Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is Self-Love Biblical?

In the context of not bearing a grudge or seeking revenge, Leviticus 19:18 says to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus affirmed the Ten Commandments and in the same context said to love your neighbor as yourself in Matthew 19:18-19. Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments in Matthew 22:37-40 and in the parallel passage in Mark 12:29-31 with love of God and love of our neighbor. In clarifying who our neighbor is Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 11; the parable was not about self-love, however. Romans 13:9, 10 says to love your neighbor as yourself and explains love to others as not doing wrong to others.

Jay Adams writes in his book The Biblical View of Self-esteem, Self-Love and Self-Image pp. 72-73:
To sum up this chapter [Love. . . As Yourself], we must love our neighbors as ourselves. But Matthew 22:30 contains no commandment to love one’s self, since we need not be concerned about learning to love ourselves if we truly love God and our neighbors. Since the fulfillment of these two commandments is the fulfillment of all, we will always do the right thing for ourselves. Love, in the Bible, is a matter of giving: ‘God so loved the world that He gave. . .” (John 3:16); ‘He loved me and gave. . . ‘; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself. . .” (Ephesians 5:25). Because it more blessed to give than to receive, the self-love proponents (who advocate getting from others and giving to self before giving to God and others) take away a rich blessing from those who follow their unbiblical emphasis. There is no need for concern about how to love one’s self, for so long as one seeks first to love God and his neighbor in a biblical fashion, all proper self-concern will appear as a by-product. That is why the Bible never commands us to love ourselves. Since the Bible is silent on the matter, we should be too.”
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God from Romans 3:23, does not sound like self-love. Elsewhere in Scripture Job and Ezekiel abhored themselves. Love for God and others is Scriptural. People who don’t love others are called a “noisy gong and a clanging cymbal” in I Cor. 13. To not love one's husband or one's wife is sin. To not love one’s neighbor is sin. We love, because He first loved us. It’s all about God’s love for us, not our love for ourselves.

Find another religion if you want self-love. The assumption is that I will start loving others when I love myself. Self-love is essentially humanism. It is not the Gospel.

We can never love ourselves unconditionally--only God can. Thank God for His love and mercy. We have the rest of our life and all eternity to do that if we place our trust in Christ.

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