Monday, November 9, 2009

How can you be humble and still "Love yourself"?

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." -- Jesus, Matthew 22:39

Yesterday I taught on humility from Philippians 2:1-11. I was convicted by Paul's repeated urges to consider others more important than ourselves and to look out for others' interests above our own. I was then reminded of a devotional I heard a few weeks ago, that, sadly, I have heard several times. The main thrust of this devotional was that we must learn to "love ourselves" in order to be effective in this world. The above verse from Matthew was cited. "How can we love our neighbors as ourselves, if we don't first work on loving ourselves?"

Obviously our culture has much to say about self-esteem, self-confidence, self-trust, self-worth, self-love, self-self-self-self. But it seems to be that Jesus here is assuming that we already love ourselves. Our hearts are self-inclined naturally. We always seek good for ourselves, since we think that we do not deserve pain, suffering or wrong. Consider in the verse above that Jesus does not command us, "You shall love yourself." Rather, the explicit command is, "You shall love your neighbor." It seems that in our arrogance we love ourselves so much we want to see it commanded by Jesus, so we force it into the text! (

Which answers my question, "How can you be humble and love yourself?" No, humility can self-love cannot co-exist. Self-love is the root of sin. Eve saw that the fruit was good for her. Cain was angry because he felt that he deserved better regard. And on it goes. Sin comes from self-love, and holiness comes from God-love. 

I do not claim to be an expert in the social sciences (or an expert in anything, for that matter!) Any thoughts on self-esteem, self-love, self-worth?

"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25).