15 Jul Episode 4: Is self love a Christian virtue?
July 15, 2020 | Susie Rock
Today we’re going to be talking about identity in answering the question, “Is self-love a Christian virtue?” The world proclaims that self-love is the answer to our worth, our being, our purpose, and the meaning in life. But the Bible tells us that our worth and our purpose are found in God’s love. Romans 5:8 says, But God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. There is no greater evidence of our worth and our love than the fact that someone was willing to die for us. It cost Him His life. God’s love declares infinite worth to His children, and as we trust in Him, He also enables us to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can have a new life in Him, so that we can have a new mission to live for His glory. He is our Creator, the meaning of our existence, and our hope for eternal life. The Christian worldview is rooted in Him.
Each of us lives with a worldview. A worldview answers the questions, “Where do we come from, what is the meaning of life, and where are we going?” The concept of self-love has slowly taken shape over the centuries with varying but very intentional worldviews. It’s important for us as Christians to be aware of this so that we can combat unbiblical worldviews with what God’s Word says. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 teaches, For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have the divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy every argument and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. To do this, it’s very important for us to understand the worldviews so that we can discern what is true and what is not true, and to alleviate the concern of whether or not I’m living for the Lord because as we look to God’s Word He tells us, He directs us, and He gives us our worldview. Jen Oshman has written about the varying worldviews in her book, Enough about Me. Understanding these different worldviews helps us to understand where we’ve come from and how we’ve gotten to where we are today apart from God’s Word. In her book, she summarized that in the 1700s Jean-Jacques Rousseau advanced the freedom of self. He’s been said to be the father of, “If it feels good, do it.” In the 1800s, the worldview of self-reliance began with Ralph Emerson’s statement, “Everyone for himself; driven to find all his resources, hopes, rewards, society, and deity within himself.” And of course, Karl Marx was also someone who rose up in that era with a statement that said, “A being only considers himself independent when he stands on his own feet; and he only stands on his own feet when he owes existence to himself.” Marxism is still evident in today’s society. We see little signs of communism and lots of signs of socialism. Lots to be concerned about all starting in the 1800s. And the 1900s were a century that declared there is no way to ultimately explain who we are or how we got here. That is the worldview of post-modernism. We can see how these worldviews really have influenced our society and how they have thrown out their belief in God, and rather they’ve highlighted individualism. People have made themselves to be God; they have put themselves on the monument of glory and worship because they themselves are worthy of glory. They themselves have become God. It’s no wonder that self-love is the answer for our being because after all, if we are deity, self-love makes a lot of sense. But how does God’s word answer the three worldview questions?
First of all we ask, “Where do we come from?” The Bible tells us there is only one God, and we come from Him. Isaiah 45:18 says this: For thus says the LORD who created the heavens (He is God!), who formed the earth and made it. (He established it; He did not create it empty, He formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD and there is no other. He alone is God, and He alone is Creator. We have to acknowledge the fact that we haven’t created ourselves. He has formed us, and He has designed us, and He has loved us, and He has put His personal stamp on us. This tells us a lot about our worth. It’s so much more than just being evolved. It’s so much more than just coming from a “Big Bang.” To be that is to be nothing. But to be created by God gives us incredible beauty and worth and meaning. Because being created in Him is the opportunity to reflect Him and to be transformed by Him. You see, to be created by God means that the meaning of our life comes from Him.
That’s our second question: “What is the meaning of life?” The meaning of life comes from God. John 20:31 says, But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name. Our life in Him calls us to bring glory to Him. You see, self-love is all about self and beholding the self and putting ourselves up on a pedestal, whereas we’ve been created by God. Our life and our meaning and our purpose are in Him, to bring Him glory. So as we bring Him glory, we are gazing upon His beauty, and then He begins to transform us. To do this is so incredibly different than to behold ourselves because if we’re beholding ourselves that’s very insipid. We’re very limited to our own resources, our own energy, our own creativity, our own uniqueness. Whereas if our life and our being are in Him, we have the opportunity to be transformed by Him as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18: And we all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is spirit. Looking to Him results in glorious transformation. We become the people that He has designed us to be. And as we behold Him, we have the opportunity to do the greatest things. The greatest thing that we can do in our lives is to love God. Matthew 22:37-38 says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. The second greatest thing we can do is to love others. He continues in verse 39 to say, And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself. You see, this commandment actually assumes that we already do love ourselves. I’m going to touch on that a little bit later. So we’re loving God, we’re loving others, and thirdly, we are humble. Jesus says, Truly I say to you unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. That’s in Matthew 18:3. Humility is the opposite of self-love because humility is loving God and loving others, and it has no eyes left to turn towards self. It’s important to note though that self-love is not the opposite of self-hatred. We are not called to hate ourselves; rather, we are called to have a right view of ourselves, and that right view is God’s view. God’s view is rooted in the righteousness of Christ. You see, as Christians we have to acknowledge both our own sinfulness, our own limits, because we are human, we are frail, we’re in desperate need of Him. But at the same time, if we have turned to Christ, if we have trusted in Him and repented of our sins, we also know that God says beautiful things about His children. He calls us to be righteous. He’s declared us to be righteous as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. When that righteousness is declared to us, we are then fully loved, fully accepted, fully forgiven, and eternally children of God. That is who we are. Those are the beautiful things that God says to us. We are to embrace that. As we are able to embrace the beautiful grace and goodness and love of God, we no longer have to turn to the bondage of self-love.
I just want to take a moment to talk to those women who do feel unloved. I know what that’s like. I too have been a woman who has really felt replaced or rejected or ridiculed. I know what that feels like. It hurts. I know what it’s like to ugly face cry. I know what it’s like to have so much pain in my chest that I can’t even cry. So to you, I also want to remind you that God’s love is still the answer for you. Sometimes in our pain we turn into ourselves. We begin to believe that we can’t trust anybody else; we can only trust ourselves. We hate others, and we might think we hate ourselves. But the truth is, if we really hated ourselves, it wouldn’t hurt so much. The answer then is not just to turn in and try to love ourselves more, but the answer is to find our infinite and glorious and steadfast hope and love in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The third question is, “Where are we going?” The Bible tells us we’re all headed for eternity. Those who have repented will live forever with God, but those who have denied God will live in eternal death separated from God. Romans 6:23 says this: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. You see, hell is real. If you’re unsure about where you are going – I encourage you – it’s urgent. Choose to believe in Jesus Christ today. Surrender, trust in Him, repent of your sins, and you can be forever changed, forever transformed, forever forgiven, and fully loved by God. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come. All who come to Him have the opportunity to be fully loved, fully satisfied, in His perfect, incredible, ongoing, consistent love. We will not have to turn to ourselves and try to convince ourselves that we’re good enough, that we’re loved enough, and somehow always end up in emptiness. God’s love is full and complete. It’s rooted in the righteousness of Christ and therefore, if you are a child of God, I encourage to continue to pursue Him. Continue to rest in His love because I can confidently say that all of His children are truly loved.
1. When did God start loving you, and how does this satisfy you?
2. How would you describe the current world-view in Canada today?
3. In your own words, using ideas from today’s video, what is a timeless biblical worldview that doesn’t change throughout the generations?
4. Choose and memorize a verse that describes God’s love for you.
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