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   Studies in Contrasts - Volume 1 (13 of 13)

Volume 1

  1. Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?
  2. The Resurrection: A Matter of Reason or a Matter of Faith?
  3. Can We Learn from the Cults?
  4. Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?
  5. Did Christ Come to Live or to Die for Us?
  6. Is Man Like God or Unlike God?
  7. Should a Christian Be Self-Controlled or Spirit-Controlled?
  8. Isn't the Holy Spirit All I Need to Understand the Bible?
  9. Can We Come to God Just As We Are?
  10. Is It Ever Right to Judge Others?
  11. Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?
  12. Does God Hold Us Responsible for Other People's Sin?
  13. Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?


Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?

The president of a Christian college asked that all books advocating self-esteem be removed from the school library. He saw them as being in conflict with what the Bible teaches about our sinful human nature. On the other hand, some faculty members were convinced that low self-esteem was a serious problem afflicting and crippling far too many students in the school.

There are at least two sides to this subject. And a right perspective comes from a both/and rather than an either/or approach.

SELF-ESTEEM IS WRONG

  1. Self-esteem is wrong when it results in thinking more of ourselves than we ought to think (Rom. 12:3; 3 John 1:9).
  2. Self-esteem is wrong when we estimate our worth by measuring ourselves by ourselves, or by comparing ourselves among ourselves (Luke 18:9-14; 2 Cor. 10:12).
  3. Self-esteem is wrong when it leads us to conclude that we are deserving of God's kindness (Luke 18:13,14; James 4:6).
  4. Self-esteem is wrong when we fail to see how far short of God's goodness we fall and how sinful we are by nature (Rom 3:10-23; 7:14-25).
  5. Self-esteem is wrong when we do not give others more honor and consideration than ourselves (Phil. 2:3).
  6. Self-esteem is wrong when we think that we can live a successful or adequate life in our own strength (John 5:30; 2 Cor. 3:5).
  7. Self-esteem is wrong when we act as though we have not received our abilities and resources as gifts from God (1 Cor. 4:6,7).
  8. Self-esteem is wrong when we think of ourselves as being above hardship and suffering (Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12).


SELF-ESTEEM IS RIGHT

  1. Self-esteem is right when we estimate our worth and significance on the basis of what God thinks of us (1 Peter 1:18,19).
  2. Self-esteem is right when we estimate our worth on the basis of what God has done for us (Rom. 12:3-8; 2 Cor. 10:13).
  3. Self-esteem is right when we see ourselves as being able to do anything God wants us to do (Num. 13:30-33).
  4. Self-esteem is right when we believe that we can adapt to any circumstances God puts us in (Phil. 4:13).
  5. Self-esteem is right when we see ourselves as created, chosen, and rescued by God; members of the greatest, richest, and most privileged family in the universe; servants and representatives of the Lord Himself; people loved by God and destined for everlasting honor and glory (Rom. 8:12-39).

Resolution

Self-esteem is wrong and dangerous when associated with self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and self-righteousness. It is proper and valuable when based on a thankful, positive, confident recognition of what God thinks of us, what God has done for us, and what God can enable us to be and do.

Reflection

Low self-esteem is often based on an inadequate concept of what God made us to be. It leads to defensiveness, brittleness, and feelings of insecurity. These traits in turn produce either sullen aggressiveness or a despondent passivity. When God looks at Christians, He sees each of us as a being created in His image; a member of His family, redeemed from the guilt and bondage of sin; and as an heir with Christ destined for glory, honor, and perfection.

Ironically, low self-esteem can be traced back to pride. When we fail to see our own value, dignity, and potential from God's perspective and instead trust in our own low view of ourselves, we are, in principle, being proud. Why? Because we have elevated our opinion over God's.

The solution for low self-esteem, then, is as ironic as the source of the problem itself. Confidence in oneself must be discarded before it can be received from the Lord (James 4:6-10).

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