I just read a summary of John C. Maxwell’s book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. It said that “self-love” is a prerequisite to personal growth. I’m fairly familiar with John Maxwell’s philosophies, and I doubted that he would promote self-love. But, I thought I’d better make sure.

Does John Maxwell Promote Self-Love?

I searched for “love” in the e-book. There’s one reference to self-love, in a quoted conversation. All of the other references are about loving other people or stuff such as golf, work, etc. (John Maxwell does love golf, y’all.)

Maxwell does not promote self-love in this book. Instead, he talks about the importance of seeing value in yourself. Apparently, the person who wrote the book summary considers those to be the same thing.

That’s become typical. Self-love is all the rage, even in Christian circles. However, it’s important to distinguish self-love from self-worth and self-respect. These are all distinct concepts.

Is Self-Love Biblical?

This matters because the Bible puts self-love in different category from the rest. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says this:

“In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people.”

Self-love is listed among other sins. God never tells us to love ourselves. He tells us to love Him and our fellow humans.

But, didn’t Jesus say, “Love your neighbor as yourself”? Yes. Look carefully at the sentence. Jesus didn’t say that we should love ourselves; He said that we do love ourselves. He’s telling us to direct that love at our neighbor (other people).

If God wanted us to love ourselves, we would see that throughout the Bible. Instead, the Bible tells us to love God and others. When it comes to self, here’s what God tells us, over and over: Practice self-control. Self-control, not self-love, is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

Love for God and others. Self-control. That’s God’s message to us, time and time again.