One of the leading causes of my natural tendency to self-love is fear. I fear that if I do not love myself there would be no one left to love me quite so well as I do. An even more significant cause of self-love is a lack of persuasion that there is someone out there who is worthy to be loved more than I. Arrogance lies beneath both of these causes: I love myself supremely because I am the most worthy person I know to be loved and also because I think I can do a better job at it than anyone else. Such arrogance makes me dangerous, yet it is deeply ingrained in my sinful flesh.
Thankfully, the gospel frees me from the shackles of self-love by addressing both of these causes. First, the gospel assures me that the love of God is superior to any love that I could ever give myself. “Greater love has no one than this,” says Jesus while speaking of His love. And the deeper I go into the gospel, the more I experience the truth of His claim and thereby know how His love for me surpasses even my own. His astonishing love for me renders self-absorption moot and frees me up to move on to causes and interests far greater than myself.
Second, the gospel reveals to me the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God, and in so doing, it lures my heart away from the love of self and leaves me enthralled by Him instead. The more I behold God’s glory in the gospel, the more lovely He appears to me. And the more lovely He appears, the more self fades into the background like a former love interest who can no longer compete for my affections.
(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians, pp. 30-31)