It started in the third grade with 3-Musketeers candy bars.
The class was memorizing the times tables and anyone who got 100% correct got to choose a candy bar.
I wasn’t a sweet tooth kind of person, but the sense of achievement was sweet to my soul.
I was determined to get 100% correct every week and I succeeded.
But those candy bars were my downfall.
My success fueled my pride.
By the time we got to the 12 times tables, not many kids were passing the test each week. But I did! And I felt superior for it.
Fast forward to sixth grade and a teacher who insisted that this very shy 11-year old had leadership qualities that needed to be cultivated.
He convinced me to run for student body president. He told me I was full of potential and had a lot to offer. Ah, what a sound of sweetness to a conceited soul.
When I lost the election, it wasn’t like losing a chance for a candy bar.
It was more like losing my soul.
Failure devastated the young girl whose taste of success had created an appetite for more.
Then came the awkward middle school years. Nobody was impressed with gold stars, attendance awards and candy bars anymore.
Now it was who wore the cutest clothes, was most popular and attracted the most boys.
I was even more of a loser now.
It created an emptiness inside that was more than unpleasant. It was agonizing.
By now, my sense of worth was based on my appearance and achievements and neither were good enough to make me feel good about myself.
The voice in my head constantly repeated, “Not good enough!”
By the time I hit high school, I was doing every foolish thing possible to get the attention and adoration my soul desired.
I just wanted to be loved, but I had no idea what it meant.
I was in my thirties before I learned what love really is.
If you are still searching how to love yourself, let me warn you that self-satisfaction is not as sweet as you hope it will be.
In fact, there are hidden dangers in the quest for self-love.
First I’ll show you the trap.
Then the escape!
DEFINITION OF LOVING YOURSELF
What is self love?
Humanity wouldn’t survive without some measure of self love.
Even if you are lazy, love of self will cause you to get up in the morning and find something to eat. In order to survive, your appetite will force you to do some type of work.
Loving yourself means being devoted to your own interests. That’s not wrong, but where do you draw the line?
Well meaning Christians are getting sucked into the New Age movement that takes self-interest way beyond survival mode. And they often use biblical terms to back up their teachings.
Here’s a quote that shows how they twist God’s love into something that blasphemes His holiness and denies man’s sinfulness.
"Love opens us up to all that life has to offer. But first, we must learn to love OURSELVES with all our flaws and imperfections. God doesn’t make mistakes. He made you after his own likeness as the crowning glory of all creation. Even angels bow down before you. You are breathtakingly beautiful. Exquisite. Extraordinary. Now, love yourself for who you are, in your flawlessly perfect state of imperfection. Because when you love yourself, you set yourself free to receive love and to give love away to others.” ~ Daniel Nielsen
This type of self love creates a self-centered view of life that feeds people’s sinful natures to ignore God, neglect others and focus on themselves, even though they are so flawed.
It’s easy to spot their philosophy because the word “self” is used in everything they promote.
This philosophy promotes sin by encouraging people to be self-absorbed, self-focused and self-involved.
This life ambition of protecting and promoting self for its own glory is nothing more than idolatry.
If you’re a Christian whose been caught up in this sin of self-worship, please keep reading.
THE MYTH OF LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF
Does the Bible explain how to love yourself?
Learning self love is a clear contradiction of the truth found in the Bible.
Romans chapter one says God is righteously angry at all mankind because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. They became fools and changed the glory of the perfect God into an image made like sinful man. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.
This scripture explains the exchange of truth seen in the above quote by Daniel Nielsen.
But no Christian wants to be guilty of idolatry. So the truth about God is twisted into a lie to make it easier to swallow.
The Bible teaches that loving yourself first is already a reality. It is a fact. It’s not something to be learned.
Ephesians 5:29 says that no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.
In Matthew chapter twenty-two, Jesus told His opponents, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Many people pervert this scripture by claiming Jesus gave the command to love yourself. But because loving oneself is the default position of all mankind, you are to love your neighbor “as” yourself.
That means whatever you would do for your own benefit, you are to do for your neighbor also. Biblical love seeks opportunity to do good to all men because you seek opportunities to do good for yourself. But loving others is impossible for people who are obsessed with themselves.
Also, notice how Jesus mentioned all scripture was based on only “two” commandments. If loving yourself was a commandment, He would have said “three” commandments!
THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT SELF-WORTH
Before I was saved, I felt I didn’t know how to love myself on days when I felt like a failure, ugly, and inadequate. I had struggled with these negative feelings most of my life.
And I invested a great deal of time and energy trying to make myself better. To be “good enough.”
Once I was saved, I read “so-called” Christian books that told me how valuable I was to God and I needed to stop doubting my self-worth. That soothed my feelings of failure for a very short time. It was a band-aid fix for a life-threatening wound and it didn’t last long.
That’s what happens when you believe lies. The pain doesn’t end. Only truth can set you free.
As I grew in my understanding of the Bible, I realized that learning how to love myself was the wrong goal.
My self-image was not too small.
My self-image was too big.
The self-abasing statements that I was ugly, stupid, etc. were not what caused me to doubt my self-worth.
My pride was trying to puff up my self-worth.
My goal was to feel better about myself in spite of myself.
I wanted to approve of myself. I wanted to be self-satisfied through my appearance and achievements.
I also wanted the attention and approval of others. I became a people pleaser.
I was basing my self-worth on subjective opinions of sinful people, including myself.
I couldn’t accept myself in my faulty and imperfect state. Somewhere deep inside I finally realized I wasn’t worthy of attention and approval.
And that’s the same problem all people have in this world. They don’t approve of themselves. They see their own flaws and are searching for ways to come to terms with them.
They spend thousands of dollars on self-improvement products or try to brainwash themselves that they are “breathtakingly beautiful, exquisite and extraordinary and they should love themselves for who they are, in their flawlessly perfect state of imperfection.”
But the New Age philosophy has no cure for the self-worth problem.
MISLEADING TIPS FOR HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF
The New Age movement says you can reverse your negative thoughts by cancelling out reality with your words. As if, like God who created with words, you can do the same.
Ironically, they claim the self’s inner voice can be trusted. Yet, they say the inner voice is a critic one minute and a creator the next. It just proves how “foolish” this philosophy of self-actualization really is.
They tell you to work on yourself first and provide no suggestions for how to love others.
Here’s a small sample of their advice.
How do you love yourself more by trying to fool yourself?
Sadly, they offer the most dangerous advice ever: trust yourself.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve by saying God’s Word was not trustworthy. She and Adam swallowed the lie and that’s what destroyed the perfect world and catapulted it into chaos and anarchy.
It’s the reason people are unhappy and unlovable.
Worst of all, it’s what makes all of us unworthy!
THE GREAT SELF ESTEEM HOAX
The bottom line problem with loving yourself in spite of yourself is the inward focus on problems.
American culture has gradually adopted the New Age philosophy of introspection. We live in the “ME” generation but it wasn’t that long ago that people with an inflated sense of self importance were called narcissists.
This type of self love used to be viewed as something negative. Narcissists were called vain, selfish, egotistical and conceited.
Our modern culture spins it into something positive. They claim that to be able to truly love another, you must first love oneself. And since we are commanded to love others, we MUST learn to love ourselves first.
The self-esteem movement has gained momentum and now it’s so prominent, we’re giving drugs to people who think they don’t have enough of it.
Between 1987 and 2007, the phrase “self-esteem” grew by 4,540%. In just 20 years, achieving a sense of pleasure in one’s own self became the rule instead of the exception.
But self-analysis does not lead to higher self-esteem or actual self-worth.
You can’t gaze at your navel and ask “Why can’t I love myself?” and expect an answer.
Concentrating on your problems doesn’t solve them. In fact, it makes them worse.
Problems are inside people. The solution for unworthiness is not.
Insecurity, unhappiness and unworthiness are spiritual issues that no person can solve. They require perfection from something greater than the imperfect self.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SELF-WORTH?
God alone has inherent self-worth.
And He alone is the source of true love.
God is love.
Without Him, nobody can know or experience genuine love.
Love had to be revealed to us.
God demonstrated His love for humanity by offering a perfect sacrifice for imperfect people. Imperfect people are not worthy of God’s love, but in His infinite mercy, He revealed how true love could solve the unworthiness problem.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is worthy of love and worship, was put to death on a cross to pay the penalty for people whose sins made them worthy only of death.
His perfect record of righteousness makes Him worthy and it is credited to the account of anyone who believes in Him as Lord and Savior.
And once a person is declared righteous by God, His Spirit will work inside that person to make her righteous.
God’s love is shed abroad in her heart to give her a love for God and her neighbor. And because she loves God, she will obey His commands about love.
HOW TO CONQUER THE DESIRE TO LOVE YOURSELF
The Christian is not called to love oneself. Any pursuit of self-pleasing love is the opposite of loving God.
Believers love God by obeying His commands. They are commanded to love others more than themselves and even to love their enemies. Unbelievers are not capable of this kind of love.
Just as God loves the human race so much He sacrificed His only Son, believers can have a similar attitude to others.
This kind of love is not based on the worthiness of the object of love. It is based on the very nature of God Himself whose character IS love. He extends love to completely unworthy objects and asks His children to do the same.
Loving as God loves is possible for Christians only because they have the love of God within them.
Instead of loving self, Christians are called to:
Put off the old self
Die to self
The Bible teaches that loving yourself is sin.
2 Timothy 3:1-2, 13
In the last days perilous times will come when men will be lovers of themselves. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
This scripture comes from a passage warning Christians to be on the lookout for false teachers. They have corrupt minds and are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
They sneak in and use Bible verses and talk about loving God and loving others, but it’s a religion of self-love.
Heed this warning about the New Age religion of self-love and run from it.
Let God’s Word be your guide instead of the modern culture.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
He’s given you everything you need for life and godliness. When you have God’s love and approval, you don’t need your own, or any one else’s. Only God’s love has power to define your worth and make your life secure.
If you are a Christian, thank God that although you are unworthy, He loves you because you are in Christ. And because Jesus is worthy of God’s love and approval, you are too!
Acknowledge that God determines your gifts and abilities, as well as your limitations.
Instead of looking inward with self-analysis, set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
If you want to experience true love, don’t ask how to love yourself.
Ask how to deny yourself.
When you learn how to do that, you will be able to love others, instead of clamor for their attention and approval!
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