Jul 3, 2018

Why Self-Love is so Dangerous

I walk across the gravel driveway beside my 4-year-old sister.  Her fingers are wrapped in mine.  Grabbing shoes is much too hard, so instead we limp across the sharp rocks and laugh as they poke our bare-feet.  The sun shines hot, but a breeze pushes away the sweat that clings to our faces.  When we reach my sister's favorite place, I turn to climb up the ladder.  Slides and swings, monkey-bars and climbing walls are before us.  My sister's face lights up.

"Baby T," I call her by her special nickname, smiling as I ask her a question, "how can someone be happy?"

She's clamoring across the playground and doesn't even look at me.  "We just do whatever we want."

I chew on my cheek as we start playing, because her answer is so simple, yet so wrong.  It's the reason why Christians often become self-focused.  And it's the opposite of what God calls us to do.

Somehow, my 4-year-old sister already believes in self-love and is falling to its dangers.

The Definition

Self-love has many different definitions, but it comes down to the same overarching theme:  "the desire for one’s own happiness and well-being, the love of self."

In short, self-love is when we choose to focus on ourselves.  It's akin to selfishness and something we'll probably fight for the rest of our lives if we choose to live for Christ.

And it is the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Jesus said to him, “‘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.’"
- Matthew 22:37-39

First - love God.  And second - love others.  There's not a third option.

Advocates of self-love claim that, “in order to be able to truly love another person, a person first needs to love oneself…” (see this article). But the Bible states that we love others because He loves us (John 13:34-35). It all stems from our relationship with Christ.

So where does self-love come in?  How does "me time" fit into the Gospel?

I don't believe it does.

The Truth

Recently, I've been reading Mark, and a particular theme has caught my attention.  Over and over again Jesus taught His disciples the truth to greatness.  And they continually forgot and failed.

"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."
- Mark 9:35 

"Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

The Gospel is about sacrificial love.  It's about a love so profound that we would give our lives for it. It's about a King who left His throne to save us because He loved us that much. We become servants.

We become last so that we can find a treasure so much greater.

Dear Friend, we'll be hated and persecuted for His name (Matthew 10:22).  Being a Christian isn't about being safe.  It's not about sitting in our comfort zones with our Bibles.  If we live, we live to the Lord (Romans 14:8).  Not for ourselves.  Not for our safety or comfort or pleasure.

Self-love tears our eyes off of our eternal goal.  Christians are to live in humility as servants of God.  We're supposed to live radically yet be willing to get no reward, no honor, no name.  Because Christ is enough.

That doesn't mean we go the other extreme and hate ourselves.  This is not what Christ has for us!  Rather, followers of Christ should see themselves as Christ does.  We are redeemed.  We are beloved.  We are His special treasures.  Friend, you are made in the very image of God, and Christ loves you so much that He literally left everything to die for you.  There isn't a greater romance than that!

Your flaws, your weaknesses, your fear, none of them can separate you from the love of God.  Don't ever give up.  You are so loved.

But don't let that distract you from our true purpose.  Yes, we are treasured, but if we understand what that love really means, it will push us to sacrifice ourselves and live completely for Him  (read Philippians 2:3-4)  Loving ourselves can keep us from the radical plans God has for us.

Real Life

So what does this look like practically?

There are many forms of self-love:  "me time", pushing aside ministry because it's draining, binging on social media, books, or movies, focusing on our appearances.

Christ calls us to greater things.

Yesterday, I found myself falling to selfishness without even realizing it.  I had the chance to spend my evening loving my siblings or doing a sewing project by myself.  And I chose the latter.

It's not that being alone is wrong.  The problem is that I chose to serve myself.  I wasn't loving anyone other than me.  I wasn't sewing to love Christ more; I did it merely to produce something for myself.

On the contrary, in Christ we find our rest and satisfaction in spending time with Him and in serving with Him.  We read, watch movies, speak words, and live every aspect of life to bring Him glory.

It's okay to relax and take a break, but make sure that every thing you do is done to bring a smile to His face.  We aren't Christians one minute and ourselves the next.  We are either all in or all out.  And when we are drained, I've discovered that Jesus is truly all we need.

Look to Jesus for your joy.  Not anything else.

Self-love is rejecting Jesus and putting "me" on the throne of your heart.  It turns you into an idol.

Dear Friend, I challenge you to wake up every morning and live to promote Jesus.  Live to love Jesus and others.  Being happy doesn't come from doing whatever you want, like my little sister thought on the playground or like I exhibited when I chose sew instead of love my siblings.  Joy comes from turning your eyes upon Jesus.

So what about you?  Is self-love something you struggle with?  How can we change our focus from ourselves to Jesus?  Or perhaps you disagree with my thoughts here; do you find examples of self-love promoted in the Bible?  Let's discuss together in the comments.

And if you're wanting to study deeper, here are two articles I recommend:
What does the Bible say about self-love, loving self?
5 Reasons I'm Ditching the "Me Time" Mentality

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
- Romans 12:1


  1. “We are either all in or all out” - so true. We are for God or against Him. There isn’t anything in between. Yes, we shouldn’t hate ourselves of course but we shouldn’t become obsessed with ourselves either ... as you said, we should see ourselves as Christ sees us. And yes, we should live for Him and Him alone

    1. Exactly! Thank you for sharing, Sarah. We love because Christ first loved us - but it's really not about us at all. It's about Him, His sacrifice, His story, His purpose. ♥

  2. I recently saw someone say this on social media: Self-love is the best kind of love.

    It made me sad because it's so NOT TRUE. I agree with your post 100%, and it was convicting to be reminded that either I'm all in with Jesus or I'm all out. I guess I've been recently in what I told myself was an "in-between" place, when really, I was just being selfish. You can't be selfish and selfless at the same time. :P

    Again, so much truth in this post! Thank you for continuously inspiring me in the Lord, Hosanna. <3

    1. Ah yes, and that reminds me of Jesus' words about the narrow way that leads to life, and there are few that find it. We have to be all in. Christianity isn't about being saved from hell and living the rest of our lives doing what we want, living our dreams. We need to be willing to lose everything, pick up our cross, and follow Him.

      Go all in, Lila! He is worthy of all our praise! I'm cheering you on, dear friend!

  3. So inspirating. It’s so convicting too! Welll done Hosanna!!

    1. Thank you, Victoria. Live wholeheartedly for our Lord and Savior, sweet friend!

  4. What an amazing post, Hosanna! Everything you said is so true and convicting. Keep up the incredible work, girl! You're making an impact!

    1. You're so sweet, Hannah! Thank you for the encouragement. Jesus is so worthy of our lives, and what joy comes when we surrender all to discover the greater treasure of Him. ♥

  5. I love this post Hosanna. It reminds me that the provisions for loving others come not from loving ourselves first, but from acknowledging and receiving the Lord's love for us. And He knows that we need rest. He's made provisions for us to get the daily and weekly rest we need. But rest is not loving ourselves; it's acknowledging and receiving His love.

    I don't think I've said anything new here, just interpreted and rehashed what you already said. Thank you for writing this post. I hope you've been a step closer to living in the reality that you just wrote about, and that by His grace, I will be, too. xx

    1. Ah yes, and how beautiful that is, Jordy! Jesus gives us rest, and we can find true joy in Him. I laugh sometimes at the stories of the disciples when they were exhausted and just wanted a break, but look - another thousand people to feed! Sometimes, we just have to keep loving despite our weaknesses. He is able. And our weaknesses allow Him to be ever strong. ♥ But yes, He will bring peace, joy, rest. He is so faithful.

      I love you, dear friend.


I am thrilled to receive comments, but please remember to keep them clean and uplifting. Any inappropriate posts will be deleted. I respond to comments, so please check back!

If you did drop a note, know that you made my day, and I'm so excited to become better friends as we seek to have a heart like His. ♥