On Self-love

I think part of the problem we have in the Western church is that we approach the issue from a direction that is strongly flavored by the Western worldview. Our cultural definition of what it means to love yourself is so far removed from the Biblical understanding that we can use the same words the Bible does and convey an entirely different meaning. “Love” as a word has been twisted; it has been stripped of most of its action connotations and left primarily as a warm, fuzzy feeling; it can no longer include loving someone enough to correct them away from danger, but implies complete affirmation (not merely acceptance) of who they are.
I absolutely adore the quote “God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to leave you that way”, and I think it provides a fairly solid example of how to love ourselves. God thought we were worthwhile enough to send Christ to die for us; it would be foolish not to see ourselves with the same value. However, the fact that we needed Christ to die for us highlights that there is something wrong – something that he had to come to fix. We have to love ourselves, and sometimes the most loving thing to do is to correct error.
The other problem we have in the West is that we’re so mired in individualism that the relational nature of the Bible is somewhat obscured. At its core, the Bible is about achieving a state of right relationship – firstly, right relationship with God, but subsequently right relationship with others, with creation and with self. Loving ourselves can’t truly be done unless we know what sort of relationship we’re meant to be in. I love Philippians 2 for this. If the way we are loving ourselves is coming at the expense of others, we’re not actually loving ourselves – we’re moving further away from who we’re meant to be, which is self-destructive and thus a form of self-hate.
To tie this all together, I think it is essential to love ourselves, with the correct understanding of what it means to biblically love yourself. If we’re seeing ourselves (and others) the way God does – in need of salvation and valuable enough to receive it – and we act accordingly, then we are truly loving ourselves.

– Ryan.



4 thoughts on “On Self-love”

  1. So if I’m clear with what he’s saying here, loving my neighbour enough to minister to him is actually loving myself. Yeah? Wow! That’s a whole different way to explain it. Really enlightening and I totally agree with him!

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