The answer is no. Absolutely not.
The issue is not how much you love yourself. The issue is how much you love yourself in comparison to God.
Jonathan Edwards discusses this in great detail in his excellent work Charity and Its Fruits. He writes:
I do not suppose it can be said of any, that their love of their own happiness, if we consider that love absolutely and not comparatively, can be in too high a degree….
The inordinateness of self-love, wherein a corrupt selfishness does exist, lies in two things: in its being too great comparatively, and in placing our happiness in that which is confined to self….
[Only] if we compare a man’s love of himself with his love for others, it may be said that he loves himself too much — that is, in proportion to much.
The issue, then, is not how much you love yourself. There is no limit to how much you can and should love yourself. The issue is how much you love yourself in relation to God and others. As long as you love God more, then you cannot love yourself too much.
To give an example (with somewhat crude measurements): let’s say person A loves himself at a level we’ll call 10 “points.” Person B loves himself at a level we’ll call 15 points. Which one is the idolater?
By this information alone, you can’t tell. You need to know each person’s degree of love for God. If person A, then, loves God at 8 “points,” and person B loves God at 20 “points,” then the idolater is person A — even though he is the person with less self love.
This is why Edwards can then go on to say “In some respects unbelievers do not love themselves enough — not so much as the godly do.”
This is Freeing
This truth is incredibly freeing. It also brings a much-needed corrective to some parts of the gospel-centered movement.
Some gospel-centered Christians talk about idolatry as loving something “too much.” Take work, for example. There is this notion that you can fall off one of too sides. On the one hand, you can not value your job enough, and fall into idleness. On the other side, there is this notion that you can love your job too much, and thus fall into idolatry.*
This perspective, stated in that way, becomes demotivating. It makes you have to be constantly introspective and cautious, continually on the lookout to check your enthusiasm. That is no way to live, and is in fact the definition of demotivating.
Or, can you imagine a man getting married, and saying to him on his wedding day “now, don’t love your wife too much!” We all recognize how inappropriate that would be. What a downer! The gospel does not lead us to be downers (quite the opposite — Romans 12:15). But if we always have to be on the lookout not to love anything “too much,” we will be constant downers.
Edwards’ point on self-love frees us from these hindrances to true love. It shows us that we cannot love ourselves too much, or our jobs, or even food or drink or having fun. You cannot love anything too much in an absolute sense, and therefore are free to pursue your enthusiasm for things undiminished. That is incredibly freeing and motivating.
The issue is always “do I love this more than God?” That’s the problem, and that’s what you need to be on the lookout for. But notice that when we understand the problem in this sense, the solution is not that we need to be worried about how much we love our jobs (or anything else). The solution is not to decrease our enthusiasm for work or food or anything else. Rather, the solution is to increase our love for God. The issue is always one of proportion; how much do I love this in relation to God? That’s the question to be asking.
This leads to a very different kind of life, and this is at the essence of the freedom of a Christian.
*Note: If it seems like I’m referring to a recently released book on the gospel and work here, I’m not. I’m not referring to it because I haven’t been able to read it all yet, and my assumption is that the authors make this same correction that I’m seeking to make here. I’m referring more to a mindset that tends to pop up more informally in blogs, articles, sermons, and so forth.