The Modern Teaching of “Self Love” vs Scripture

Songdove Books - Grape Vine

It’s no mystery to those who have been following my blog for the past few years, that the idea of entering the world of coaching began taking shape in 2019.  The original goal was nutritional coaching in the world of food-as-medicine, I found a Christian online college teaching Natural Health, Biblical wellness, whole food nutrition, and herbology, and set about trying to find the funds to pay for it.  When a job fell through due to an unscrupulous boss, I looked over my published books and wanted to use The Poor Man’s Budget: a 5 Week Course – Learning to Live Within Your Means as a way to teach the lessons God taught me about living low-income as a single mother of two kids (who both graduated in 2013) and a way to raise funds for the natural health/food as medicine Biblical coaching I wanted to get into.  I sat in on a business acceleration week with a Pastor’s Wife who is also a business coach, re-examined what I’d written in this course and realized both the focus and the means.  The focus for teaching in a revamped manner was a triplet of coaching pillars: Taming the Clock, Taming the Cupboard and Taming the Coin.  The target market were other Christian single mothers like myself who had school-aged kids.  This all got hammered out by the end of March 2020, and mid-March I began a basic Life Coaching Certification course from New Skills Academy and got the certificate mid-April 2020.

I joined a number of Christian business groups around Facebook in 2020, all in an effort to learn more about the world of coaching from a Christian perspective, but as the months wore on, things began to get really uncomfortable! Sure, pushing myself through 6 weeks of learning to get reasonably ok with showing up on video was uncomfortable.  Paying out for a course on how to do challenges to build one’s business wasn’t comfortable. But these were far easier to stomach than the New Agey, self-focussed memes, blurbs, teaching videos, and lists that were showing up in these groups!  A big one I have had a very hard time wrapping my head around, that those who claim not to support the Prosperity Gospel will figure out ways to justify, is the concept of self-love!

We’re talking about the modern concept of “me time”, things like pampering one’s self, taking one’s self out for a treat for having passed a business goal, not being ashamed of enjoying “the finer things” in life, etc.  On the surface, why shouldn’t anyone NOT enjoy the “finer things” when they come? Who doesn’t like celebrating a win, a goal, or a challenge overcome?  Anyone can enjoy an evening in the jacuzzi, but is this really how we as believer should look at ourselves?  Does this fly in developing nations where we have brothers and sisters in Christ? How about the Persecuted Church? Or are they lesser believers because their faith hasn’t brought them the good things in life?  Should we feel shame at the blessings our hard work gets us?  If God is honoured first, no shame, and Scripture does show those who were blessed with wealth, but not always blessed with ease.  If Self is first, and so many of these teachings put Self first, then yes, there should be shame!  Why?

I’ve been troubled by these teachings for over a year now, but have struggled with putting it all into words.  I left Facebook in February 2021, having joined MeWe a few months earlier.  Recently, a member of one group I joined, had this to say about the concept of self-love, what Scripture says, doesn’t say, and where the skewing is coming into play.  I asked if I could publish what they said and was given permission.  This person likes to liberally use Scripture, so get your Bible out:

Jerry B.
Member of Conservative Christians CC TALK 🇺🇸 on MeWe
Originally Posted August 30, 2021

“Self Love”

This is a study on the subject of “Self-Love” although it may appear to be exhaustive, it is not completely. However, it is absolutely accurate and scriptural.

As an attempt to clarify a biblical position on an unbiblical teaching, I need to point out some scriptural truths, to hopefully put things in order.

The Bible clearly says that “God is not the author of confusion” (I Cor. 14:33a) so it is with this in mind, I hope explain what the Bible actually says in regard to this subject.

I need to also bring to mind what the scripture says regarding the matter for false teachers and their doctrine.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (I Tim 4:1)

The Bible also instructs us to be aware of this truth when it tells us

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:11).

Be careful when someone preaches things that are easy to accept, and tickle the ears. Things that are what you want to hear.

2nd Tim. 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Do not look at the works that these people may do, look at how they teach and preach the Word of God!

Matt. 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Another verse says that

(II Cor. 11:13) “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” And finally “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;”

This list sounds pretty bad, but it concludes by saying,

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:1-5).

It says that even though they are doing all these ungodly things, still they have a form of godliness. Among these evil practices is listed “Lovers of their own selves” i.e. Self Love.

What do the scriptures actually say about self-love? It is NOT what is commonly taught today. I had an individual tell me to support the idea that the bible teaches self-love, to look at a few verses that say to love thy neighbor as thyself,

(Matt. 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Rom. 13:9b, Gal. 5:14, and James 2:8)

Please take the time and look at each of these verses and the context that they are written. In every example that the Bible speaks of loving thy neighbor as thyself, not once are we commanded to love ourselves, not once. We are however, commanded to love our neighbor. I don’t usually go to the greek to understand English. However, many that use the greek to cast doubt on what the Bible says, so they can change the words and meaning of the scripture, will degrade me as inferior for not doing so. The Greek word for love here is “agapaō” which is derived from “agan” and if you want to be even more ridiculous it is “ăyav” which is to love in a social or moral sense. The scripture is not telling you to “love” in a way other than to care for your neighbor. If you despise something or abhor something you will not care for it. You will allow it to fall into disrepair and to end up in the garbage. As you bathe yourself, feed yourself, take care of yourself, so should you care about your neighbor. I am not saying for you to bathe your neighbor. However if your neighbor has need, and you are aware of it, as you would care for yourself, you should care for your neighbor. This is what the scripture teaches. As II Tim. 3:2 condemns self-love, so does the verse prior to Galatians 5:14

(13b) “but by love serve one another.”

Serve here literally means “to be a slave to (lit or fig, invol. or vol.) be in bondage to” again for those that refuse to accept the Bible as an authority the greek word is Soυλενω dŏulĕuō. Of course I am referring to the Koine Greek, which was the common person’s language at the time of the New Testament was being written. The idea here is to serve others not self, as self-love pushes. Other verses that instruct us to put others first are

Gal. 6:2, Mark 10:43-45, Rom. 15:1-2, I Cor. 10:24 Phil. 2:4-8, I John 3:17-18.

Let me clarify I Corinthians 10:24 in the KJB

“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.”

This verse is NOT telling you to seek someone else’s wealth. It is in fact telling you to seek to make others wealthy not to make yourself wealthy. All of these verses and others instruct us to put others first and not to focus on self and what we want. Again, contrary to what is being put forth today, God through His Word is dividing flesh from Spirit, Flesh says take care of self. Spirit says take care of your neighbor. As God commonly instructs us to go against our fleshly or natural tendency, i.e. wives submit to your husbands, and Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. This seemingly goes against our natural predisposition, Yet God instructs us to do just that, to take care of your neighbor as you would take care of your own needs.

What is self-love? According to “mind bodygreen” people that seek to have self-love are to “create a self-love ritual” among other things. Merriam Webster defines it as “love of self” which is pretty self-explanatory. But what does the Bible say? Anyone that wants to know what love is in the Bible, typically goes to I Corinthians 13. I Cor. 13:5 says that love seeketh not her own. Verse 4 says love vaunteth (to boast; to make vain display of one’s own worth, to brag, to talk with vain ostentation) not itself, Nowhere in I Corinthians 13 do you see love expressed as being toward yourself, it is an action verb meaning it is directed toward others. It is actually a contradiction of terms to love oneself. I say nowhere in I Cor. 13, but in fact, nowhere in the scripture do you see love as being directed toward yourself.

Self-love is a term and practice brought on by the world or Satan i.e. doctrines of devils, it goes in direct contradiction to what the scripture teaches. We are to be self-less, not self-centered, which is what self-love is a practice of doing. The bible teaches we are to put others needs before our self. The bible does not teach self-deprivation. It does not teach that we are not worthy of food, or taking care of our self, just that we are to put others, before our self. At the beginning of this paper, I reminded us of I Corinthians 14:33a says that God is not the author of confusion. If someone teaches a worldly teaching and claims it is of God, when the Bible very clearly teaches otherwise i.e. II Tim. 3:2, you would do good to reject the heresy, and cling to the truth.

The world has so infected the “church” that sacrifice, holiness, church attendance, even reverence for the Word of God is all but gone. People no longer want to be convicted of sin, they want comfort and convenience. Most don’t want to please God, they want God to please them. This is not an attack on any one, just a clarification of a biblical teaching, and an attempt to help those that seek to honor God, to better do so.

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A very good explanation for the struggle.  I may be an author, but that doesn’t mean I have words for everything.  This was a good study.  I pray it helps others who have been hearing these modern teachings, feeling the tug that they are wrong, and needing Scriptural backing that hasn’t been skewed to fit the teaching.

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