It has become popular even in Christian circles to propose that we need to have a healthy self-image. We are informed that many of the problems today are the direct result of low self-esteem. Our problem is that we do not love ourselves enough! I am familiar with the arguments for such a position. Twenty years ago I was moving in the direction of accepting that premise. I was doing so because of the books that I was reading not because of what I was reading in the Bible. It was something with which I was never completely comfortable. It was a teaching that seemed destined to uproot my whole theological foundation. It just seemed like all the intellectuals and "christian" authors and radio hosts were saying these kinds of things. How could all these smart people be wrong.
When my whole theological outlook was on the verge of being influenced by this human philosophy I came across a book by Jay Adams. He helped set everything aright in this area. The things he wrote about this and other issues, while different from so much of what I was hearing seemed much more solidly rooted in Scripture. I ended up reading about three of his books and several others that were written by people coming from a similar perspective. Once again I was convinced I was on firm footing if not popular footing.
Our problem is not that we love ourselves too little or have a low self-esteem. No! Our problem is that we love ourselves too much. This premise can be often and plainly substantiated from the pages of Holy Scripture. We really ought to be more concerned about self-control than self-image.
This morning in my Bible reading I was in 2 Timothy 3. The first verse and first phrase of the second verse puts things in perspective. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, . . . ." This should be a disturbing reality for proponents of self-love/healthy self-image. Men loving themselves is put in a very disparaging light. It is one, if not the first thing, that characterizes the perilous times of the last days.
In this passage loving one self is not presented as a virtue but a vice. Consider its neighbors in the passage: coveteous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.
What is interesting is how many of these expressions of wickedness can be traced right back to men being lovers of themselves.
What is true is that the last days are going to be perilous days and one of the main characteristics of these days it that men will be lovers of themselves. What is tragic is that Christianity is a major catalyst of this destructive teaching.
Self-love = Perilous times! Why would it not?