IS SELF LOVE A SIN? IS SELF LOVE SELFISHNESS?
ARE WE COMMANDED TO LOVE OURSELVES?
I was debating on Facebook with a man who did not believe it was possible to live a holy life or be free from sin. He asked if I ever go shopping and then said that if I did that was covetousness. He thought that if we do anything for ourselves, like buy food, we are sinning.
I said that covetousness was unlawful lust for your neighbors possessions, when you want what is rightfully theirs. It is not wanting the purchase items that are for sale, which are necessary for you to take care of yourself like food and clothing. The seller wants to trade the product for your money and you want to trade your money for their item. This is not stealing as both parties are consenting. And as nobody’s rights are being violated in this transaction, it is not sin. You ought to buy clothing and you ought to buy food, as this is necessary for your own well-being and physical health. It is not a sin to take care of ourselves as we are commanded to love ourselves.
He then asked:
Where is this biblical principle laid out that we should love ourselves? Isn’t that the antithesis of agape love?
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour AS THYSELF. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mk. 12:30-31
Agape (Greek for love) is defined as benevolence or good will. It is willing the good of everyone, according to the order of their value: God supremely and neighbor equally. We should love God supremely because His well-being is of supreme value and we should love our neighbor equally because their well-being is just as valuable as our own.
Self-love is not a sin. It is not forbidden by the law of God. In fact, it is implied in it. It says love your neighbor as yourself.
Selfishness, however, is a sin. Selfishness is when you love yourself above your neighbor and above God. It is when you love yourself supremely. This is unreasonable because you are not supremely valuable. To regard yourself and treat yourself as supremely valuable, as more valuable than God and more valuable then your neighbor, is absolutely unreasonable and absolutely sin. Selfishness is contrary to the nature of things.
Self-love, however, is not selfishness. Self-love is simply having a healthy regard for your own well-being. You are a valuable person so you ought to love yourself. It is unreasonable not to.
If God loves us and therefore has a regard for our well-being, should not we love ourselves as we are commanded to be imitators of Him? God believes and acts as if our well-being is valuable and so it would be not only unreasonable but also ungodly for us to not to do the same.
Julius Muller said,
“In Holy Scripture, moreover, we find that self-love is not only justified but enjoined; e.g., Matt. xxii. 39; Romans xiii.9; Gal. v. 14; James ii. 8. If in these passages it is not expressly commanded its obligation is recognized, for we are told that the love of our neighbor is to equal our self-love.” The Christian Doctrine of Sin, Vol. I, published in 1868, p. 140
A supreme love of self is selfishness and sin, but a love of self according to your relative worth and the proper order and nature of things is not a sin but is reasonable and godly.
While we are to have a healthy regard for our own well-being, considering ourselves in the proper order of things given our relative value in relation to everyone else, we are to do all things primarily for the glory of God. Thus we can shop for groceries out of a care and concern for our own well-being, but primarily so that we can live and promote the glory of God. Our supreme intention is God’s glory, while the well-being of ourselves and our fellowman is secondary.
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31
CHECK OUR THE BIBLICAL TRUTH RESOURCES BOOKSTORE: Click Here