Recently, I have heard several people say this and read it a good bit in some on-line articles. I don’t really watch television much but what tiny bit I do, I have heard this or something very similar on several occasions. It is a little saying that lots of people say but really, it’s an underlying life philosophy. Here it is:
I need to learn to love myself.
Or some variation of this. Learn to love yourself or something along those lines.
I have some problems with this idea. If you are a Christian, you should have some issues with it as well. Let’s talk, first, about our society for a sec. We live in a self-obsessed society. I’m almost 50 years old and I cannot remember a time in my life that this has become so obvious. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is a recent phenomenon. Since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden, giving in to an inflated sense of their own power and dreams of grandeur (“ye shall be as gods”), this has been part of the human condition. People loving them some themselves is obvious and rampant throughout Holy Scripture and world history.
At the root of this notion of self-love is really pure selfishness. I think we can all see from even a cursory browsing of most news outlets or social media..heck, even a walk through a local mall, that self-love is rampant these days.
I want to take a quick second and tell you that there is a difference between thinking you’re a piece of crap and self-loathing and humility. Of course, we are to be humble. But humility is not thinking that you are worthless. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who defined humility as not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.
St. Paul is helpful for us as we consider humility. Philippians 2:3-8 tells us,
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”(emphasis mine)
St. Paul tells us that we are to have a lowliness of mind and that we are to follow the example of our Lord Jesus who humbled Himself and became obedient. St. Paul ties obedience and humility to each other. We’re going to come back to that later. St. Paul further reminds us in Romans 12:3 that a man is to “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly..” We are to examine our hearts and souls and actions and compare it to the standard.
Icontinually hear people say, “I’m a good person.” My response to that is always, “Good according to whom or by what standard?”
And what standard are we to judge ourselves by? Did Christ have anything to say about being good? As a matter of fact, He did. In Luke 18:19, we read this,
“And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.” This was in response to a man asking Jesus a question and calling Him, “good teacher.” So, when we say that we’re a good person, perhaps we need to check our standard. Only One is good, our Lord tells us…and it ain’t you or me.
I think before we dare to call ourselves good, we need to take a really hard and honest look at ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I am a very great sinner. The thoughts that come from my heart and mind are many times so vile that I am shocked. I shouldn’t be but I sometimes am. As Jesus reminds us, we are defiled by what comes from within us (Matthew 15:11, Mark 7:15). Why would we love ourselves when what comes from inside us is so vile and filthy and wretched? The prophet Isaiah tells us,
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” (Is. 64:6-8)
Love ourselves? Our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our iniquities have taken us away. We are merely the clay; He is the potter. We are entirely in His hands.
Rather than “loving ourselves,” we should rather take a sober assessment of ourselves and the condition of our soul and heart. St. Maximos the Confessor wrote quite a bit about self-love. He said it was rooted in selfishness and pride and was the “mother of all passions.” By the way, passions are a bad thing.
So, how do we have a proper view of ourselves and not fall into “the mother of all passions?” I want to go back to something really quick for that answer. Remember what St. Paul talks about in Philippians and the mind of Christ. What did he tie together?
Humility and obedience.
I think obedience is one of the major keys to a proper opinion of oneself and humility. After all, our Lord Jesus Himself was obedient, as St. Paul reminds us, even to the point of death. Christ Himself said He came not to do His own will but the will of the Father (John 4:34, 5:30 and 6:38). And Christ gave us commands that we are to follow. After all, our life is not our own just to be lived for our enjoyment (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Rather, as the Psalmist reminds us in Ps. 143:10, we are to cry, “Teach me to do Thy will.”
Christ said hard things that don’t sound like we’re supposed to “love ourselves.” He said things like, “Take up your cross and follow Me,” and “He who loves his father or mother, or son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” and “He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom.”
None of that sounds like, “love yourself.” That sounds like, “Give yourself away. Recognize who you really are and how dark your heart is without me.”
As Father Seraphim Rose (+1982) said,
“Carry your cross without complaint. Don’t think you are anything special. Don’t justify your sins and weaknesses, but see yourself as you really are.”
Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for yourself and each other.
Not over yet
On June 24, 2022, where were you? Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned?
I must be honest with you, I never thought I would see that happen in my lifetime. I mean, I hoped it would be overturned but I didn’t actually see that coming. Roe was decided the year I was born, 1973. For almost 50 years now, we’ve been gleefully murdering babies in this country (and our tax dollars help pay for it).
I want to be very clear. I am very pro-life. I find it hideous, monstrous, and completely unthinkable to murder a child. But I also disagree with the death penalty and euthanasia and all other forms of the taking of life. Lest you want to argue with me about self-defense, I’m putting that in a separate category right now. Not only am I pro-life but I am also a firm proponent in “states rights.” I think the states should be able to decide for themselves (via the voters of that state) how they want to live their lives. I do not think the federal government has any business telling any of us what we can and cannot do with our own bodies, nor do they have the authority to tell individual states how they should and should not be doing business.
I have to also add this: If you claim to be a Christian and are “pro-choice,” may I humbly suggest that you re-evaluate your so-called faith? There is no room for murder in Christianity. Full stop. I’ve heard all the arguments. Murder is murder and has been expressly forbidden in Holy Scripture. And make no mistake; abortion is murder. It is not a “choice.” It is a human being that is being murdered at their most vulnerable.
If you ever questioned in your mind whether people who support abortion are Christians, just consider the question you are asking yourself. Look at what these bloodthirsty barbarians have done over the last fifty years. Since 1973, conservative estimates are that over 63 million abortions have been performed in the United States. If we have any brains, we know this number is higher because many of them go unreported. And that is just in the United States. This does not include the rest of the world.
May God have mercy on us.
Look at the reaction of the death mongers since the Supreme Court recently, and rightly, overturned Roe v. Wade. They are freaking out. These murderous barbarians hold sacrosanct the right for women to have their babies chopped into pieces, sucked out, dismembered and God only knows what else. They are so desperate to preserve their murder that our president (who claims to be a devout Catholic, which is a laughable claim at best) wants to have our legislators codify Roe so that access to abortion becomes a “right” under federal law.
Let’s be clear. The Constitution in no way affirms the right of someone to murder a child. You do not have that constitutional right in this country. You never have, despite the political wranglings of the Supreme Court back in the 70s, had the right to murder anyone.
But this ain’t over yet.
We have more praying to do.
We have more soul searching to do.
We have more repenting to do.
We have more loving to do as we love and wrap our arms around those women who have suffered because of the killing industry.
There is more to do. We cannot stop now.
The so-called culture wars have been a thing for a very long time. In the history of God’s people, the culture wars have been going on since the beginning. Our great enemy began this long ago when he lied to our first parents and manipulated the truth of what God had said to suit his own agenda. The culture of our enemy has always been lying, cheating, deception, manipulation, and death. He knew what would come of Adam and Eve’s sin. Later, God’s people would be given explicit guidelines for how they were to live their lives in faithfulness to God and in contrast to the world. As time went on, God’s people turned from their fidelity to God and embraced the culture of the people around them. All manner of evil ensued, and they were eventually punished by God.
Even after God graciously brought them out from exile and restored them (as a foreshadowing of what was to come in Christ), they still turned away again and embraced the world. They turned from the faith and began to look for success according to the world. That was their dream of a messiah. They wanted for their messiah to overthrow the world order and give them the kingdom they believed they had been promised, abundance and prominence and the death of their ”enemies.” They failed to see that their greatest enemy was the sin and death that plagued their souls and bodies.
Then the Lord Jesus was born, incarnate of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. He was no more well received by a people who had become lost and self-absorbed than we receive Him today. We are no different really. We have become like the culture of death, and the culture of ease and comfort that surrounds us. The enemy is still lying to us. He says, “Do you really have to live a holy life? Did God really say you have to do all these things? You don’t have to be the crazy Christian. It’s fine, just relax. It’s not like you’re killing people.”
Oh, but we are. And we are killing our own souls (and bodies) in the process. We have much work to do, brothers and sisters. The war rages on. We dare not give in now. While we rightly celebrate the overturning of the death manifesto, let us turn the gaze of our hearts inward. Have we embraced the culture of our day? Is there any real difference in our lives and the lives of those who pant so hard after the death of our children that they won’t stop at abortion!? No, the enemy has infected our education system, our entertainment industry, everything.
The war rages on.
The struggle begins within us.
We dare not shirk our duty.
Do not give in now.
It’s not over yet.