“Banned Phrases” is a recurring and fantastic feature here at Unapologetic. They are phrases that are oft repeated, and either: annoying (i.e. the word “yummy”) and/or ignorant (here). So I, the king of quite alot (ok – king of nothing) have banned them!
Today’s Banned Phrase: “You have to learn to love yourself.”
That phrase produces the same gastro-burn as the word “yummy.” Unless its a grown man using the word “yummy” – then it’s a HYPER burn. Figure out another word. Sheesh.
Everywhere in therapeutic culture we’re told “you have to learn to love yourself”, and “the greatest love of all is to love yourself.”
First of all, let’s dispel the notion that there is any truth in this statement at all, Biblically speaking.
1. Nowhere, NOWHERE in the Bible are we told to love ourselves.
2. For God, it’s a “given” that we love ourselves. “Got a verse for that David?” Actually, I’ve got DOZENS.
I’ll give you 3:
a. God said “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” Eph. 5:2
b. And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (as in “like I, Jesus, already KNOW you love yourself. So your neighbor? Love them like that.).Matt. 22:37-39
c. God said “For people will be lovers of self…” 2 Tim 3:2. Warning – focusing on loving yourself is bad, bad voodoo – if this describes you, Paul says in verse 4, you are to be “avoided”.
d. Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him DENY himself and take up his cross and follow Me”. Matt. 16:24
e. I could go on all day – but that would be ridiculous. I just gave you 4 instances (only promised 3) which speak of our universal self love. This “self love” that pop psychology says we need to “learn”, is actually the love that Christ wants to vanquish.
3. Who says we need to learn to love ourselves? Not Jesus! WRONG religion! It’s this guy:
Buddha, not Jesus, said “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Oh, and Deepak Chopra preaches a pretty decent self love gospel. And Shirley MacLaine. They also think we’re gods in the making. But conspicuously absent from Christ’s comments – anything approaching even a hint that you need to “learn” self love.
4. Self love is the problem Jesus overcame on the cross.
My young kid busted out laughing because of the sheer stupidity of that song. I mean really? Really? The greatest love of all is loving yourself? You mean to tell me the GREATEST love of all is pure, unadulterated narcissism? Selfish, self-centered, self-seeking love? Really? Put that on your tombstone and see how it works: “He loved himself more than anyone else.”
“But David! I DO hate myself. I hate myself for my cellulite thighs, the jobs I’ve lost, the bad relationships I’ve had.”
Wrong. If you truly hated yourself, you’d be glad that you have dimpled thighs, a bad employment record and ruined relationships. You’d say “I’m so glad I stunk at that job and got fired, because I HATE myself.” When you hate someone you wish bad on that person. You’d celebrate the bad that happens to you.
But you don’t. It hurts. It makes you sad. Just like it would if those bad things happened to anyone else you truly loved. You love yourself.
Bottom line? Jesus is the something. I am the nothing. The greatest love of all (besides Christ’s love for us), is when we learn to deny self, cease dwelling on self, quit focusing on self, and love the Lord our God, with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Don’t worry about loving yourself. Learn to love Jesus. And everything else will fall into place.
In Christ Alone,