rebelling against low expectations

The Self-Centered Nature of Self-Love


Self-love is an ideology that has taken our culture by storm. Messages of “you are enough,”all you need is yourself,” and “to love others you have to love yourself first,” are plastered all over social media platforms.

This idea sounds wonderful on the surface and appeals to the insecurities many of us face. But there are damaging worldview messages packed into these seemingly innocent phrases. The key problem is the idea of putting “yourself first.”

Let’s dive into a few biblical contrasts:

#1. The Purpose of Rest

Taking time to recharge and not overextending yourself physically or emotionally is important to maintaining a healthy life. Solitude and doing activities that rejuvenate us can provide much-needed energy to help us grow in our relationship with God and others. Even Jesus, who was the greatest Servant of all, took time to rest.

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mark 6:30-31)

God calls us to rest and be filled in His presence. When we are broken and struggling to believe we are loved, God desires us to come to Him with our doubts and insecurities. He is ready to wrap us up in His never-ending love which declares “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11).

#2. Put Others First

It can become very easy to fall into the attitude that your wants and desires are the most important. We let our Christianity take second place behind our wants and needs. Contrary to popular belief, putting your own needs first and doing whatever makes you feel good is not the purpose of life. The Bible offers a completely countercultural message.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing for selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each one of you look out not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)

Paul emphasizes the fact that we are to put “others” before ourselves. Jesus Himself is our example. He submitted to the will of His Father even though it led to suffering and pain. He made the ultimate sacrifice of love for His people. Jesus was a humble servant who gave to others sacrificially even though He was the King of the universe.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7, ESV)

As Christians, we are called to be Christ-like in all of our actions. That requires giving our time, energy, and love to serve those around us. Serving others not only pleases God, but it can also bring us great joy. When I go out of my way to brighten someone else’s day, I often find my own problems fade into proper perspective. Serving others is the best way I have learned to use my talents to bring glory to God.

#3. God’s Love is Better

Often, we try to fill the gaps in our emotional health by finding ways we can just “love ourselves more.” We try to feed ourselves positive thoughts, but this only leads us back to the cycle of needing validation from others to feel loved. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies all show how we are all broken and in need of Christ’s work of love and redemption in our lives.

The truth is that we are not enough. If we were, we would not need to work so hard convincing ourselves that we are. Self-love will never satisfy our souls and can be truly exhausting. You can say “I just need to love myself more,” but what happens when you fail to measure up time and time again? God’s love is the only love that can fill the empty space in our souls.

As a teenager, I have discovered that teens often feel depressed because they strive to be perfect and meet unreachable standards. The message “you are enough” has become a battle cry that gives us relief briefly, but then we sink back into depression when we can’t deal with our anxiety or keep failing to break free from sin and mental struggles. We feel like we’re worthless because we can’t break free from these struggles. The message that “we are enough” is far from enough.

The truth is we will never be able to fix ourselves, because we are weak and broken people. But being “enough” in our own strength is not what God requires of us. Rather, we’re called to depend on God who is the only one who will ever be enough because we were created to find fulfillment in intimacy with Him. That is where true freedom is found.

God’s love for us in Christ Jesus says “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). His love is greater than the paltry love we could ever offer ourselves. We can counteract self-love culture by defining our lives by God’s Word, not by how we feel or what others say, speaking His truth to our hearts, and remembering that God is the only one that can satisfy all the longings of our hearts.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)

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About the author

Kara Krulick

is a 17-year-old writer and poet, a lover of nature, a beautiful disaster, and most importantly a Child of the Heavenly Father. Her dream is to become an author and learn how to live for what is worthy instead of what is worldly. You can find her somewhere between Narnia and Neverland dreaming up stories that she hopes will impact people for the Kingdom of God.
You can join her email list by following this link:


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  • Oh wow, Kara, this is such a good article! So many people need to hear this, myself included. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Thank you for the advice! I have been trying to determine how I can do yoga as a Christian. One of the incorrect messages I keep hearing from online yogis is to “love yourself.” As you said, the only love we will find satisfaction in is from God. That is worth meditating on way more than my inadequacy.

  • Mmm, I love this – holding the tension between “yes, Christians are called to put others before themselves” and “no, rest isn’t evil” can be so hard, but it’s so good, too. Thanks for sharing, Kara!

  • Good message, Kara! I’m glad to hear that there are others out there in the world that agree on this topic.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →