(If you’ve stumbled across this post, let me explain where you are. You have landed smack in the middle of one of my favorite series ever. We started some time ago by learning that God expects us to love ourselves. Now, we’re going through the definition of love in I Corinthians 13:4-7 to help us understand how we can love ourselves in a healthy way so can love others better. Go back to that first post to read the series from the beginning and to find an index of all the posts available. Enjoy today’s post as well.)
Rejoice in Truth, Not Wrong-doing
According to I Corinthians 13:6, love does not rejoice in wrong-doing, but in truth. But how does that apply to loving ourselves in a healthy way? I think Romans 1:18 and 2:8 help us understand.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).
“…but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:8).
These passages demonstrate two different standards by which we can live. We can either live by the truth or we can live in unrighteousness (the same word as is translated “wrong-doing” in I Corinthians 13:6). It seems odd to see truth contrasted with wrong-doing. We would expect truth to be contrasted with lies or wrong-doing contrasted with right-doing. The point is that following truth leads to doing what is right and wrong-doing comes from following lies.
Satan is a liar. He doesn’t get us to do wrong by telling us the truth about the wrong. He doesn’t get us to commit adultery by telling us how awful the consequences will be–destroyed marriages, destroyed families, lost jobs, loss of trust, guilt, shame. No. He tells us how fun it will be. He tries to convince us it will be fulfilling and meaningful. We’ll get from the adulterous relationship what we are not getting from the marriage relationship. Isn’t that exactly how Satan started the mess the world was in? He didn’t tell Eve about the pain in child-bearing. He didn’t tell her about the marital conflicts that would come from it. He didn’t tell her about getting kicked out of the garden. He told her about being like God. Perhaps there was a kernel of truth in the statement. Certainly, she would learn something that God knew and in that sense would be more like God. But that wasn’t what she was looking for.
Loving Ourselves not Seeking Self
So, how does all this fit in with loving ourselves in a healthy way? Romans 2:8 helps out. Following Satan’s lies that lead to wrong-doing all stem from loving ourselves in an unhealthy way. It stems from being self-seeking. But when we love ourselves in a healthy way, we ignore the lies of Satan. We think soberly about our lives and live them based on the truth God has revealed for us. We do not allow ourselves to get caught up in the fantasies of Satan’s promises. We recognize them for the lies they are and command Satan to get behind us.
When we rejoice in vengeance, slander, lying, stealing, hurting, outbursts of wrath, immorality, gossip, and other sinful behaviors, it is because we have succumbed to the lies of Satan. Instead of loving ourselves in a healthy way, we have decided to put ourselves above others. We have decided that others are here to be the sources of our pleasure. We can abuse and misuse them however we want as long as we get a moment’s pleasure out of it. This is certainly not loving others, but it is not actually love for ourselves either. Why not? Because in the end, we are the ones hurt by this kind of behavior. We must be careful; if we bite and devour one another, we will be consumed by one another. We are only hurting ourselves when we take these cheap and easy routes offered us by Satan. He parades them around as loving self, but instead they are destroying self and others.
Love yourself. Don’t succumb to Satan’s lies. Don’t fall prey to his deceit. Don’t dwell in his fantasies. The cheap and easy route of his errors will always come back to bite you. Instead, love yourself and rejoice in the truth God has revealed. Follow His way. It works.
(Remember to come back for our next installment about loving ourselves in a healthy way. We’ll see that those who love themselves in a godly way bear and endure all things.)