The idea is pleasing because everyone gets down on themselves, or feels depressed about some mistake or foolish thing …. But can we really love ourselves? Isn’t that sort of what “Honest John” Foulfellow said to Pinocchio? “You need to live a little,” “You deserve a break!” Isn’t all that just an expression meant to convey “you really need to burn that conscience right out of you.”
What is love, anyway?
According to the Bible, love is defined by sacrifice. Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends. By this we know love, that God laid down his life for us… both written by the apostle of Love, John.
Can I “lay down my life” for myself? Can I sacrifice for myself?
Typically, we might have a responsibility for money, which we shrug off, sacrificing duty to indulge ourselves. Or, we might have a choice of providing for a friend, or indulging ourselves …
I don’t think we can really sacrifice for ourselves.
There is an example, however, of preserving yourself so that you can be of the most help to others: Lifeguard training.
Odd as it may sound, if a lifeguard is rescuing someone near a pier, and the waves are pushing them toward a large, wooden beam, the lifeguard is to keep the victim between himself and the beam. Why? Because the victim’s bruises and broken bones can be mended when the lifeguard safely gets him to the shore. Getting him to the shore is far less likely if the lifeguard is pummeled unconscious and they both need rescue.
I think we need to watch out for instances where we throw ourselves in the path of large beams, thinking we’re saving some poor victim from another problem, but we’re making ourselves incapable of further assistance.
That’s not really “loving ourselves,” it’s just maintaining our usefulness.
Jesus often turned the crowds away, or went to a solitary place to refresh His spirit in communion with God the Father. While it might seem selfish, or that he’s just “loving himself,” it was actually needed because He was fully man. He needed rest so He could continue his rescue mission.
Wisdom is knowing the difference between self-indulgence and self-preservation for the greater good.
What do you think? Is “loving ourselves” good advice for Christians, or is it just a justification for indulging the self-life?