What does the Bible say about self-hate / self-hatred?
Many people struggle with self-hate in various forms, and it can be very crippling. Some people hate themselves because they dislike a certain aspect of their personality or of their life circumstances. People may think they should be more successful, more talented, better looking, have a different personality, etc. Others hate themselves because of something they have done or because they feel that they will never be good enough. They live in shame, thinking themselves to be unlovable or unforgivable. The world's answer to this problem is very appealing and almost logical—the answer to self-hatred is self-love. While some of the practices of "self-love" are healthy, the Bible has a completely different idea of self that differs from the world's idea of self, and therefore offers a different answer to the problem of self-hate than simply self-love.
Once we understand what the Bible says about who we are, we have a very different idea of ourselves. The Bible does not speak directly towards self-hatred because it has a very different view of the self than the world does. According to the Bible, the self is naturally corrupted from the beginning—while we were created in perfection, we chose to live contrary to our design and now our self has been damaged (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10–12; 5:12; Ephesians 2:1–3). Therefore, we can never be perfect or live up to God's standards (Romans 3:23). We all go against God—we sin. As a result, we are separated from God. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). But graciously God has not left us in our sin to be condemned for all eternity (Ephesians 2:4–10). He loved us and valued each of us enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16–18). If we acknowledge our sinful nature and our need for Jesus Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He forgives us of our sins. He also gives us His own Spirit, holy and perfect, to live inside of us and transform us (Romans 10:9–13; Ephesians 1:13–14). Those who have put their faith in Jesus have a new nature that is continually being renewed (2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:10). This new nature is one of power and love, compassion and humility, bringing healing through forgiveness (Colossians 3:12–14; 2 Timothy 1:7).
If you have not received Jesus as your Savior, that is the first step in solving the problem of self-hate. It is only when we have forgiveness from God and a personal relationship with Him that we can truly let go of self-hatred. Our minds and our hearts are transformed by God's love (Romans 12:1–2) and we begin to have a proper perspective on ourselves and on the world. If you are unsure of your salvation, please see our article: "How can I have a personal relationship with God?"
The person who has received Christ no longer needs to hate himself for his sin because Christ has cleansed him of his sins (Isaiah 1:18; Romans 8:1–39). We should follow the example of Paul. Before Paul was saved he lauded himself on his credentials as a zealous Pharisee; he even murdered people for following Christ in his zeal. But instead of trusting his own credentials or wallowing in self-pity, he does this, "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13–14). For the Christian who is struggling with forgiving himself for his sin, he needs to know that holding onto self-hatred is a form of pride that says that Christ's sacrifice isn't enough to cover his sins.
The Christian can also take comfort in the fact that God took time creating each detail of who he is—his personality, his body, his hair color, his quirks, his talents and abilities. God chose each detail of who you are for a purpose and simply because He delights in you (Ephesians 2:10, Zephaniah 3:17).
Instead of self-hate versus self-love, we need to strive for humility. As several have said, humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Humility is an accurate estimation of self that does not have the self as the number one priority or preoccupation. Romans 12:3 says, "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." Understanding that we have worth because Christ loves us, we can then take our eyes off ourselves and instead consider how we can serve, encourage, and stir up love and good works (Hebrews 10:19–25). As Christians it is our job to live sacrificially for others in worship to God rather than conform to how the world tells us to live and think (Romans 12:1–2). Following Christ means denying our sinful nature and living for God's approval rather than other people's (Luke 9:23; Galatians 1:10). If we do this we will find it is much easier to please God than it is to measure up to our own standards because His love is unconditional and pervades every area of our lives, even those that we are ashamed of (Romans 8:31–39). It is then that we can experience the abundant life and fullness of joy that God intends for us (John 10:10; John 15:10–11; Psalm 16:11).
If you struggle with self-hate, your healing begins in the arms of a Savior who loves you and values you so much that He died for you. Jesus came to this earth to bring healing and comfort, and He wants to give that to you if you would let Him. Once you know Who it is who loves you, recite His truth over you. Fill your mind with the Word of God (the Bible) instead of letting your thoughts be overcome with the negativity and lies that plague you from the people around you, the enemy, and yourself. When you know and believe the truth about who you are, you won't need to practice self-love because the God of the universe loves you better than you could ever love yourself.
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