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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Bob Jones University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Bob Jones University

The Collegian

Editoral: Loving ourselves?

Good theology requires the ability to count. Unfortunately, many social media theologians skip this important skill when they talk about love.

Popular influencers scoop up likes by telling people to love themselves first and recite daily affirmations about their own worthiness: “I am worthy of love; I am attractive; I am strong.” Unless we love ourselves, they say, we cannot love others.

When a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was greatest, Jesus replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38).

Jesus continued, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:29).

Then Jesus stopped. He had no need to add a third commandment, because “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40).

The two commandments were to love God and to love others. Jesus gave no third commandment to “love yourself.” Loving oneself was assumed, and it therefore described the way to love others.

Of course, as frail humans, we need to take care of our bodies physically by getting good rest, food, hydration and exercise so that we can support those around us instead of burdening them. But popular concepts of self-love go far beyond basic bodily self-care and also promote self-adoration as the key to loving others.

However, reveling in one’s own supposed worthiness feeds conceit, not compassion. Rather than meditating on ear-tickling self-affirmations, we should seek to align our view of ourselves with what God says about us.

We must start by meditating on the greatest commandment, to love God. God is worthy of all love, admiration, worship, glory, honour and praise (Rev. 4:11).

This God made us in His own image (Gen. 1:27). Stamped with God’s fingerprint, every human is therefore worthy of respect, so we have no right to harm others (Gen. 9:6). To disrespect an image-bearer of God is to disrespect God (James 3:9).

Yet the Bible also explains that God’s image has been stained by sin. We are fallen creatures in desperate need of a Savior to save us from ourselves. We are naturally estranged from God and worthy of death (Rom. 3:10-19, 1:32). Our pervasive sinfulness means that our very best works of righteousness are worthless in God’s eyes (Isa. 64:6).

Herein lies the beauty of the Gospel: because of our sinfulness, we are unworthy of love, yet God loves us anyway. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Saying we are worthy of love unravels the very core of the gospel.

God loved us, not because of anything we did to merit love, but because He made us in His image, and when He saw His image marred by sin, He set about to restore it to its original glory through the gospel. “But we all, with open face behold- ing as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

The Bible nowhere commands us to love ourselves. In fact, one passage even seems to condemn self-love (2 Tim. 3:2). Rather, the Bible commands us to love God because He is altogether worthy. Realizing that we are unworthy should make us stand in awe of the God who loved us anyway and inspire us to love others the same way.

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Editoral: Loving ourselves?