There is a current trend that I see happening through social media, and it is deeply disturbing to me. It’s this trend of “self-love.”
I’ve seen it through Instagram pictures with the “Self-Love Sunday” hashtag. I’ve seen it through quotes on Pinterest. I’ve seen it in Facebook posts from people I respect and love dearly.
The idea in and of itself is alarming, but what’s even more alarming are how many Christians I see promoting this idea.
Where is this idea of “self-love” ever taught in the Bible? Jesus never said to love yourself. In fact, his words in Matthew 16:24-25 to his disciples were,
“‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.’”
He also told us in Mark 9:30, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”
The implication is that I already love myself too much – as a human, I naturally put myself first. But God says to take myself off the throne and put Him on the throne instead.
So where did this idea of loving yourself come from?
Perhaps it stems from people using it as a way to bolster self-confidence – you know, loving the person God made you to be. Or, as one Pinterest quote says, “Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.”
The problem with the first idea is that if you do have low self-esteem, you’re still focusing on yourself (as my sister logically pointed out). The replacement for that is not to love yourself more – it’s to see yourself as God sees you – as a sinner worthy of nothing, but lovingly saved by Christ’s death on the cross.
It’s because of what He has done that He deems us worthy. When we accept our status as redeemed in Christ, then we are free to forget about ourselves altogether and immerse ourselves in bringing glory to Christ – through loving Him and loving others (His two greatest commandments).
And the problem with the second idea is that it’s simply not true. I think the reverse is true – when we learn to love others because of Christ’s love for us, we will find deep joy and satisfaction. If we start from a place of self-focus, we won’t be able to get outside ourselves and truly focus on others.
I have found time and again that when I am struggling with a problem, if I spend time focusing on myself and worrying about how to change and fix myself, I just dig myself deeper into the pit of despair. However, if I focus on who God is – the all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing changer of hearts – He will transform me into his own character.
This is because I wasn’t made to exalt myself and be my own savior. I was made to exalt Christ the Savior through my words, actions, and abilities. When I immerse myself in knowing Him more and building that sweet intimacy of relationship with him, loving myself becomes irrelevant.
In fact, it becomes more than irrelevant, it becomes ludicrous. Why would I love myself when I have my heavenly Father to love and adore? In Him, I find my truest identity. In Him, I find my deepest worth. In Him, I find all the love I will ever need. He sees me as I am and loves me still.
Therefore, I must learn to be a servant whose greatest delight is to make my Master more well-known – not my own name more well-known.
This will bring the greatest joy I could ever hope for.