This month’s view may cause much controversy, since I will be challenging a new age teaching that has crept into the church. I find that many have been deceived with this false doctrine and will defend it with great zeal.
You Must Love Yourself…
I know it will shock you, but nowhere does the Scripture say that we are to love ourselves. To the contrary, Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let himdeny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” 1 Clinging to self ambitions and desires will destroy us. I know this from my own experience.
So, where do we get the idea that we are to love ourselves? Didn’t Jesus say that we are to “Love others as we love ourselves?” No, He didn’t. Jesus did say, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 2
This commandment is well known to those who know Old Testament scriptures. It comes from Leviticus 19:18, which states:
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (NKJV)
Jesus is telling us to love as a merciful God loves. It is not about vengeance or even thinking badly about others (holding a grudge). It is about loving others, without any emphasis on self.
As a child, I recall memorizing the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus knew that we naturally love ourselves and are at least somewhat self-centered. Because we love ourselves, we want the best for ourselves. Likewise, we should be concerned for the welfare of others.
The Apostle Paul understood that self love is automatic. He said, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as The Lord does the church.” (Ephesians 5:29 NKJV).
Sometimes, in anger, someone might say, “I hate myself; I’m so ugly,” or “I hate myself; I’m so fat…” or “stupid” or whatever. In actuality, such statements are self-centered for if the person really hated themselves, they would be glad they were fat, or ugly, or stupid. Even suicide, which one would think was caused by self hatred, is actually rooted in pride. It is caused by a desire to prove to others that they “should have loved me more.” Its intent is to hurt others, not self. Self love is the problem, not the solution.
We Are to Love God…
The teaching that we are to love ourselves places self on the throne of our lives instead of God, our Creator, in whose image we were created. 3 Our very core is Spirit, not self as so many teach, although we are a “living soul.” 4
In the gospel of Mark, a scribe asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 5
This commandment also comes from Old Testament scriptures and is, in fact, the main part of “The Shema,” a scriptural prayer recited by Jews, both in Jesus’ time and today, at least twice a day. In Mark, chapter 12, where this story is told, Jesus recites the entire “Shema” (Mark 12:12-31).
We learn from Jesus that the Law of God demands us to love God, not ourselves. This will enable us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
My Love Was Never Enough…
In my pride, my cravings for physical pleasures and for everything I saw was my problem – self-love. My selfishness destroyed my neighbors. After the crime in 1969, I hated myself for what I had done. In therapy, I was told that I should learn to love myself, which I now see was my problem in the first place. All I know is that I needed more than my self-love.
The love of my family and others was certainly appreciated as they reached out to me, but still, that didn’t seem to be enough. They would offer me canteen money and quarterly packages, which I gladly accepted, but that didn’t fill the void in my life.
Only God’s Love Is Enough…
One night in 1975, I heard that “God loves me” and the light went on in my heart. For the first time, being told, “God loves you” was more than mere words. My eyes were opened to His death on the cross for my sin and that He gave His life’s blood to provide me with a new life. Faith was sparked in my heart. I was born-again by the Holy Spirit, and His love took up residence in my heart.
I never knew love before that night at the altar. I believed in my heart and confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. The Apostle John wrote, saying:
“All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God [love] living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, we have put our trust in His love.” 6
Again, the Apostle John wrote, saying:
“This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 7
God’s love is always enough. The price He paid for our sin on the cross with His blood has provided for our every need. Jesus Christ is our:
- Yeshua – Jireh – “The Lord Will Provide,” Gen. 22:8-14; Phil. 4:19.
- Yeshua – Tsidkeenu – “The Lord Our Righteousness,” Jer. 23:6; 2 Cor. 5:21.
- Yeshua – Shalom – “The Lord Our Peace,” Jud. 6:24; Rom. 5:1; Col. 3:15.
- Yeshua – Rapha – “The Lord Our Healer,” Isa. 53:5, 10; Matt. 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24.
- Yeshua – Raah – “The Lord Our Shepherd,” Psa. 23:1; John 10:11-16; 1 Pet. 2:25.
- Yeshua – Shammah – “The Lord is Present,” Ez. 48:35; Psa. 139:7-9; 1 Cor. 3:16.
- Yeshua – M’ Kaddesh – “The Lord Our Sanctifier,” Ex. 31:13; John 17:17-19; 1 Thess. 5:23.
- Yeshua – Nissi – “The Lord Our Banner,” Ex. 17:15; Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 5:4.
- El Shaddai – “God Almighty, All Sufficient, More Than Enough,” Used 28 times in Old Testament, Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 49:25; Psa. 91:1, 9.
A Prayer For You...
I pray that Christ will be more than enough in your hearts as you trust in God’s love. May your roots go down deep into the ground of His marvelous love. May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great we can never fully understand it. May you be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God’s love. Amen. 8
1 Luke 9:23
2 Matt. 22:39
3 Gen. 1:26, 27
4 Gen 2:7
5 Mark 12:30
6 1 John 4:17
7 1 John 4:10
8 Eph. 3:17-19
Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Evan for transcribing this months view!