I recently came across a quote saying, “Self-love is not selfish, it’s essential”. And I’ll be honest, I couldn’t help but cringe. 

Quotes like these have become the norm on social media these days. I’m pretty sure you’ve been getting unsolicited advice on self love from your favorite influencer too. 

The self-love movement which has taken the world by storm aims to spread one gospel; that self-love is the key to unlocking true happiness and fulfillment.

But is it really?

What is self-Love?

Self-love is a phrase that is used in pop culture to urge people to embrace who they are and to accept themselves as they are without fear of judgment. 

More often than not, women with low self-esteem, low self-confidence, or even self-hatred are the target audience for our culture’s message of self-love.

The argument is that it effectively fights back against these things and that we can’t love others unless we don’t love ourselves first.

According to the psychological social movement, fulfillment comes from achieving self-actualization (remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we learned in school?). 

So how do you achieve self-actualization? Part of it is by doing the things that make you happy. And according to the self-love movement, your happiness and well-being should be your first priority.

A self love quote saying I love me.

However, Christians need to be mindful of how this claim differs from what the Bible says. 

Is Self-Love Biblical?

Yes, it is. Though, it doesn’t end there. It’s Biblical but it is not commanded. Matthew 22:39 is the verse that many cite as proof that the Bible endorses self-love. 

“You can’t pour from an empty cup!” so our culture believes. Therefore, it stands to reason that if we don’t love ourselves first, we can’t possibly love others. 

However, this school of thought misinterprets the text. “Love your neighbor as yourself” does not imply that you should love yourself first. 

Rather, Jesus acknowledges that you already do, therefore, setting the standard by which we should love others. But He doesn’t teach that ‘loving thyself’ is something that ought to be cultivated. 

In fact, it’s not something that needs to be taught. It’s inherent to human nature (Eph 5:28-29). Even those who have struggles with self, struggle because, in essence, they love themselves. Think about it.

Everyone has self-love. Jesus does not command it; He assumes it.
John Piper

Contrary to loving yourself first, the Bible encourages us to love others sacrificially just as Christ loves us:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 ESV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:16–19 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34–35 ESV

And when correctly understood, the Bible shows that the love of self is a disease that we should seek to be rid of in Christ. More than that, it commands that we should die to self:

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 
Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
He must increase, but I must decrease."
John 3:30 ESV

The psychological model says we don’t love ourselves enough. The biblical model suggests we love ourselves too much, which manifests itself in selfishness.
Randy Alcorn

On that note, I realize that there are many articles and devotionals on self-love from a Christian perspective encouraging women to find their value in God.  

However, labeling it self-love is quite misleading given that our culture depicts it in a manner that is inconsistent with Scripture.

The Danger of Self-Love

Let’s be honest, the love of self our culture promotes is one that encourages self-absorption. And it’s quickly propelling people to narcissism.

And the Bible has something to say about this kind of love:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-9 ESV

Based on these verses it shouldn’t come as a shock that the self-love movement is so popular in our day. And Paul, further states the kind of fruit to be expected from people who cultivate the love of self.

As you can see, there is a sharp contrast between the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Gal 5:22-23 and the kind of fruit the love of self produces because it is essentially idolatry. In this case, the worship of self and nothing good comes from idolatry.

On page 164 of his book, The Long Road out of Hell, a satanist by the name of Marilyn Manson writes, “Satanism is about worshipping yourself.” Now, I won’t go right off the bat and say those who are a part of this movement are Satanists. Certainly not.

However, I think it’s safe to say that they are promoting Satan’s agenda knowingly or unknowingly by encouraging us to pursue our happiness at all costs.

On the other hand, God calls us to pursue self-denial. And the truth is, you can’t pursue God and your happiness at the same time. One has to give.

Moreover, throughout the Bible, we see that God isn’t looking for people who are full of themselves. Instead, he is looking for people who are broken, meek, humble, and contrite at heart (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 5:5).

God finds pleasure in such people.

A quote against self love by Charles Spurgeon

So, Does the Bible Teach that We Should Hate Ourselves?

It’s worth noting that rejecting an obsession with self doesn’t mean that we should neglect ourselves. Not at all. Taking care of our physical and mental needs is paramount and wise.

It’s our responsibility to be good stewards of the bodies, minds, and souls that God has given to us. We honor God when we do so.  So yes! Take care of yourself, set boundaries where necessary, take time to rest, eat healthy, work out, and so on.

I also recognize that insecurity affects a lot of women. And perhaps you are one of them. The truth is, the Bible doesn’t write off such struggles either. Instead, it provides a stronger sense of security than the self-love movement ever could. 

If you feel a low sense of worth allow me to remind you that “Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8). And believe me, love can’t get any better than that. 

You carry that much value before God. 

Moreover, scripture teaches that as Christians absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). What a blessed assurance!!

Christ not only triumphed over sin and death but also set us free from the need to conform to what people or the world says about us. Instead, we are His children on whom He has lavished His great love (1 John 3:1).

Therefore, self-glorification and self-loathing have no place in us since God has freely given us a new identity as His children.


As Christians, we ought to follow the example Christ has set for us by selflessly giving of Himself at Calvary. 

The truth is, we cannot obey God’s commands if we are self-consumed. Obedience to God’s commands is only possible if we deny ourselves.

The same goes for loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. You will need to violate your self-love to love others like yourself. It’s a sacrifice. But I believe that’s the whole point. That we cannot keep that or any other commandment apart from Christ. 

Therefore, we shouldn’t let self-love rob us of the opportunity to experience God’s grace in helping us to love Him and others sacrificially. Therefore, bringing Him glory.

Check out: The Abundant Self podcast.


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  1. […] hope that this adds more value to the conversation and, just in case you need more insight on all matters Self-Love and more, be sure to check out Wanjiru’s blog, In Truth She Delights, a blog where she […]

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