Day 49: February 18, 2023

Cultivating the Godly Quality of Self-Love

Key Verse to Read and Treasure

The one who acquires good sense loves himself—Proverbs 19:8

For Insight

We have talked about loving neighbors, God’s unconditional love toward us, Philia or the love in friendship, and Storge, or family love but what about loving self?

Some Christians don’t believe loving self is doctrinally sound but there are more than a dozen Bible verses that that self-love is not only healthy, it’s biblical.

David wrote in Psalm 139:14 that God has made us amazingly and miraculously and Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:29 that no one ever hated his/her own body but nourishes and tenderly cares for it the way Christ does the Church, and even back in the Old Testament God told Moses that the people should love their native-born Israelites just as they loved themselves (Lev. 19:34). This kind of self-love God taught his creation from early on is not the same as what Paul warned Timothy about when he said people would become lovers of themselves where their carnality would be seen through their love of things such as money and be born out of pride and arrogance (2 Tim. 3:1-2). As the apostle John put it in his letter (I John 4:19) We can love ourselves in a healthy, God-pleasing way because God first loved us first.

Solomon gave very sound instruction about self-love when he wrote, “to acquire wisdom is to love oneself.” Or, put another way “whoever gets sense loves his own soul” (ESV). As the remainder of that verse goes Solomon knew that “people who cherish understanding will prosper in their soul or discover good.”

No matter what translation we read Proverbs 19:8 in we learn that gaining wisdom concerning self-love, and loving ourselves as we love others involves being kind, considerate, forgiving, patient, gentle, and holding no wrong against ourselves leads us to bodily, mental, emotional, and spiritual prosperity and success. All biblical self-love leads to a loving relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Like any other quality self-love can become a sin when we practice it according to the world’s definition and standards. Practiced outside of Godly measure the devil can get hold of us and lead us to doing things that are prideful, arrogant, becoming self-absorbed, and the center of our own universe. In the world, self-love can mean there is a willingness to harm others in order to have our own way and focus on ourselves while forgetting the needs of others. We can see how these two loves are as far apart as night from day and east from west.

The kind of wisdom Solomon speaks of is not about the intellect but of the will. The way we treat ourselves says it all. When our self-love is based upon the word of God then self-love becomes respect for self and others, kindness toward self and others, healing messages towards self and others, gentleness toward self and others, forgiveness for self and others. This is the truest fulfillment of Jesus command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mk. 12:31).

Just as you said, Lord, no one ever hated his own body and loved someone else. Teach us the art of self-love in the way that is biblically correct and in line with practicing the command you have given us. Amen  

For Application:

What have you been taught about “self-love”? On a scale of 1-10 how good are you doing in this area?  

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