In today’s society, we are taught that we are deserving of anything and everything we want. We are told to love ourselves despite our flaws. We are told to embrace who we are and be unapologetically ourselves. While these words seem uplifting and positive, that could not be further from the truth.
Culture tells us that we are enough and we should love ourselves for that. We spend all day looking at ourselves in the selfies we take and the Snapchats we send. We cultivate an aesthetic Instagram page that makes our lives seem perfect from the outside looking in. We tell ourselves that we are perfect and deserving of good things in this world.
I hate to break it to you, but that is just not true. The self-love movement has been far more detrimental than you might imagine. Instead of selfishly putting our needs above the needs of others, we must follow Christ’s command and put others before ourselves. In John 15:12, Jesus says, “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.”
As believers, we are called to love God and love others. We are to be selfless and put the needs and wants of others before our own. We are not to be so consumed in ourselves that we negate the needs of the people we love. True love — biblical love — is selfless. 1 Corinthians 13 describes the 15 characteristics of biblical love. It is selfish of us to put ourselves before others. It is rejecting Christ’s command when we sacrifice their needs for our own.
Laura Edwards, assistant professor of psychology, said, “Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. So, in this light, it seems that self-love is key to loving others well. The Scriptures below address self-love directly or indirectly.If self-love means that I place myself first and others second (like the oxygen masks on airplanes), that is not always what we see in Scripture (Philippians 2) but I agree with this train of thought if we are talking about self-care in terms of developing sacred rhythms in our lives so we minister not from ‘fumes’ but from an outflow of God’s work in us.”
While it is important to develop rhythms in our lives so we are able to minister from within, it is also important to remember that we are to live with a posture of humility in everything we do.
We are constantly seeking validation from others to make ourselves feel better, whether that be about our appearances, school performance or even personality. We crave attention and affirmation from the world when we should be pouring out kindness and love back into the world, just as we were commanded. Instead of seeking love for ourselves, we should be actively loving those around us.
As much as we want to believe that we are enough, that is unfortunately not true. We are not born with an innate characteristic of being enough. In and of ourselves, we are nothing. If we follow the trend of society that leads us to believe that we are enough, that we are deserving, we are falling further and further away from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5 states, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”
In her book “You’re Not Enough (And That’s Okay),” author Allie Beth Stuckey says, “When we follow Christ, we are never at risk of ‘losing ourselves,’ because our identity is eternally found in him.”
The fact that we are not enough is perfectly displayed in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus was sent to earth to die for our sins. We were not enough. We will never be enough. We are nothing without Christ. Knowing this fact, it is wrong of us to believe that we are deserving of anything in this life that was granted to us.
We must love others and put them before ourselves. Instead of going through life living selfishly, we must be selfless. This goes against the grain of society. But isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? We are supposed to go head to head with societal standards and stand out because of our faith.
As Christians, we must stand up for the truth. Sometimes, our Christian duties seem daunting because of the judgment received from the world, but heavenly riches are much more rewarding than the fleeting happiness that comes from the world. We must all do as we are commanded: love God and love others.