17 Apr Who am I ?
Self-esteem is one’s opinion of oneself, an emotional evaluation of one’s self worth. A high self- esteem is having a good opinion of yourself and a low self-esteem is having a bad opinion of yourself. Having a good self-image is a new age phenomenon founded on humanistic psychology. It’s the mantra of current times, even in the Christian world.
Self-esteem depends on many thoughts that run in a person’s mind. A few important ones are:
Am I successful?
Do people respect me? Am I accepted?
How am I compared to others?
Self-esteem is self-centred, not God-centred. Christian teaching on self-esteem is not biblical.
How should a Christian view self-esteem? A good self-esteem as a Christian comes from having a right relationship with God. When we know who God is, we know who we are, what we are made for and understand the meaning of life. We understand that we belong to a huge family across the world, the family of Jesus Christ.
In our society, people often have feelings of worth based on appearance, status, career accomplishments, the neighbourhood we live in, the cars we drive, dressing styles etc. This kind of attitude can cause us to take excess pride in ourselves, make us indulge in self worship and lessen our love for God. The Bible teaches us that the love of self is the root of all sins. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, followed by a list of terrible sins (2 Tim 3:1,2). Esteeming the self is nothing but loving of the self.
The Bible never asks us to consider ourselves highly esteemed. Instead Jesus wants His followers to deny themselves, take up His cross and follow Him. We are not worthy or special, but we are forgiven, accepted and loved. God in His grace has made us His children.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4: 6) Our trust must be in God and not our earthly resources. Wealth comes and goes. God is our friend and anchor all the time.
The youth of today pay a fortune to make themselves look good and flaunt accessories to highlight status. They think that will make them more successful and accepted. Maybe we can impress others with our looks to an extent. Jesse proudly paraded his seven sons before Samuel in Bethlehem. Samuel looked at their fine features and appearance and thought that one of them were God’s choice for a king. Instead God spoke to him. . . . God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:7) This incident must be an eye-opener.
The forgotten shepherd boy became king, not the handsome older brothers. God knows our hearts.
There are many who suffer low self- esteem. A low self-esteem could come from lack of good looks, lack of education, tragic happenings or abuse. This could lead to sin, abuse, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity and so on. A word of encouragement or kindness can go a long way in helping such people. God’s forgiveness and love can be shared with them so broken hearts become healed in Jesus Christ.
God paid a huge price to redeem us. His words comfort us, corrects us, encourages us and shows us the way. As God’s children, we can walk in confidence and trust, which leads to a healthy outlook towards life.
A low self-esteem can appear to be the opposite of pride, but it too can be a form of pride. Some tend to associate low self- esteem with humility and end up being proud of their humility. Some people want others to help them out, comfort them and feel sorry for them. This can be a self- focussed and selfish attitude. As Christians, we are called to be selfless people.
God’s love and mercy is not dependant on our performance or accomplishments. What a wonderful God He is! He loves us unconditionally, just the way we are. We are important to the Almighty God.
A few promises from the Bible to rejoice in
- God made each of us in His own image.
- God watches over us night and day and knows us inside out.
- God has a plan for our lives. Each of us were born for a purpose.
- God’s word is the way, the truth and the light.
- God’s grace is sufficient to handle all life’s problems.
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- A heavenly reward awaits each Christian who walks in faith.
Do you struggle with your feelings of self-worth? Child of God, take your eyes off yourself and look up to God. The Cross is bigger than our doubts, tears and failures. God calls the broken hearted, the miserable and the riff- raff of this world to come to Him. He sets them free from bondage and crowns them as His princes and princesses. Straighten your crown and walk free.
Do you have problems with pride? Read God’s word and ask God for help and forgiveness. Let us remember that we are mere mortals. Riches do not last forever. Money and looks can perish in no time.
There are three views to every person on earth. What God thinks of us, what others think of us and what we think of ourselves. Of these, the first one is the most important. Let’s turn our hearts back to God and live for Him. Let’s strive to lead a God-centred life, not a self-centred one. Let us learn to love others more than we love ourselves. Let us keep away from subtle yet deceptive new teachings like self-esteem. Let us not be lovers of the self.
Christians find their identity not in an improved or enhanced self-image, but in Jesus Christ.
Jeslyne Isaac has a Masters in pharmacy and serves on the Board of Healthcare Christian fellowship India.