By Pamela Rose Williams
Self-esteem is a concept that has become increasingly popular in today’s world. It is something that many parents, including Christian parents, believe they should build in their children. It is something that schools, doctors, therapists and even advertisers talk about often. But did you know that “self-esteem” is not found in the Bible? In fact, the Bible has much to say about the opposite of “self” esteem. Let’s take a look.
Don’t misunderstand, I am not claiming that the Bible talks against the importance of each and every person. In fact, as the psalmist wrote: “… I am fearfully and wonderfully made: …” (Psalms 139:14). God made each and every one of His created human beings as breathing, walking, thinking masterpieces. But when you look closely to the context of these words, the glory and honor belong to the Lord, not to self. That verse continues “… marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
Truly, God made each of us with a purpose in mind. When we are careful to listen to what God has for us we will do that thing to His glory and we will receive great joy as well.
Let’s get back to that “self-esteem” thing. When we are esteeming ourselves isn’t that just another way of relabeling “self-exaltation” or “boasting”? In my study I found these words from God:
Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
Proverbs 27:1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Do you remember what happened to the beautiful angel that exalted himself above God? It is recorded here:
Isaiah 14:13-14,22 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord.
Jesus taught on self-exaltation when he spoke to the multitude and to His disciples; He spoke of servant-hood:
Matthew 23:11-12 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Hard as I try, I cannot find this concept of “self-esteem” anywhere in the Bible. But I do find much about esteeming and edifying others there. Here are some of my favorite verses.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Romans 14:19-20 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
1 Corinthians 10:33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Philippians 2:1-11 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Christian are you promoting this thing that is in the world called “self-esteem”? If you are I encourage you to get into the Word of God and study it and when you do you will find that esteeming others greater than ourselves is what produces fruit of the Spirit. It is evidence that we truly love our brothers and sisters. Doing for others will build joy in your heart, which is only produced from the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). This is a peace and joy that lasts and is all part of God’s plan for His Church.
We have the choice of self-esteem or to esteem others, but is self-esteem edifying? Paul sums it up like this:
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Galatians 5:13-14).
Thing to Think About And Do:
- Think of one thing that you can do today to brighten someone else’s day and DO IT today.
- Spend time looking up the verses above in your Bible and meditate upon them. Read them in context and jot notes about what you have learned.
- Share this post with someone that you think will learn from it.