The past few decades have been so filled with talk of self-esteem that it has become a normal part of life to equate it with love. Though there have been some who have benefitted from being uplifted and made to see greater potential in themselves, many have instead used it to justify their self-centredness. Remember, the world encourages people to look within themselves to both define and find love, but the Bible does the opposite on both accounts.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Thus, the focus and substance of the believer’s heart is love for God—the source and object of our love are brought within from without!
Jesus told his detractors, “I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts” (John 5:41). Since he could read what was in the heart of a person (John 2:25), Jesus was qualified to either commend of condemn someone who claimed that they loved God. In this case he condemned his opponents as loving the praise of men and making no effort to obtain the praise of God (John 5:44).
As disciples of Christ, we set our hearts to love what God loves. And since His love is first and foremost universal—He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)—this immediately takes our focus off ourselves and onto a lost and dying world.
Sadly, even Christians try to satisfy their hearts by “devoting themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:4-5).