Growing up as a believer in Yeshua I noticed was common for religious teachers to present love for self as being the core cause for sinful behavior and contrasted it with love for God.
But I am not so sure this is correct. Yeshua was asked a question, “’Rabbi, which of the mitzvot in the Torah is the most important?’ He told him, ‘“You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’” This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, “You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.’” Matthew 22:36-40
Yeshua never said loving oneself less is the solution to Torah but loving others as ourselves which clearly implies you must love yourself in order to do that. This led me to think sin might not actually be the result of self-love. Torah commentary from the Jewish Scholar Paul regarding marriage and loving one’s partner as one’s self, “’Why, no one ever hated his own flesh! On the contrary, he feeds it well and takes care of it, just as the Messiah does the Messianic Community,’” Ephesians 5:29. So in light of this consider the statement in the Torah that says, “Adonai, God, gave the person this order: ‘You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.’” Genesis 2:16-17
Love led to care. If humans truly loved themselves they would seek their best interest and the destructive results of sin certainly aren’t it. And since suffering and death is the result of sin, sinning isn’t really a form of self-love. So the solution to avoiding sin isn’t insisting on valuing yourself less, but more than most humans currently do and we can see our value correctly through the light of Yeshua’s sacrifice. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 “Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and if you are his child, then you are also an heir through God.” Galatians 4:7 “I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21
When we truly believe that we are heirs of God and are considered more valuable by God than God’s own life we will conduct ourselves very differently. People tend to behave according to the value they place on themselves. We wouldn’t trifle in cheap degrading sinful behaviors that are not befitting a child of God if we actually valued ourselves as such. I believe years of discouraging self-love as selfish within the faith community may have actually hindered rather than helped people refrain from self-destructive habits in favor of Godliness. The Bible never encourages us to place a low value on ourselves or love ourselves less. Humility, which is a Biblical value and self-deprecation, is not interchangeable. We are to be humble because it is not anything about ourselves that makes us worthy of being children of God but we are to have self-love and love others as people of value because God made us.
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