The person who grovels in depression and says he hates himself for having wasted his life would actually be glad that he had wasted his life if he really hated himself. In fact, he is unhappy about having wasted his life because he loves himself. The apparently remorseful criminal, who says he hates himself because of the crimes he has committed, should then be glad to see himself suffer in prison. Yet he hopes to escape that fate, which proves he loves himself in spite of his protestations of self-loathing.
Jesus took these notions another radical step when he challenged his followers to examine their way of living: “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” (Luke 6:34–35).
Our self-love keeps us from surrendering to the guidance of the will of God, and eliminates the sense of gratitude we should have toward God for all the blessings God lavishes upon us. By calling upon us to deny ourselves, bear our cross and hope for eternal life, even as we thank God for the blessings of this life, we are to abandon once for all the image of ourselves we have created through our blind self-love, in order to be conformed to the image of selfless and self-giving love that is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Love is an aspect of every law God requires us to obey, so that if we do not act in love, no work we do can conform to his standard.