SELF-LOVE OR SELF-DENIAL
The modern psychology movement began in the fifties. By the eighties, the “Christian Psychology” movement had taken root and has now grown to the point of exerting influence in the thinking of many would be Bible believers. One of the impressions made by “Christian Psychology” is that the Bible is the inspired word of God; however, it is not adequate to solve all the problems of modern living. The idea is advanced that we need the information provided by the Bible as well as the input of the “experts” in psychology. There are at least two problems in accepting this premise. First of all, psychology does not consider the influence of the Holy Spirit on the soul. People who are born of the Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17) have a new nature or conscience that is sensitive to the moral code of God’s word. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that people who are born again as a direct result of the irresistible work of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:1), are influenced by the standards of God’s word, even if they’ve never heard it! (See Rom. 2:14-15). How can psychology solve “soul problems” if it fails to consider this major component of the soul? Secondly, the Bible declares itself to be adequate or sufficient to solve all problems of living. The Bible does not teach you how to do everything. It will not teach you how to do brain surgery or repair your automobile. However, it does teach you how to conduct yourself in everything you do. According to Peter’s Second Epistle, the word of God gives us, “all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3). In other words, the Bible has all the information we need in order to live a godly life in this world.
One of the teachings that is often advocated by psychology is that you must learn to love yourself. In the public school system, this is often labeled “self-esteem”. We are told we need to build our children’s self-esteem if they are to be successful in life. Some in the “Christian Psychology” movement have suggested that this concept is taught in the Bible. They quote the words of Jesus in the familiar passage, “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). They say you must first learn to love yourself before you can properly love others. However, notice that in the context of the passage quoted, Jesus gave two commandments, “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…” and “… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37,39). He then said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:40). If we were commanded to “love ourselves”, He would have said, “On these three commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” We are not commanded to love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbour. We are commanded to love God and love our neighbour in the same manner in which we already love ourselves.
Man’s basic problem is not a lack of self-esteem but a fatal overdose of it (See 2 Tim. 3:1-2). We don’t have to work at loving ourselves. We’re born with a natural love for self. This is proven by the scriptures, as well as, personal experience. For example, when Paul was teaching husbands how to love their wives, he said, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies…” He then says, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it…” (Eph. 5:28-29). He’s essentially saying, “If you begin having the same concern for pleasing your wife as you already have for pleasing yourself, you will be loving her in the same way Christ loved the Church.” Christ’s love for the church was proven in that he “…gave himself for it…” (Eph. 5:25). If we are to have meaningful relationships with others, we must learn to practice self-denial. As a father of six children, I experience this truth every day. Our family cannot survive if we practice self-esteem. We must practice Christ-esteem followed by esteeming others above ourselves.
We invite you to worship with us at Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church. We meet each Sunday at 10:30 AM. For more information, call (260) 417-7839 or e-mail BuddyAbernathy@juno.com
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