I heard about a woman who broke off a long-term relationship. Her reason, she said, was, “I need to focus on me for a while. I need to learn to love myself before I can love someone else properly.”
It’s trendy to use terms like loving myself, focusing on me, and self-love, but is that biblical?
Well, let me share the verse that talks about how you should love yourself.
…Love… yourself…Mat 22:39
While the words are in the Bible, you may have noticed I had to chop that verse up to make it say what I wanted to. This is a bad Bible Study method, by the way. Let’s look at what the verse actually says in its context. This is Jesus explaining what a Christian’s life should look like.
“'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”Mat 22:37-39
Some look at the last two words of the verse and say, “See! I’m supposed to love myself.” It’s right there in the verse. Is that really what Jesus said?
Jesus mentioned two other entities who should receive our love before he said anything about self. We are to love The Lord and Neighbors. Jesus isn’t commanding you to love yourself. His premise is that you already do. He takes it for granted.
I read an article just today that claimed people don’t love themselves enough. What? Really?
For yourself you:
That sounds pretty loving to me. I’d have to love someone quite a bit to do all that for them. Even my one-year-old son doesn’t get that premium care package from me. Those who supposedly “don’t love themselves” do these activities every day. It’s fair to say that even those who are hard on themselves still love themselves plenty.
The world is not lacking in self-love. The Bible (including the verse above) doesn’t tell us to love ourselves because we already do. We love ourselves way more than we love other people, and we prove it every day with how we live.
What many are actually promoting when they say, “love yourself,” is a form of pride. Pride is like silk; it feels good to the flesh, but it’s not what the Bible tells us to do.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Phil 2:3
Society says, love yourself. The Bible says to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. By definition, trying to love yourself more would be a vain conceit and a selfish ambition.
Society says you can’t love others until you love yourself. What a lie. The Bible says to put others first. It’s extremely unlikely that you will ever be able to show as much love to others as you do to yourself, but that’s the goal: Love others as much as you love yourself.