Some people will tell you that the most important thing you can do in life is to learn to love yourself, or that you cannot love others until you love yourself. But self-love is ultimately unsatisfying. It is fruitless. It is lame. It is barren.
Self-love gives nothing but sucks the life out of everything in order to survive. It is fragile, beggarly and weak.
And, because we are not the loveliest things around – and we know it – the pursuit of self-love is a pursuit that leads invariably to despair and bitterness.
The Bible never emphasises the virtue of self-love. On the contrary, it extols the virtue of self-forgetfulness. The kind that comes by being enthralled by another.
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
Turns out, our deepest pleasures and our deepest joys in life are not those moments spent in front of the mirror, enjoying what we see.
Rather, our deepest joys are in those moments when we are captivated and enthralled by something other than ourselves, something larger, more glorious, more terrifying and more beautiful than ourselves.
This truth is borne out by the almost universal experience of anyone who has ever held a newborn baby, or watched the lightning crack over cane fields, or stood beneath a giant wave or climbed to the top of a great high mountain.
It is something we see in the nature of children. Children who have no idea what their hair may be doing today because they are totally engrossed in a beetle, or a flower, or a thunderstorm.
These are the more glorious joys because they are joys that point to the handiwork of a glorious Creator.
Self-love is bunk. You were made to enjoy beauties far more beautiful than yourself, glories far more glorious than yourself and a love far superior to your best attempts to love yourself.
The only love that could ever satisfy the human heart is the love that comes from outside of you, that is free and undeserved.
It looks a lot like a wonderful marriage in which you constantly forget yourself altogether because you’re too busy adoring the one you’re with.
This is the love that has come down from Heaven. It is the love we see in the face of Jesus Christ. A love that was willing to die for those He loved.
And it is this same love that begins to emerge in our own hearts when, having met Jesus, we forget ourselves in favour of remembering others (1 John 4:20).