Our culture is all about self-love, but what does Scripture say about it? Is it prideful? Sinful? Check out these Bible verses on self-love.
Self-love is such a trendy topic these days in every area of life.
You’ll find all kinds of messages out there like:
- “Love your body at any size!”
- “Be your own best friend!”
- “When life is hard, just smile at yourself and know you are good enough.”
The Brain & Behavior Foundation defines self-love as, “a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.”
I have to admit, some of these things sound right (or at least close to right) but many of these messages still send up warning flags to me.
This definition says our appreciation for ourselves should depend on our actions (“that grows from actions…”) and, if my love for myself relies only on the love I can earn or deserve…well, I’m sunk!
I mess up and fall short every single day, so that would create a very unsteady, unreliable self-love to take me through life.
As Christians, people who believe God created us, I just don’t think we can define self-love without including Christ in our definition.
That’s what spurred me to write this post. Hearing the self-love messages being passionately shared in the world and knowing they kind of apply to me, but desperately wanting to be rooted in what God says about self-love in the Bible.
So, instead of following my gut or taking my word for it, let’s dive in and see what Scripture says on the topic.
Scriptures On Self-Love
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
This is always the first verse that comes to my mind that mentions loving yourself (well, loving your neighbor as yourself). Actually, the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself is brought up eight times in the Bible!
Here are the other 7 Bible verses that mention loving your neighbor as yourself.
“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Obviously, this concept is important since it is repeated so much, so let’s dive in a bit deeper into what loving your neighbor as yourself actually means.
There are two important things to note here:
1 – First, before loving your neighbor as yourself, you have to love God with your whole self.
You can’t move on to the next step without this foundation (which is probably the biggest missing piece in the messages from our culture). Experiencing God’s love comes first.
When you have fully experienced God’s love first, that means you’ve experienced God’s grace. You are allowed to be imperfectly human and still dearly loved, not doing a single thing to deserve it. But, when you experience God’s grace, it should set your heart on fire, feeling so undeserving and overwhelmingly blessed, that you so badly want others to experience that reckless love, as well.
That’s where loving your neighbor as yourself comes in. You can’t help but pass it on!
2 – Loving your neighbor as yourself is a tricky message to understand because the Bible is also full of encouragement to “die to self” and live selflessly.
So, how are we supposed to balance those two things that seem to be stated as opposite extremes? How can we love selflessly but also love as we love ourselves?
I think an important part to remember here is that God created you to have value (check out these reminders of your identity in Christ). Just because you value your neighbor doesn’t mean that you lose any value (on that note, check out these reminders on the misunderstood concept of humility).
So, the question then becomes, are you allowing yourself to experience the same grace, compassion, kindness, and gentleness that you are extending to others?
In my dive into these Bible verses on loving yourself, the above verses are really the only ones specifically mentioning loving yourself.
There is one more that I’ve included below that touches on the topic of taking care of yourself.
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that our quest should not be to love ourselves more.
Sometimes the messages we hear about how to love ourselves more lead to a type of self-obsession, thinking about ourselves and only ourselves all the time in a quest for happiness.
Instead, we should be aiming to allow ourselves to fully experience God’s love for us.
And, really, could there be anything better than that?
How could we, in our imperfect broken humanity, possibly love ourselves more than God in His flawless, unconditional love for us?
So, the next section includes some Bible verses on God’s love for you (just some of them – there are a LOT!), which will hopefully help you fix your eyes on Him, the Author and Perfector of the most perfect love you could ever experience.
Bible Verses on God’s Love For You
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1
1 John 4:7-8
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7-8
1 John 4:9-11
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:9-11
1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19