Thursday, May 13, 2021

Does Scripture Command Us to Love & Esteem Ourselves?

By Maria Merola

© Copyright Double Portion Inheritance, January 2016

Back in the 1980’s (when I was brand new in my walk with Messiah), I was hearing a lot of “Christian Psychology” being taught from church pulpits. In fact, I owned quite a few Psychology books as I had been trying to find healing from my past hurts as a child.

I had a tumultuous childhood, with much domestic violence in the home, as well as abuse from the Catholic Nuns. On that first night (when I surrendered my life to Yahuwshuwa as Messiah in February 1981), I consciously forgave all those who had abused me. I was wonderfully set free that night as I felt and heard the demons leaving me.

As I began to embark on my new-found faith in Messiah, I attended various churches in search of the truth. What I discovered, (to my dismay), was that many of these pastors and leaders were parroting secular humanist thinkers from Ancient Greek philosophy, and Atheistic Psychologists such as “Sigmund Freud.” These pastors and Christian leaders were telling us that we needed to “love ourselves more,” however, my Bible told me something different.

The Apostle Sha’uwl (Paul) warned about the characteristics that we would see in society in the latter days, before the return of our Messiah:

2nd Timotiyos (Timothy) 3:2 For men shall be LOVERS OF THEIR OWN SELVES, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy...

Mattithyahuw (Matthew) 16:24 Then said Yahuwshuwa unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Psychology teaches that we need “more self-esteem,” but scripture tells us to esteem others more than ourselves:

Pilippiym (Philippians) 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each ESTEEM OTHER BETTER THAN THEMSELVES.

As I searched the scriptures, I discovered that the Christian Psychology books were teaching something diametrically opposed to what was being presented to me from the scriptures.

The final “straw that broke the camel’s back” came when my former husband David & I attended a “Psychotherapy Inner-Healing Seminar” with a group of people from our church in 1984. The seminar was conducted by a Christian Bible College Professor from Puerto Rico.

The leaders at his seminar had the attendees doing some very strange things, and I discerned “strange fire” in our midst (Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 3:4; 26:61).

One of the things that they had us doing was to get down onto the floor and curl up in the “fetal position” like we were in the womb. Our marriage partner was then supposed to pull out one limb at a time until our bodies were sprawled out onto the floor like a starfish. 

The “Christian Psychotherapist” told us that he had nick-named this technique “The Flower.” He told us that once we were opened up on the floor like a flower, that our soul would “bloom” and we would be “set free!”

However, I questioned this man and I asked him “Where did you get this technique from?” He replied “From Sigmund Freud.”

I retorted to him “But the Bible tells us that it is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that breaks the yoke---not some technique invented by an Atheist!”

I was appalled that this man was using techniques that were not founded in the truth of scripture. I reminded this man of what our Messiah taught in opposition to what he was telling us:

Luqas (Luke) 4:18 The Spirit of YHWH is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenheartedto preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised

Yeshayahuw (Isaiah) 10:27 “…. the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

Another technique that they had us engage in was something called “Role Playing.” The counselors were supposed to pretend to be somebody from your past who had abused you. They would then act out a scenario where they would pretend that you were engaging in a real life conversation from your abuser. The abuser would then ask you to forgive them and you were supposed to experience some type of “catharsis.” I remember feeling very strange during this process, and I felt guilty for “taking back” those things that I had already given to YaHuWaH on the night that I was first “born-again” in February 1981. 

Now, these counselors were making me “feel unforgiveness” all over again so that they could then claim that their techniques had healed me!

I remember feeling very confused, as I had already confessed my sins of unforgiveness, and bitterness that night when I gave my life to Yahuwshuwa in 1981. My husband at the time (David) and I left the seminar early as we felt a strange oppression there.

In the weeks following, I fasted and prayed asking YaHuWaH “Please show me what is wrong with me, Father...Why do I feel so uneasy and oppressed?”

I turned on the Television and was shocked to hear an interview taking place between Oprah Winfrey and members from the Church of Satan. These Satanists said to Oprah “We do not really believe in an entity named Satan..... Satanism is simply loving yourself.”

When I heard these words, I was in shock! I realized that the Christian Church was pushing the same agenda of “loving self” as the Satanists!

Then, the Heavenly Father directed me to look up the word “esteem” in the dictionary. The definition was very revealing: “To place a value upon; to appraise.”

That was when the Ruwach ha’Qodesh (Holy Spirit) spoke to me and said “Maria, what is the highest value that anyone can place upon you?”

Of course, I knew the answer----The blood of Messiah!

There was no monetary value high enough that could account for my worth and value in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. The purchase price would be something far above money.

1st Qorintiym (Corinthians) 6:20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify Elohiym in your body, and in your spirit, which are Elohiym’s.

Yeshayahuw (Isaiah) 52:3 For thus says YHWH, You have sold yourselves for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money.

I understood that my value and worth was FAR GREATER than any human being could place upon me---including myself!

If YaHuWaH already ESTEEMS & LOVES us so perfectly, how do we think we are going to supplement that with “LOVE OF SELF AND SELF ESTEEM?”

He finally showed me that we do not need to supplement his love for us with “self love,” nor do we need to “esteem ourselves,” because he already does it so much better than we do! 

In 1987, YaHuWaH showed his method for healing the brokenhearted through a parable that he taught about the “Good Samaritan.” 

You can read the article at this link: “Messiah Seen in the Parable of the Good Samaritan: Freedom from Depression.”

We simply need a revelation of his perfect love and esteem for us and we must receive it wholeheartedly. That is when the true freedom comes!

In all my years growing up as a teenager, (when I was reading Psychology books), I kept trying to “muster up” some kind of pseudo-self-love, and it never worked. I ended up puffing up my ego and using carnal and fleshy ways to make myself feel better. I bragged, I lied, I dressed up in a worldly, and flashy way to get attention. This was my carnal attempt at loving myself. 

Yet, I still struggled to see myself through the lens of my Heavenly Father. I still had demonic thoughts of suicide and despair. Once I began to meditate in the scriptures “day and night” like the Psalmist described, I experienced true peace and freedom:

Tehilliym (Psalm) 1:

Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the Towrah (law) of YHWH; and in his Towrah (law) does he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.

Yeshayahuw (Isaiah) 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.

After I received these revelations from YaHuWaH, I began to share with my former pastor and his wife, as well as others at my church. These people, however had a difficult time grasping the concepts that I was presenting to them. I realized that our society and culture had been permeated with “narcissism,” which causes us to believe that we have to love ourselves in order to be able to love others.

I would often hear this rationale being recited: “You cannot love others until you love yourself.” This was the lie that I heard coming out of people’s mouths over and over again. However when I examined the scriptures, I realized that just the opposite was true. In order to love others, we must first be able to “deny ourselves.” Scripture commands us to “die daily” to our old selfish nature (1st Corinthians 15:31). When we are truly “dead to self,” we stop focusing on ourselves, and dwelling on our own problems. We begin to place others first in our lives, and that is when we begin to experience true peace and freedom. This is why our Messiah taught us the two “greatest commandments:”

Mattithyahuw (Matthew) 22:

37 Yahuwshuwa said unto him, You shall love YHWH your Elohiym with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

The rationale of those who preach “love of self” stems from the above verse in Matthew 22:39. The proponents of this ideology suppose that our Messiah was “commanding us” to love ourselves. When we recognize that our Creator has built into every person the “instinct” of “self-preservation” and survival, he knows that we ALREADY love ourselves by virtue of those instincts!

However, some might say “I used to have self-destructive behavior, and I used to have self-hate…. I had to learn to love myself.”

My answer to those who have this reasoning is this: “What you thought was self-hate was actually love of self.”

When I was self-destructive and suicidal, Psychology would have me believe that I did not love myself enough. I realized much later in life as I read the scriptures, that my self-destructive behavior was an attempt to satisfy my longing to be absent from all pain. In reality, my destructive habits proved that I really loved myself too much, otherwise, I would not be seeking to escape the pain. 

The best way to explain it is to give you a real-life example.

My former deceased husband, David had been given up for adoption by his biological parents since he was an infant. His adoptive parents adopted him when he was just a few months old. When David was only 12 years old, his adoptive parents told him that he was adopted. By the time he turned 14 years old, his adoptive father had a heart attack and died. David’s parents were students of the Bible and they taught him to believe in the Savior to the best of their ability. Yet, he still struggled with his identity, and felt as if YaHuWaH had abandoned and rejected him. He listened to the lie that told him “Your biological parents rejected you, now your adoptive father died, so this means that you are rejected by the Creator from the womb.” He believed that the Heavenly Father had also rejected him.

David discovered that he had a gift of playing the piano, and people gave him accolades when he played. He began to find “identity” in his own musical talents and abilities rather than his “son-ship” with the Heavenly Father. As a teenager, he began experimenting with drugs, and joined Rock’n Roll bands. By the time I met and married David, I was the lead vocalist in at Top-40 band as we traveled the United States playing music in night clubs. After I surrendered my life to Yahuwshuwa, I no longer needed music, and the ambition to be a “Rock Star” to define my identity. I recognized that my identity was in my Messiah alone.

David, however refused to allow the Creator to define him. He rebelled, and continued to pursue a life of drugs and selfish ambition to become a “Rock Star.” David began reading the “Satanic Bible,” and the devil lied to him by telling him that he had been “missing out.” He was seduced in his mind by Satan to believe that life as a follower of Messiah left him empty. He told me one day “It is high time that I start loving myself.” That is when he left the marriage and became a Satanist and a transgender.

His “love of self” is what motivated him to pursue a destructive life-style. He lived for the desires of the flesh, because he was only interested in pleasing himself, rather than pleasing YaHuWaH. Ultimately, he destroyed his own life by smoking cigarettes and using drugs. He died in 2013 at the age of 59 of lung cancer. Nevertheless, thankfully, he did repent on his death-bed and recommitted his life to the Messiah. After 32 years of praying for David to repent, my prayers were finally answered! 


Love of self is, in reality a narcissistic obsession with “self” and it ultimately leads to destruction:

Luqas (Luke) 9:24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Luqas (Luke) 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

The instinct that is within all humans of self-preservation shows that we naturally seek to save our lives, and this is proof that we already love ourselves. Even those who attempt suicide are attempting to save themselves from a life of pain and misery. However, this ultimately leads to us losing our lives. It is self-love which causes us to seek to save ourselves. However, we are unable in our sinful, fallen state to save ourselves. We must look to a power higher than ourselves for love and salvation:

Ibriym (Hebrews) 12:2 Looking unto Yahuwshuwa the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of Elohiym.

Scripture tells us to keep our eyes on the Savior, rather than focusing on “self.” When we take our eyes off of ourselves, and we instead look to him, our attitude changes. 

We live in an “upside down and backwards” mentality in this present world. In attempting to make ourselves happy by “loving ourselves” we end up hating ourselves. We must do the opposite of what the “Spirit of the world” tells us.

Some of you reading this may be saying to yourselves right now, “Oh, but when I use the term ‘love myself’ I mean it in a totally different way.” You may be rationalizing to yourself “When I express the idea of loving myself, I mean ‘self-preservation.’”

I totally understand this rationale. However, in our society, the lines have become blurred between the satanic idea of “self-love” and the biblical concept of “accepting the love of our Heavenly Father.”

Back in 1977, I can remember the hit song by George Benson playing on the radio entitled “The Greatest Love of All.” Whitney Houston did a remake of the song and she made it a big hit.

Let’s examine the lyrics to this song:

“I believe the children are our future …Teach them well and let them lead the way….Show them all the beauty they possess inside…”

*Note: Scripture declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and we have been created “in the image of Yah” (Genesis 1:27).

On the other hand, King David wrote in Psalm 51:5 that we were “formed in iniquity and conceived in sin.” It is important that we teach our children that any inner beauty that they may possess is not “inherent to human nature,” because we are born into the world as sinners. Inward beauty comes as a result of our spiritual connection with YaHuWaH and not of ourselves. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

The song continues: “Give them a sense of pride to make it easier….”

*Note: Proverbs 16:18 tells us that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” 

Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of YHWH is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth, do I hate.” 

Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”

The self-sufficiency preached in this song is destitute of our total dependency on the Savior:

“Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be…Everybody’s searching for a hero…People need someone to look up to….I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs…A lonely place to be….And so I learned to depend on me…”

*Note: This message leads one to believe that we must become our own hero and that we must look up to ourselves rather than to our Heavenly Father. YaHuWaH is the one who promises to fulfill our needs (Matthew 3:31-33). We are commanded not to lean on our own understanding, but in all of our ways to acknowledge YaHuWaH” (Proverbs 3:5). 

The greatest love of all is touted as being the ability to love yourself, and it is implied that this love already lives within all of us. However,  scripture tells us that “love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5:22; 1st Corinthians 13:1-8).

The Lyrics to this song continued:

“I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows…If I fail, if I succeed…At least I’ll live as I believe…No matter what they take from me…They can’t take away my dignity…Because the greatest love of all Is happening to me…I found the greatest love of all Inside of me…The greatest love of all…Is easy to achieve…Learning to love yourselfIt is the greatest love of all.”

These lyrics suggest that to walk in anyone’s shadow is a sign of weakness, but we are commanded to take refuge in the shadow of the Almighty:

Tehilliym (Psalm) 91:1 He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Tehilliym (Psalm) 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O Elohiym, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusts in you: yea, in the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.

Tehilliym (Psalm) 63:7 Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.

Over the years, when I would hear this song on the radio, I would cringe inside as I realized that our society echoes the same sentiments as the Satanists. 

The greatest love of all is what Scripture says it is. The greatest love of all is that our Heavenly Father loved us first:

1st Yahuwchanon (John) 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon usthat we should be called the sons of Elohiym: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.

1st Yahuwchanon (John) 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved Elohiymbut that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Our ability to love is counted as worthless unless we recognize that it originated with him in the first place. In truth, we do not possess the ability to love the way that he does. Let us therefore, draw a clear distinction between the phraseology of “Love yourself,” and the biblical concept of “Accepting the Father’s love for you!”

In this way, we can let the world know that we are bankrupt as fallen human beings, and we do not possess the ability to love anybody on our own. Love is initiated first by our Father in Heaven, and he alone enables us to reciprocate back to him, and also to others. Therefore, “Love of Self” will always fall short. 

The author of love is YaHuWaH, and he is the only one capable of loving us perfectly and completely.

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