Dr. Stephen Phinney
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 and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (Mat 22:37-39)
Does the Bible contradict itself?
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25)
So which is it? Since the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, we seem to have a paradox on our hands.
The irony here is an assumption. We assume what Jesus is saying is the love you are to have for your neighbor is a by-product of self-love. Truth being said, despite the common teaching from pulpits today, they tout the first person you should love is yourself, which is a misinterpretation OF Matthew 22. Nowhere in scripture are we encouraged to self-love. In fact, as our second passage reveals, he who loves his life will lose it. Now the difficult part to accept is he who hates his life will keep it to life eternal. Out of all the years I have been in ministry, I have not heard one message preached on hating yourself. It is almost as if talking about hating yourself is taboo in our church today, while self-love is dominating the ideologies & twisted truths taught to people who “do bad things” is because they hate themselves. What a lie this is! People do “bad things” because they are consumed with themselves.
People who love themselves look out for number one.
The irony is people who are suicidal - think they hate themselves when in reality, they are indulgent IN self-love. It is a practical application to what Jesus said; he who loves his life loses it. Suicide is a love affair with self, and they are obsessed over self-love. When others don’t join them in this pity party, they commonly throw a temper tantrum – they “pull the trigger.” I am well aware after 40+ years in ministry that this truth will do a “fly-by” in most minds. It is my hope you will carefully consider this Truth.
Most freak out when others talk about suicide, and I don’t! So what do most people-helpers do? They attempt to convince the person it is good to love yourself. However, I use the passage John 12:25 to reveal and introduce them to eternal Life. I show them that the Lord is working relentlessly for them to accept they INDEED need to die; furthermore, I show them that this death should not be enacted through suicide. After that, I reveal how to go from the depressing life of the Adamic nature to being transferred into the new nature & Life in Christ. The results? I maintain a zero percentage of clients committing suicide.
Self-love always ends in death - in one madness method or another.
Self-love is the reason for “movements” within our culture – the MeMe Gospel, Social Gospel, Christianized Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, and many others. All tout loving yourself as their primary foundational ideology. God acknowledges this fleshly ideological misnomer called self-love, but He certainly does not teach it as an answer connected to His redemption. While it is an existing reality for all of humanity born into the Adamic nature, He understands this fleshly obsession is needed to lead a lost self-love people into eternal Life, which requires a death of sorts.
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Rom 6:5-7)
Death is the answer!
It is no news to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit that all of humanity is born into self-love. Each does not need to learn to love themselves or go for some “therapy” to maturate it. They/we are all born with it. It is the foundational building blocks of being a lost soul in need of Jesus’ eternal Life. The issue is NOT self-love, but rather it is the need for self-hatred. What does humankind classically do? They spend, and I mean they “spend” their life fighting, self-hatred. The odd thing is, self-hatred is the golden key for eternal Life. Either that, Jesus was messing with our minds. To that, I say – NOT!
Self-love is not a virtue; it is a demonic doctrine. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. (James 3:14-15)
Jesus does NOT accept you the way you are.
People who are consumed with self-love, or what James calls selfish ambition, practice demonic doctrines/beliefs. Ultimately they adhere to Jesus accepts them the way they are, and worst yet, He accepts their passion for loving themselves. Fact. Jesus does NOT accept us the way we are. Why would He work to bring humanity to the Cross for co-death, burial, and resurrection with Christ if that were the case? It isn’t the case at hand. There is one single roadblock to the “why” the masses avoid authentic salvation – self-love.
When we teachers use the passage of being accepted in Christ. It is an identity reference of how Jesus views us AFTER salvation. The reason so many people are sent to Hell, in the end, is because this group resisted ending one life to behold another – the eternal Life of Christ. According to our passage, this is done through hating yourself. I believe this is the greatest irony in the New Testament. While this is true, it is the primary foundation of all depraved thinking for some demonic reason.
Self-interest is a killer.
I have heard it preached for many years that to grow closer to God (God-love) and get involved in ministry (neighbor-love), they first have to learn to love themselves (self-love). Not only is this making a non-commandment into the first commandment, but it also propagates the lie of “feeling good about ourselves” helps us develop a deeper love-life with Jesus. What a lie. If Jesus has to wait until you feel good about yourself to advance His ministry in you, well, He would be waiting most of your life to get the Great Commission into the world. However, from the get-go, He put this misnomer in place. He said:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Mat 16:24-25)
Let’s view this from our topic's view of self-love.
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must love himself, reject his cross, then follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life must learn the power of self-love. Only then can they find the love of Jesus.
Really? In this, the majority of “Christianity” works to love themselves first and then consider walking with Jesus in ministry. The problem is self-love is never enough. Thus, most walk the earth while claiming Jesus as their Savior and remain impotent in community outreach – love your neighbor as yourself.
So, what does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?
If we answer this question by assuming that self-love is healthy, we will miss the point. On the other hand, if we answer the question based on the reality that people tend to put themselves first, love on themselves, and make sure that “number one” is taken care of first, maybe we should handle our neighbor in like manner. The emphasis is NOT on you but loving your neighbor while placing them first in all that you do. It might be in this we find our answer.
May the Lord be with you and bless and keep you in His love, not self-love, through the power of His Holy Spirit, as you are enriched in your relationships with your neighbors IN your walk with Jesus Christ. Then, only then, will you discover His ministry to your neighbors. Folks, this is why we are placed into indwelling salvation. Without this mindset, we will attempt to minister NOT by His strength, His power, but rather in a selfish form/replica of His strength, which we call self-love.
I hope you begin to experience more and more the power of His indwelling Love while understanding that self-love is fruitless and dangerous to your walk-in Christ. Do you want transformation through the power of God’s love? STOP making use of the demonic ideologies of self-love. Amen?