Season: 3 Episode: 036
There are two things women want to hear in our culture today: the first is that we need to love ourselves and the second is that we need self care above all. This is a message that is not founded on biblical truth and is infiltrating women’s ministries today. Shanda shares why this is heresy on today’s podcast.
“We will never love another as we love ourselves unless we love God first.”
“None of the commandments have anything to do with loving ourselves.”
“The easiest example to show how we are to love others is to equate it to our love for ourselves.”
“The world knows we belong to God by the love we have for others; not ourselves.”
“The self-love message of culture is wrong … not because you are not loved, but because God’s love is so powerful that once you accept Him and love Him, you carry that love to a dying world and show them the only One who can satisfy a thirsty soul.”
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Hey guys! We are diving in deep with something a little controversial today, and that’s self love and self care. Now, this message is one of the favorites coming out of women’s ministries today and every time I scroll through my social media accounts it never fails. I see post after post appealing to a woman’s need for self care and self love.
I’m going to get into all of that, but before I do I want to let you know that if you are listening to this and you are all about self care, I will speak to that and what God says about caring for yourself and others.
I know it is a real concern and very personal to some of us, but my point today is that the message is getting lost in the fluff.
Today’s episode is probably going to be a bit controversial because once we hear something so much, anything contrary to it will sound foreign to us. Culture has infiltrated our thinking so much, that even the word of God sounds off. That’s a scary place to be in.
When we get into self love and self care, we have to be very careful to rightly divide truth because there are things the Bible does and does not tell us. I also did a podcast episode on love and mentioned a few things about self love in that episode, so if you want to know how God defines love, check out that episode.
In today’s episode, I want to tackle these things:
- God never tells us to love ourselves.
- Self care is not what you think it is. God has His own definition of self-care.
- Where is this message of self-love coming from and why is it dangerous?
God never tells us to love ourselves
We’re getting into the nitty gritty with the first point today and that is that God never tells us to love ourselves. We have to be careful here because to say that we are to love ourselves first is heresy. It is completely false doctrine. It is anti gospel.
I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking about the verse where Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And you want to say, “But Shanda, doesn’t Jesus say right there we are to love ourselves? We can’t love our neighbor as ourselves if we don’t even love ourselves, right?”
Ok, remember when I said we are to rightly divide the word of truth? Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 that he is to rightly divide, or rightly handle the word of truth.
That means to cut in a straight line .. not to distort it.
Have you ever cut something like a piece of paper or a cloth, and it ended up with jagged edges, frayed edges or rips? It comes out distorted when not handled properly.
We can do the same thing with the word of God if we are not careful. How do we avoid such distortion? Go back to the beginning of verse 15 and Paul gives the answer …. Study.
It is dangerous to pull a verse out of context and think we understand it without truly studying it.
What do other translations say? What is the word in the original language? How about the context in which it was said?
Remember … we are to make sure our interpretation of the Bible comes from an exegetical context. If we only have a thought and pull a verse to reinforce that thought without studying within scriptural context, we are using a method that supports opinion instead of biblical context. That’s called eisegesis and I’ve talked about that before and I’ll continue to mention it because repetition is how we learn.
So, let’s get back to the verse: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This verse is not calling you to love yourself so you can love you neighbor. Not even a little bit.
This verse is mentioned several places in the Bible.
The first place we see it is in Leviticus 19:18 where the Hebrew people are commanded to love their neighbor as themselves.
Jesus repeats this in the gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke.
But let’s take this verse from the passage of scripture in Luke 10:25-37. A lawyer came to Jesus and tested Him with a question about what he could do to inherit eternal life. The question is already a terrible one since there is nothing we can do to inherit eternal life.
But Jesus asked him of his knowledge of the law. And the man replied, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus told him he was right.
But the man wanted clarification about the neighbor part. And this is what I mean by reading the verse in context. We cannot isolate this verse and interpret it to mean that we are to love ourselves before we can love others. I’m going to get into more depth on that, but let’s finish this out first.
Jesus answered the man by telling him the story of the good Samaritan. The Jews and Samaritans were not friendly toward each other during this time because the Samaritans were considered half-breeds. They intermarried with foreigners and the Jews despised them for it.
Jesus’ point in this story is that our neighbor is everyone and we are to love those we deem as not easy to love. We are to put them before ourselves. The good Samaritan in this story was the only one who stopped for the Jewish man that was beaten on the roadside and he did these things for him:
1) He had compassion for him
2) He used his own supplies to care for his injuries
3) He used his own money to have him cared for until he was better
Loving others is a sacrifice. It costs us to love our neighbor.
The order of the commandments never mentions anything about us loving ourselves.
First, there is the greatest commandment: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.
Do you see the order? Because if we only talk about loving ourselves before we love our neighbor we are inserting another commandment into this context.
The one thing I never hear in the self love/self care message is the greatest commandment … to love God with all your heart. It’s “me” centered every time.
Where is the self-love/self-care message that says to love God first? Because I haven’t heard it.
Because here’s the truth …
If we do not love God first, we will never love anyone else in the way He commands us to. It is impossible to love anyone like we love ourselves if we do not love Him first.
What comes naturally? To see our own interests first. In 1 Cor 13, Paul tells us what love is and what love is not, and one of the things love is not is self seeking. Verse 5 of that chapter says, “[Love] does not seek its own [interests].”
It’s not natural to love others like we love ourselves, and we will not do it without the Spirit of God living in us. I mean, have you seen the posts on social media coming from the fingertips of Christians?
It is in the fallen nature to love selfishly, which isn’t love at all. We will love with strings attached because it will be all about what the other person can do for me. That’s what self love is.
Do you know what God expects us to do when it comes to ourselves and others?
I’m going to tell you and I’m going to admit that this is not going to sound like your average self love message because it’s not. Are you ready?
He said to deny yourself (Matt 16:24)
To put others above yourself (Phil 2:3)
He said don’t only look out for your interests but the interests of others (Phil 2:4)
He said to be kind and prefer one another (Rom 12:10)
You can also look at the 10 commandments in the OT. There are two tables to the commandments. It’s a vertical table and a horizontal table.
The first 4 commandments have to do with our love of God: vertical. 5-10 have to do with our love towards our fellow man: horizontal.
None of the commandments have anything to do with loving ourselves.
On the contrary, we do a great job of loving ourselves.
Ephesians 5:29 says, “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.”
I know what you’re thinking: “Shanda, there are some people who hate themselves. They have low self esteem, they’re insecure. Not everyone loves themselves.”
Again, understand the context of this verse. This is showing an example of how a husband is supposed to love his wife. He is commanded to love her as his own body and to love her as Christ loved the church.
The easiest way to describe how to love others is to equate it to the love we have for ourselves. Are we good at taking care of our basic needs? Do we feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, find shade when it’s hot, etc?
Self-esteem and self confidence have nothing to do with loving ourselves.
Those are spiritual needs and a whole other topic for another episode, but even those who are depressed, and “hate themselves” know how to take care of themselves.
Who here is going to let someone have the last slice of pizza if you’re hungry? Who is going to take care of the well being of someone else at your own expense?
Jesus said this, “Treat others as you would have them treat you.” We live in a world where men are lovers of themselves. How dare you offend me. How dare you talk to me like that.
Jesus constantly told us how to treat others and used our love for ourselves as our example. Why? Because to love ourselves and take care of ourselves comes naturally. To love others and think of them as better than ourselves does not.
We can only do this hard thing if we have our priorities in order … and that is to love God above all.
Self care is not what you think
When women talk about self care, what they’re essentially saying is we need to serve ourselves so we can serve others better.
That’s the worldly message and it’s the wrong message.
I remember the days when my two older boys were babies. I was tired ALL THE TIME. It was exhausting.
When I got a break and some time to myself, I enjoyed it. It usually consisted of a nap, getting my nails done or going to lunch with friends. That was my time and it really did refuel and recharge me.
Is taking care of yourself wrong? Absolutely not! There are verses that talk about honoring our bodies because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But again, truly caring for our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being is so much more than self-help books and mani/pedis.
God values rest.
Look at commandment #4 … keep the Sabbath day holy. We are not supposed to work on this day. God wants us to rest in it.
If you go back to Genesis 1, God rested on the 7th day. Not because He needed to, but because He was leading by example to establish rest for His creation.
In January of this year, I spoke at a women’s conference and shared about the topic of self-care. The problem with the mainstream message of self care is that women are looking from within to find rest and restoration instead of looking to the Lord.
What did Jesus say in His word? “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28-30)
So, what are we looking for? Is it really self-care?
If you Google self-care tips right now, you are going to find some whacky things. I mean, it will tell you to read, have some quiet time, meditate, exercise, and a whole bunch of other things.
It’s a very self-centered message. But what you’re really looking for is rest for the soul. And that message is rooted in Christ alone.
What is rest in a biblical sense?
I have been through dark times in my life where I have rested my head on my pillow, but my heart was racing. My body was resting, but my soul wasn’t.
A Biblical form of rest is no doubt spiritual.
Today, we are:
*Busier now than ever
*Bombarded with more information now than ever
*We live in a culture where trying to keep up with Pinterest meals, fashion, and home decor is exhausting.
*We compare ourselves with other women, the best dressed of Hollywood and beat ourselves up with mom guilt.
*Anxiety in women is one of the most common mental health issues in the US.
So, I’m not here to argue that self-care is not important.
So many women talk about how important it is to take care of yourself and I get it. But that’s just a fancy way of saying they need rest.
Experts will tell you all about how to get self-care, and If there’s one thing I agree with experts on in regards to self-care it’s that it can be done wrong.
I think most of us neglect the truly effective way to practice self care and here’s why …
It seems as though those who teach self-care and those who practice self-care have forgotten one very important detail about the human being that God created …
We have a body, a mind, and a soul.
And this is why I believe self-care is so confusing and misrepresented today.
Self-care for the body looks different than self-care for the soul.
*Food for the body cannot feed the soul.
*Rest for the body does not give rest to the soul.
*We fight spiritual battles and they cannot be fought by using physical weapons.
*The soul hungers and thirsts, but cannot be quenched with physical nourishment.
For more insight into this, let’s take a look at the Samaritan woman in John 4.
She was a woman who came to Jacob’s well day after day. She came around noon each day, and some scholars suspect it was to avoid her townspeople because of her reputation.
This implies she had self-esteem and self confidence issues. She was tired. Each day looked the same. She was spinning her wheels and getting nowhere.
But she came to draw water day in and day out to satisfy a physical need.
However, satisfaction of the physical need wasn’t enough.
If it were, water from the well would have sufficed.
Jesus made a distinction here between physical needs and spiritual needs. Jesus explained that the living water quenches spiritual thirst. And once He explained that living water satisfies thirsty souls she said (verse 15), “Give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
How many times do we need a “rest day” or “me time” or a “break” because no matter what self help book we read, we’re still tired, weary or worn out? Self-care the world’s way only makes you more thirsty.
Do you know what the worst thing to drink when you’re thirsty is? Soda or any sugary drink because it leaves you more thirsty. Self care the world’s way is like soda … it may satisfy for a moment, but it doesn’t quench the thirst of the soul.
Now again, I’m not talking about taking a day with the girls or going and getting your nails done. But if we’re saying we can’t take care of others or love others until we focus on ourselves first, we’re not meeting our need God’s way.
The other example we have in scripture is Mary and Martha in Luke 10.
Martha was cleaning, overwhelmed, trying to serve others and she blew up. Right there in the middle of the kitchen while tossing the salad, she lost her cool.
She let Jesus know all about it. She was so angry that Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet and not helping her that she said, “Lord, don’t you care that I’m doing this all alone? Tell my sister to help me.”
And Jesus said, “Martha, Martha .. you are stressin’ and you ain’t experiencin’ the blessin’.” That’s the Shanda’s standard version.
Mary chose the better part … sitting at Jesus feet which typifies rest and relationship.
If anyone tells you about self-care and doesn’t mention the rest you can only find in Christ, then it’s bad advice. It’s actually not self-care at all, it’s just a suggestion for what to do when you get some “me time” and you can find that anywhere.
Because any message other than resting in Christ and meeting the needs of your soul is only going to leave you thirsty and lacking.
3) Where is the message of self-care coming from?
We are living in a time where everyone is self centered and “me focused”. We are selfie obsessed, social media driven where we can paint a picture of ourselves altered by filters and reality.
We’re living in a time where people are easily offended and we now have created “cancel culture” because if I don’t agree with you and your opinions don’t align to mine, I want nothing to do with you.
And now the message of “you’re enough” or “love yourself first” is part of the American gospel. And that’s not true. Jesus saved us because we aren’t enough. Jesus came because we didn’t measure up. He died for us because our own sacrifices could not take away the guilt and shame of sin.
The gospel of Christ is never me-centered but Christ centered.
You may wonder what the big deal with the self-care terminology is; especially if women do need to take care of themselves.
Here’s the danger: 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”
Why are there times of difficulty? I’m going to read the rest of it and I want you to listen to the self absorbed descriptions of what makes these times difficult.
He goes on to say, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
In the last days people will love themselves and gravitate towards messages that focus on self-love and self-care.
Remember this, people do not recognize God by how much we love ourselves. People recognize God by how much we love others. That is the proof that God abides in us and that is the love that overcomes the world (John 13:35).
I want to close this out today by reminding you that God loves YOU. God loves you and has deemed you valuable. So valuable in fact, that He sent His son to pay the most valuable price for your soul so that you can live in the confidence that He is your creator and you are made in His image.
The self-love message of culture is wrong … not because you are not loved, but because God’s love is so powerful that once you accept Him and love Him, you carry that love to a dying world and show them the only One who can satisfy a thirsty soul.
That is truly loving your neighbor as yourself.
I encourage you to go to the show notes at shandafulbright.com and look up all of these verses yourself. A wise steward of God’s word will search truth for themselves.
And if you have any questions about this or any other topic, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer.
Until then, I’ll catch you on the next one.