September 1 – Self-love

September 1 – Self-love

1 Corinthians 10:24

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)

Paul identified love as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). In the sublime love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, he extolled love as the greatest quality a believer can possess, far superior to knowledge and gifts. The love described here and in other New Testament passages is agape love, a self-giving, Christlike love that we are humanly incapable of. Only through the constant filling of the Holy Spirit can we love others the way Christ intended.

Read Matthew 20:20-28 then consider the results of putting self-love first.

  • We seek privilege.
  • We want to exalt ourselves over others.
  • We seek power.
  • We fall short of Christ’s example.

These are results of self-love. When we put ourselves first, the last thing we want to do is serve others. Christlike love, on the other hand, is selfless, putting the needs of others first. The potential fruit of this root sin—putting ourselves first—is virtually limitless, manifesting itself in selfish behavior and conflict that look very much like the world instead of followers of Christ. When these behaviors appear in the church, they can damage Jesus’ reputation in the world. That’s exactly what was happening in the Corinthian church when Paul wrote to address the issues of sexual immorality, conflict, and selfishness within the body. Paul reminded the spiritually immature congregation, “No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person” (1 Corinthians 10:24).

The book of James reminds us that love is something we do, not just a quality we possess by virtue of being in Christ. James wrote, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only” (1:22), and he even defined religion this way: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (1:27). Many of us do a better job of keeping ourselves unstained by the world than becoming involved in meeting the needs of the world. Jesus taught that when the curtain is drawn aside at the final judgment, the most severe judgment will be meted out to those who failed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the oppressed (see Matt. 25:31-46). To ignore human problems that we could help is moral negligence. Christians are called on to be sensitive, compassionate, generous people who willingly and lovingly meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others.

How does self-love manifest itself in your life? Consider the following ways: a judgmental attitude, preoccupation with my own agenda, thereby giving inadequate attention to people in my life; impatience with unwanted delays or with irresponsible behavior, stinginess in giving to God’s work, prejudice against those who disagree with me or are different from me, perhaps a reluctance to spend time in ministry. What can you choose to address now?

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