What Does the Bible Say About Loving Yourself?
The Bible’s answer
The Bible indicates that it is proper, even necessary, to love yourself to a reasonable degree. Such love includes caring for yourself, respecting yourself, and having a sense of self-worth. (Matthew 10:31) Rather than glorifying selfishness, the Bible puts self-love in its rightful place.
Whom should we love first?
Love for God should come first in our hearts. The Bible teaches that the greatest commandment is: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart.”—Mark 12:28-30; Deuteronomy 6:5.
The second greatest commandment is: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Mark 12:31; Leviticus 19:18.
Although the Bible does not include a specific command to love yourself, the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” indicates that a reasonable degree of self-love and self-respect is normal and beneficial.
Whom did Jesus love first?
Jesus showed how to balance love for God, love for neighbor, and love for self, and he instructed his disciples to follow his example.—John 13:34, 35.
He loved Jehovah God first and devoted himself to accomplishing His work. “For the world to know that I love the Father,” he said, “I am doing just as the Father has commanded me to do.”—John 14:31.
Jesus loved his neighbor, showing this by caring for the needs of others even to the point of giving his own life.—Matthew 20:28.
He showed a reasonable love for himself by taking time to rest, eat, and enjoy association with his followers and potential disciples.—Mark 6:31, 32; Luke 5:29; John 2:1, 2; 12:2.
Will loving others ahead of yourself reduce your happiness or self-respect?
No, because we are created in the image of God, whose primary quality is unselfish love. (Genesis 1:27; 1 John 4:8) This means that we are designed to show love for others. Self-love has its place, yet we are happiest when we love God above all and focus on doing good things for others. As the Bible says, “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Today a number of people claim that happiness comes from putting yourself first. For them, “love thyself” has replaced “love thy neighbor.” However, modern experience confirms that improved health and happiness come to those who follow the Bible’s wise advice: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Corinthians 10:24.