Should Believers Practice Self-love?


by Sis. Livingpraise Akpan

A quick Google search reveals that self-love can be defined as:

‘taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others’


‘not settling for less than you deserve.’

From the above definitions, we can see that self-love doesn’t sound like a bad idea. After all, how can one love others if he or she disdains themselves? So, it raises two important questions; does the Bible teach self-love? and what kind of love should a believer practice?

The Biblical View of Love (Rather Than Self-Love)

Some say that Jesus’ instruction to “love your neighbour as yourself” is proof that the Bible preaches or supports self-love. However, upon careful examination of the verses of scripture where this instruction was given, I believe we will learn otherwise.

30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)

Notice the following in the aforementioned scripture:

  • First, Jesus commands we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • Second, He doesn’t emphasize a person’s love for themselves. But almost in the fashion of someone who knows that it is natural and normal to love yourself, Jesus instead commands that we treat other people as well as we treat ourselves.

Additionally, in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), He illustrates what it means to love your neighbour as yourself. The priest and Levite’s refusal to help the man in need was not due to loving themselves too little; it was because they loved themselves too much and prioritized their interests above that of a stranger in desperate need of help.

In contrast, the Samaritan demonstrated true love by giving his time and money out of compassion. His focus was outward, not inward. This story exemplifies how we should love our neighbours as ourselves.

We are to take our eyes off ourselves and care for others. Christian maturity demands it.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3–4 (NKJV)

The Problem with the ‘Self-love Mantra’

The problem with self-love is that it does not support the practice of the sacrificial kind of love Jesus exemplified and that the scriptures command that his followers practice. Remember that it was love that caused God to send his son to die a gruesome death for the sins of all mankind (Romans 5:8; John 3:16) and in John 13:34 (NKJV) Jesus commands His disciples saying:

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Dear believer, we love others based on God’s abiding love for us in Christ (Romans 5:5). In response to this love, we share it with all whom we come in contact with (1 John 4:7-12). We don’t worry about loving ourselves because we understand that someone who is worried that he doesn’t love himself enough has the wrong focus and is selfish.

Loving others the way Christ has loved us sometimes requires that we sacrifice our time and comfort to serve and help others. Jesus did more for us when He paid the price for our sins, so we must be willing to imitate Him and love others as He has loved us—sacrificially, not putting our interests above the interests of others.

Let your concern be on loving God and serving others, not on yourself.

Leave a Comment