Are you guilty of self-love and self-seeking?
In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments. We started by examining the first commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We saw the duties of the first commandment and then began to examine the sins forbidden by the commandment, such as atheism, ignoring God, forgetting God and hating God. But what other sins are forbidden?
Self-love and self-seeking are also forbidden in the first commandment. If God is your God, then you must love him above everything. Including yourself.
Now there is a sense in which we are to love ourselves. The apostle encourages such behaviour in his instructions to husbands to love their wives: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–for we are members of his body’ (Ephesians 5:25-30).
But Paul also warns Timothy of people who will only be interested in loving themselves: ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them’ (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Rather than being selfless, such people are selfish.
Similarly, Paul makes a terrible indictment upon the human race about self-seeking: ‘For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 2:21). And in his letter the church in Corinth he says: ‘Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others’ (1 Corinthians 10:24).
Notice what you’re meant to be seeking. The good of others. And according to Paul, Christ in particular!
This means that if you worship God, you must be prepared to lose everything in your love for God. Even your life, which you love, oh so much.
Yet we must admit that we have been lovers of self far more often than we have been lovers of God. Thus we’re all law breakers and deserve God’s wrath
But thankfully in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for all the times you have loved yourself rather than God. His blood is more than sufficient to cleanse you of all those occasions where you have sought your own interests rather than the interests of God. But you must trust in him to have his forgiveness.
Have you trusted in Christ so you are forgiven for loving yourself rather than God? Joel Radford