapter 3, we see the fall of man into sin and disobedience. God’s response to Adam is sobering:
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
Dust. We are sinners and we are dust. But we are created in God’s image. Should we love ourselves, fallen dust that we are, destined to live in eternal death and suffering? Should we love what we do and who we are?
“Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.” Ecclesiastes 5:2
It is impossible to truly love yourself in your sinful state. You can worship yourself, and a lot of people do, but real, deep, satisfying love like the Bible describes in 1 Corinthians 13 can only be found in Christ. Why?
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign though righteousness to gain eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:19-21
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
Christ has the righteous obedience that we lack. His perfect sacrifice for you and me allows us access to God through faith in Christ and repentance from our own disobedience and sin. What does this have to do with self-love?
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
You can probably see what I’m getting at. God loves you. If we have repented and put our faith in Jesus Christ, then that love goes both ways.
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:15-16
If we have received salvation, then our hearts have been transformed by the Holy Spirit. We will love God and the things that He loves. Which includes loving yourself.
Should we pursue self-love?
We should pursue loving God. If we have a deep love of God, we will see ourselves the way He sees us: desperate sinners covered by the righteousness of Christ. His perspective should humble us and draw us closer to Him in love and gratitude.
God loves you. If you love yourself more that you love Him, remember what Christ done for you and really focus on Him. Remember that He made you out of dust and redeemed you out of your sin.
God loves you. If you hate yourself, it’s hard to remember that God loves you. Remember who you are and don’t bow down to the altar of self. If you have repented and put your trust in Christ, then you have been adopted as a child of God. He loves you.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, have predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Ephesians 1:3-5