"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:24-25).
There is a philosophy afoot in today's self-absorbed culture that we must work to love ourselves more. Nowhere is this instruction given in the Bible. Paul said, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). In our text Jesus instructed His disciples concerning the paradox that self-denial is imperative to ultimately gaining eternal life for one's self.
Why is it not important to pursue after self-love? The answer is given in Ephesians 5:29. "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church." You see, self love is innate. It is built into human nature. Even those who commit suicide do it because of the selfish notion that it will end their grief, fear, and painful despondency. Sadly, they don't realize that even their own bodies rightly belong to God (I Corinthians 6:20).
But while there is no need to pursue self-love, there are some clear Scriptural commands regarding one's self. We are to exercise self-discipline (I Corinthians 9:27) and be self-confident through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Moreover, we are to be self-sacrificing in our pursuit of ministry: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Ephesians 5:21).
When we submit ourselves to Christ, we are able to accomplish much: "And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God" (II Corinthians 3:4-5). DW