John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
All of us love ourselves. We may put up some kind of spiritual facade and pretend we don’t, but loving ourselves is part of our very nature. So what was Jesus trying to say in this passage? He speaks of actually hating ourselves; what could He possibly mean? He was getting at something that is really the very essence of finding happiness in this life. Jesus was trying to show us that in finding our source of pleasure in the things in the created world we would never find happiness and would actually “lose our lives”. It is in changing the focus of our pursuit that brings us into pleasures beyond anything we can imagine. Joy is found in finding God. So losing our life, giving up the pursuit of happiness in the things of this world, is the key to finding our life. John Piper quotes and explains Augustine’s take on this passage, check this out.
“The reason some people think Jesus’s teaching on self denial contradicts the pursuit of our joy is that they fail to think deeply into the paradox of his words. Saint Augustine captured the paradox like this: ‘If you love your soul, there is danger of its being destroyed. Therefore you may not love it, since you do not want it to be destroyed. But in not wanting it to be destroyed you love it.’ So everything hangs on how we love our souls. If you love your soul in wanting it to have as many comforts in this world as possible, then self denial will be an insuperable obstacle. But if you love your soul in wanting it to be supremely and eternally happy in God, then self denial is not an impediment but a path. Therefore, Jesus’s teaching about self denial presses us onward in the pursuit of maximum joy in God.”
This is the most liberating revelation a Christian can have. It is not denying the pursuit of pleasure but changing the focus of our pursuit that brings me into joy evermore. So actually it is not bad to love yourself from God’s perspective. It is just how you love yourself that is important. So go ahead and splurge today. I’m not talking about a shopping spree or devouring cake and ice cream, I am talking about feasting on God Himself. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.