The Biblical Case for Loving Yourself

selfPicking back up with Humble Pie Week on…

I screwed up yesterday. I missed a lunch with a friend. Spaced it. Sesame Street’s Forgetful Jones would be proud.

You might not think it a huge deal. My friend doesn’t. He and I have been friends for many years, and he’s hardly a petty man. We just rescheduled.

But you know how it is: our frustration is proportional to how highly we esteem the person we disappointed, and this guy pegs my scale. Plus, I want to be a fully reliable person, and this memory lapse business is all too common. I’d been looking forward to the lunch all week, remembered it two hours prior, even set a phone alarm. And of course it dodged all those layers: my phone managed to get buried on my desk and have its vibrate turned off by my pocket at some point. Fabulous.

And just to add insult to injury, the very next hour revealed an important task I’d forgotten to do for my boss.

Needless to say, the day was sliding into Beat Yourself Up territory on a greased pole.

As if that ever changes anything.

And given how brutally hard I am on myself, with the failure-barrages of marriage and ministry still hopefully ahead of me, one thing is clear: I’m going to have to start loving myself.

Loving myself.

Whaaaaa? you say. Loving yourself? That’s not right. We should be dying to ourselves, becoming less selfish. Being proud and putting ourselves first isn’t Biblical at all!

You’re right.

The catch is…that’s not love. Pride isn’t love. Self-focus isn’t love. We have love’s definition down in black and white, in 1 Corinthians 13. Sure, this is a bit of a “war over words” that I’m engaging in, but maybe love is a word we should defend. Why should we fear applying proper, Biblical love to ourselves? When is the last time we even tried?

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Love is patient…

Some folks are a little too patient with themselves, not really moving towards holiness with any haste. Patience does not mean complacency.

And yet…even those who are rushing towards holiness will need God’s patience. None of us are fast enough. What if we asked God to help us share in his patience toward us? Would we stop beating ourselves up? Would we accept that we are en route, under renovation, and start tackling sanctification in grace and not anger?

…love is kind.

Same thing. I’m not presently doing well at this. Life has pointed out even more failures since yesterday (of course), and it’s taking all I’ve got to avoid raking myself over coals of self-reproach. That’s always been my motivation – abuse Present Brandon and Future Brandon will turn out better. Theoretically.

But God restored Peter three times, one for each denial. It changed Peter. We’re talking the Christ who told the adulteress she was not condemned. God reserves the right to get harsh if needed, but still, there is immense kindness in him.

Shame and guilt only tear down; they don’t achieve change very effectively. Conviction is different than shame. It lifts us up. It calls us forward. It says “be who you truly are in Christ” – a new creation, already but not yet.

We can be kind to ourselves when we fail, for God is kind to us.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Straightforward. If you envy or boast, you aren’t loving yourself. You’re just sinning. God has plenty of words about how pride brings downfall, not redemption.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…

Again, love others and you love yourself. If loving others comes at the expense of helping ourselves, as it so often does, then we trust Matthew 5, where Jesus reassures us that he hasn’t forgotten about our reward.

…it is not easily angered…

Some of us get angry with ourselves at the drop of a hat. Perhaps it’s a habit we picked up from home. (I did not.) But it goes back to patience and kindness – if God is not behaving a certain way towards us (and he is slow to anger, despite all our “watch out for lightning” jokes), why do we behave that way towards ourselves?

…it keeps no record of wrongs.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to forget all the awful things we’ve done, the foolishnesses we’ve committed? The cross lets us do that. Give them to God. Stop letting Satan hammer you with your past. Jesus died to give you a future.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Truth is important. I do have to be honest with myself about how I’m doing. There’s no room for fooling myself, or neglecting sober judgment (Romans 12:3). That isn’t love.

It always protects…

Guard your heart. Don’t let dark, frivolous, or worldly things in. Take refuge in Christ. Use your Sabbath. Care for your body. Be willing to let a few people down for the sake of your rest or walk, if God so directs. You’re no good to anyone burnt out.

…always trusts…

I don’t trust myself. But I trust the Holy Spirit who indwells me (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:11) and can talk to the Father better than I (Romans 8:26, 27).

…always hopes, always perseveres.

I have great hope that God isn’t finished with me yet (Philippians 1:6), and I will stay committed to that sanctification.



Whew. This blogging thing is quite the God tool. I needed that. Maybe I’ll keep writing…

You’re forgiven. You’re dearly loved.

So love yourself.

33 thoughts on “The Biblical Case for Loving Yourself

  1. You don’t trust yourself, you trust the Holy Spirit who indwells you. I like that. I’m that way too. I say God is committed to our sanctification far more than we are, and will finish the good work he’s begun in us. When he’s finished, we’ll love everyone perfectly, including ourselves. Until he’s finished, with especially the forming of Christ in us, so it’s no longer us doing the living, but Christ living in us, we give things our best shot and fail continually. But it’s a good experience, and everything’s working together for good, he humbling us and conforming us to the image of our big brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for this, I have been mulling over this issue myself this past week as I have been told repeatedly to ‘take care of myself’ and I am trying to work out what that means for a Christian. Interesting – had never thought of the Corinthians passage in relation to oneself. As a follower of Christ and wanting to ‘deny myself, pick up my cross and follow him’, it’s hard at times to know what acts of self sacrifice can become just too much and when we bear one another’s burdens, how many burdens are just too heavy. I am grateful that God has by His word and His Spirit thoroughly equipped us for every good work and I can do all things through Him who gives me strength..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey Brandon! I absolutely love this. I will submit, serve, and sacrifice until my face is numb from pleasing, yet rarely take time for myself. Yesterday, I gave myself permission to relax. I took a long bath, which made the 15 minute out the door showers feel like a one night stand. Anyhow, it is comforting to know that I am not in this alone. Also, I am learning not to just love, the 2 Corinthians 13 kind of love, but also consider my motives whilst loving: acollades, reciprocation, acceptance are not the reasons to love. We are to love as Christ loves because He lives in us and we are known by our fruit. Thanks for the encouraging reminders.


  4. I missed lunch with a friend also — only this friend was one of my law school professors with whom I have shared lunch once a month for many years. We later rescheduled and have enjoyed our visit, but I was beyond embarrassed when she sent her text message “I have a table, where are you?” about 30 minutes after our lunch was to begin. Believing in the providence of our God, there was some reason that I was not supposed to make that appointment … perhaps I will know it in the future. For now, just embarrassment when I remember that text.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If we love as God love then that love is unconditional. For me finding self-love came in the form of self-acceptance. I haven’t heard my husband say “Stop beating up on yourself, Pamela!” in a very long time now.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You did it again, Mr. Adams. You had me at first. This post is a great way to look at how love should be. In fact, a couple of Sundays ago in Sunday School, our teacher had us do an assignment on I Corinthians 13 – every where it says Love, he left it blank, and told us to read it instead and replace Love with our name – Barbara is patient, Barbara is kind. I have a whole lot to grow into. It is quite eye opening because we see how much growth is still needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Brandon. I found your post very thought provoking. I have always struggled with the concept of self care as a Christian vs “dying to self.” You are right. God loves me, he loves me enough to die for me, therefore he wants me to care for myself sensibly AND to love sacrificially. I remember a preacher speaking to people who felt their testimony or their story wasn’t “good ” enough, or “exciting” enough to be shared with others. He said “God does not have the same story with anyone else in the universe as the story he has with you. So he wants you to be willing to tell it, because no one else can.” In order to do that, I need to look after myself so I am ready to serve, and to be the person he wants me to be for him.

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      • Of course it isn’t. That chapter defines love toward others. At the same time, in our natural fallen state we love ourselves intensely. As believers we are to die to ourselves, yet much of today’s evangelicalism teaches the false gospel of,self- fulfillment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I see you are led by vigilance towards bad doctrine, which I always value.

        Self-fulfillment isn’t love. Not according to 1 Corinthians 13, which tells us love is not self-seeking. The only true good for us is to be shaped into Christ’s image, becoming humble and truth-rejoicing. I’d hoped I’d made that clear in my 10th paragraph, in which I specifically mentioned “dying to ourselves”. We can be kind and patient towards ourselves even in the midst of that process, for God is.


      • Perhaps your ‘Biblical’ case for loving yourself is implied rather than explicit in scripture? We don’t need to be to hard on ourselves lest we drift into legalism as we cooperate in our sanctification, yet at the same time we need to hate the sin remaining after we believe. There’s a balance. Lots to discuss, my friend. Know that my comments are also flavored with an older guy perspective. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hating sin and loving yourself are one and the same, for sin does not benefit us (1 Cor. 6:12). Your point about an implicit Biblical point is fair. Thanks for stopping by, always appreciate input from a father in the faith.


      • Not sure I understand what you are trying to say. It sounds like you are saying that if you hate sin you love yourself? If I read that in the spirit you meant, I think it could be stated “Hating ‘sin’ doesn’t mean that you must hate ‘yourself’. Loving ourselves as Christians is quite different than the loving of ourselves we are born with, that is tainted from the Fall.

        I would also still offer that we all love ourselves, straight from the womb, do we not? You make some excellent points. I do think that maintaining a ‘Biblical’ sense of self esteem is a more profitable way to discuss how we are to view our sense of ‘self’. ‘Love yourself’ can be an unintentionally ‘loaded’ expression. May I’ll talk about that over at The Battle Cry. Thanks for stopping by that little corner of the blogosphere. Come again and discuss, my friend!


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