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Dear Dr Matt:
My name is Syesha. I'm 18 years old and I live in Hawaii.
I'm slightly confused. Some of my friends say that I should love myself, that it's a good thing to do. But I other friends say that self-love just fosters an unhealthy selfishness.
I'm a Christian, and I want to do the thing that would please Jesus. Do you know of any scriptures that will give me a guide on this issue? Help me figure this out!
Loving yourself sounds like a good idea on the surface, but it is really just one of the false teachings of the world (1 Cor. 3: 19). Loving yourself is NOT a Christian Principle. Self-focus takes our eyes away from the superior focus that Christ declared (Matt. 6: 33).
Jesus taught that the key to finding your life is in losing yourself for His sake (Matt. 10: 39). One of the central ways to lose yourself is accomplished by keeping the Lord's great commandments: Love God and Neighbor with all heart, mind, and soul (Matt. 22: 36-40).
When Christ said to "love your neighbor as thyself," . . . the words "as thyself" do not translate into "love yourself" or "self-love." Why so? Because the pure love of Christ, a.k.a. Charity, "seeketh not her own" (1 Cor. 13: 4-5).
When Christ spoke the words "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mark 12: 30, 31), He was referring a prior teaching given in His Sermon on the Mount—the Golden Rule (Matt. 7: 12). In other words, our love for others should be given in the same way that we would have others love us.
The Savior's new commandment to "love one another" (John 13: 34) happens naturally as we live by the Spirit! For "love" IS a "fruit" of having the Spirit with us (Galatians 5: 14-22). When we have the Spirit of God to guide us and assist us, we intuitively feel to do good and be loving—just as fruit naturally flourishes from a well-tended tree.
Again, the key to finding your life is by losing your life for His sake—this is the superior focus that is far above . . . "self-love." Further, the scriptures teach that losing yourself in love and service to God and loving and serving your fellow beings are expressions of love that are exactly equal to each other:
"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom;
So better than "loving yourself" . . . is loving God and neighbor with all heart, might, mind, strength, and soul--a love that gives all that you've got!
There are those who will say, "but what about me? shouldn't I think about me, . . . occasionally? Here's a key principle that requires faith in Jesus Christ to live: The Lord will take care of "me" and "you" . . . as we take care of His Kingdom.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
This is what Christ meant when He taught this paradox: "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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