Have you heard Christian speakers or writers tell us that we need to love ourselves? They may point to Jesus quoting the second great commandment to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (e.g. Mark 12:31) and say that it presupposes that I will love myself before I love my neighbour.
True, Jesus does assume that we will love ourselves, but he is not telling us to. Rather, he is encouraging us to show our neighbours the same love we naturally have for ourselves. Further, nowhere does Scripture tell us to love ourselves. If anything, love for self is a problem. The apostle Paul warns that “there will be terrible times in the last days.” And what is the first sign of that? “People will be lovers of themselves.” He goes on to list other disordered loves: “lovers of money … without love … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4). It does not seem that loving yourself is a good thing!
Having said that, I believe that those who encourage us to love ourselves are on to something vital. God does want his children to know that they are loved. We are even encouraged to pray that we may “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). And how much better it is to be confident that God loves me than it is for me to love myself!
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)