The American culture is obsessed with self-esteem and self-love.
It’s been this way for far too long. I started hearing about self-esteem when I was a kid. Now it seems to be the most important thing on the education system’s agenda – maybe because it’s so easy to teach.
Self-love doesn’t need to be encouraged.
It’s not, as the famous son says, “The Greatest Love of All,” despite my own personal fondness for both the composer, George Benson, and the artist who had a big hit with it, Whitney Houston.
In fact, look up self-love in the dictionary. What are the definitions?
- the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.
- conceit; vanity.
I would agree with all three.
So, why this sudden obsession with loving oneself?
It was a fad started in 1956 by psychologist Erich Fromm who postulated that loving oneself is different than being egocentric. He also suggested that to be able to love another person required one to first love oneself. It tickled the ears of human beings.
This article is adapted from Joseph Farah’s book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.” If you like it, consider reading the book.
But it’s not how God sees things.
In Deuteronomy 6:5, we’re instructed to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Jesus reaffirmed this: “The first of all the commandments is … And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind, and with all they strength, this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
Loving oneself is not the secret to loving others. Loving God is.
The self-love/self-esteem model is the gospel of man, not the gospel of the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus tells us, “Whoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
The gospel, or good news, is not about us. It’s about Jesus and His monumental sacrifice to atone for our sins, if we will accept that sacrifice through repentance – which means turning away from sin, not once but forever.
Self-love and self-esteem are inextricably linked with the sin of pride. In this age, pride is celebrated, but God reveres humility.
Proverbs 16:18 tells us that “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
It’s not just true of individuals. It’s true of nations too. In Ezekiel 30:6 we read: “Thus saith the Lord; they also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Syene shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord God.”
Even ancient Israel, the nation God chose to be a beacon of light to the world, the nation He set apart and the land to which He committed the holy oracles, fell because of the sin of pride, as we learn in Hosea: “And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity: Judah also shall fall with them.” (Hosea 5:5)
Even the elect can be “lifted up with pride” and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6)
And, of course, Satan himself was cast out of heaven because of the sin of pride.
So, why are we inculcating pride in the form of “self-love” and “self-esteem.” There’s no shortage of either. There’s no shortage of pride. There’s no shortage of narcissism. There’s no shortage of self-adulation.
In fact, self-love is the only kind of love there’s just too much of.