Whether you’ve encountered the slogan in a movie or book, or have received the unsolicited advice of social media influencers, chances are you’ve been told that loving yourself is something you should do. But there isn’t a concrete definition of what it means to love yourself. It’s defined and used in a variety of ways.
What Is Self-love?
According to Merriam-Webster, Self-love is an appreciation of one’s worth or virtue. Another definition is having regard for one’s well-being and happiness. This type of self-love is different from narcissistic characteristics.
To define Self-love from a biblical perspective, we have to go back to the beginning.
God created the heavens and the earth and then he said, let us make man in our image, in our likeness…then God created man in his image. In the image of God, he created him, male and female, he created them Genesis 1:26-27. In verse 31, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, God created. He put them in charge of everything in his garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All was well with God’s creation until Adam and Eve decided to test God’s boundaries.
The enemy disguised as a serpent tempted Eve to doubt God’s goodness and eat the fruit from the tree that God told them not to eat. The serpent said to Eve, Did God say you must not eat from any tree in the garden? Genesis 3:2
Eve gave into temptation and ate the fruit. Then she offered some to her husband. Then both their eyes were opened, and they realized that they were naked. (Read the full story in Genesis Chapters 1-3)
Their disobedience to God had great consequences for their offspring and future generations including you and me. As their descendants, we inherited their sinful nature. All of us are born sinners…According to Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…that is our foundation.
In case you are wondering how all this is related to self-love, hang with me for a moment.
Different Aspects of Self Love
Self-love comprises four aspects:
- Self Awareness
- Self Worth
- Self Esteem
- Self Care
If one is missing, then you do not entirely have self-love. To have it, we should be aligned with these four aspects. The journey of achieving self-love does not differ from confronting your demons.
What Does The Bible Say About Self-Love?
So what does the Bible say about true self-love? Let’s learn some useful lessons from the 3 scriptures.
1. Love God First
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
According to Jesus, God should be at the top of your love list. Why? Because love comes from God (1 John 4:7-8).
He’s the originator of love, and the love you have for everything else flows from Him.
Next on your love list is yourself. Because how can you love your neighbor as you love yourself if you don’t know how to love yourself? You cant! It’s impossible.
2. Love God’s Creation
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14 (ESV)
God’s creation is wonderful; He says so Himself seven times in Genesis 1.
Since you’re God’s creation—because He handmade you—you’re wonderful. This is the literal Bible truth, no matter what you or anyone else thinks.
Loving a wonderful thing is natural. Go ahead, try not to love something or someone you honestly believe is wonderful. I dare you but you can’t do it.
So from this verse, you can see that loving yourself as God’s wonderful creation is normal, natural, and healthy.
3. Love Yourself
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourished and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.
Ephesians 5:29 (ESV)
Jesus loves the Church—loves you—so much, that He died to give you the opportunity to be part of it.
So as our 3 scriptures show, healthy self-love is natural and God-approved.
How To Love Yourself Biblically
As you now know, you can easily misunderstand self-love in the Bible. Thankfully, we’ve cleared up this issue.
But you probably also have some misconceptions about how to practice true love for yourself, especially in a biblical way. Let’s clear those up too.
Loving yourself doesn’t mean:
- Being selfish—always putting yourself first and focusing solely, or even mainly, on what you want.
- Being self-indulgent—doing what feels good, whenever you feel like it.
- Treating yourself—getting massages, pedicures, facials, or other personal pampering. Any or all of which you may be using to create false happiness with yourself and find peace.
- Ignoring your faults—which you do to avoid feeling bad about yourself.
I mean, real talk: do you treat people who you claim to love this way? If you do, is this real, honest love? No, it isn’t.
And if this is how you’re loving yourself right now, then maybe you don’t truly know how to love yourself.
Loving yourself means:
1. Being Kind To Yourself
Especially in the way you talk to yourself. This includes not saying mean things to yourself like, “I can’t believe I was so stupid and ridiculous.” Would you say this to someone you love? No, you wouldn’t.
Instead, with love for yourself and the grace of God, get curious about why you did what you did. Then say to yourself, “I see what I did there and I see why I did it. I’m sorry I did it and I wouldn’t choose to do it again.”
2. Keeping Your Word To Yourself
This means honoring the promises and commitments you make to yourself. Like power-walking around the block, as you promised yourself you would this morning. Or getting through the 2 hours of work-related reading you scheduled for this evening.
If you had made these promises to a friend, you wouldn’t ghost them when the time came. So don’t abandon yourself just because you don’t feel like doing what you committed to.
3. Doing What’s Best For Yourself, Even If It Hurts
One way is not allowing others to demean God’s wonderful creation—again…you! Another is practicing self-discipline because it’s what’s best for you. For example, passing on the last cookie because you’re already stuffed and don’t need it.
I’m willing to bet this is how you treat your loved ones: you’re kind, you honor your commitments to them, and you do what’s best for them, even when they don’t like it. Do you do the same for yourself?
If this is a hard question for you to answer, try this one instead: Is your relationship with yourself healthy, loving, and supportive?
How To Apply the Lessons On Self Love In The Bible
1. Start With God
Focus on the fact that He unquestionably loves you, just as you are.
When you fully grasp this truth, you’ll find yourself overcome by His grace. You’ll start loving yourself simply because He so graciously and mercifully loves you.
2. Know Your Worth
God’s love for you makes you one hundred percent worthy and worth loving. So practice loving yourself by:
- Being kind to yourself.
- Keeping your commitments to yourself.
- Doing what’s best for you, especially when it’s hard.
3. Pay It Forward
When you understand how much God loves you, you’ll want to share your newfound love with others. Yes, even when they don’t deserve it. It’s what God Himself does.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. Ephesians 2:4-5
When you get it for real—deep down in your soul—you’ll be so awed by God’s love and grace that you’ll find yourself loving others even bigger and better than you already do.
Bible Verses About Self-love
- 1 Peter 3:4
- Romans 2:8
- Romans 12:2
- Romans 15:1-3
- Philippians 2:3-4
- Mark 12:31
- John 13:34-35
- 2 Timothy 3:1-4
- Proverbs 16:5
- Proverbs 19:8
- Proverbs 22:4
- Proverbs 27:2
- Galatians 5:24-26
- Galatians 6:3
- James 2:8-9
- 1 Corinthians 10:24
- Matthew 7:12
- Matthew 16:24
Cultivating self-love is a lifelong journey, not a destination. It requires tending to the garden of our hearts, weeding out negativity, and nourishing ourselves with God’s word, grace, and the love of others. As we learn to love ourselves with the same compassion and forgiveness we extend to others, we become vessels of God’s love, spreading light and joy in the world.
Remember, dear reader, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Embrace the divine spark within you and blossom into the person God created you to be.