Before reading these insights, I encourage you to do the Bite Size Study "Trojan Horse Lie: Loving Ourselves."
I believe this love-yourself-first is one of Satan's most successful "soldiers" in his Trojan Horse. Even though it is a hollow, deceptive philosophy based on a half-truth, it has taken many captive in the Church (Colossians 2:8).
Mark 12:29-31: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
♥ ♥ ♥ The love we have for God should be the highest form of love. It's a love that should trust, admire, and adore Him completely -- with heart, soul, mind and strength. It's a love that esteems Him above all others, worships and magnifies Him. Our love for God should be greater than any love because God is greater than anyone and has done more for us than anyone.
♥ Our love for our neighbor is compared to the type of love we have for ourselves. That means we bring our neighbor good, not harm and we show him the same consideration we show ourselves. This is a restatement of the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).
When people talk about loving themselves before they can love others, they're talking about having good feelings about themselves, (i.e. having high self-esteem for themselves). This is wrong in two major ways:
First, having good feelings and high esteem for our neighbor's personality isn't commanded in this verse. It's not the kind of love asked of us, so there's no reason we must cultivate it in ourselves first.
Second, our obedience to God's commands is never dependent on how we feel about ourselves. It's dependent on how we feel about God.
God created us and cares deeply about our well-being. He didn't forget to tell us something important about loving ourselves first. Nor did He hide this message in a verse telling us to love others.
When we insist that we must have confidence and love for ourselves in order to show it toward others, we do exactly what Satan desires: we remain self-centered, ineffective Christians. And if we gain self-esteem by focusing on ourselves, it's an unhealthy self-esteem.
2 Timothy 3:1-5: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
We are fallen...we will never have a completely balanced, healthy self-image in this world. But the vast majority of our problems come from focusing on ourselves too much.
As this passage points out, loving self is often the beginning of evil actions and attitudes. That's why the Bible stresses humility and never mentions self-esteem in a positive light.
Romans 12:3: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Having "sober judgment" involves being humble, confessing our sins, and seeking to conform to the image of Christ.
When we take our focus off esteeming ourselves and focus on esteeming God, we gain an accurate self-esteem that is able to admit our weaknesses and failures and give God glory for our strengths and successes.
We will never be secure if we are dependent on the love and favor of others. The only way we gain a balanced view of ourselves is by knowing and loving God more. When we lack confidence, we should build our confidence in Him, not ourselves, because
He can do more than they ask or imagine as we trust in Him (Ephesians 3:20).
1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Only those who have an accurate, humble view of themselves will be able to esteem, honor, praise, and admire God appropriately. As we realize how weak and sinful we are, we will have more love and admiration for God's undeserved grace.
Proverbs 26:12: Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.
Satan's plan is to make us fools, and that's what this false philosophy does.
copyright Gail Burton Purath, 2013, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted