The Truth About Your God-Given Self-Esteem

happy_womanSo far, in this series on our God-given self-esteem, we have looked at David’s statement in Psalm 8:5 that we are “a little lower than the heavenly beings… and crowned with many crowns.” We have also established that we are to be humble. Humility is simply a recognition of the fact that we are sinful beings and totally dependent on God. Finally, we distinguished the difference between accurate humility and self-punishment. The first reflects truth and is useful. The second reflects a lie and is destructive.

In today’s blog, I want to examine more scriptures concerning our true identity, thus our proper self-esteem. I think that it’s important to take these scriptures quite literally, and let their words sink in. We often pay attention to the scriptures that reflect our preexisting beliefs, while skimming over those that challenge our prior views.

1. First, we see that we are amazing and wonderful creations of our Heavenly Father. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.   Psalm 139:13-14

You are one of His wonderful works, specifically and personally formed by Him; not an accident, not a mistake. You were meant to be here. You are as precious and wonderful as any other human being, including those you love.

2. Then we are told that we have a purpose. God, our creator, has a plan for us. Whether or not it is clear to you, you are meant to be here. There is a reason you are here.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

You have a future and a hope. God plans for your welfare. Watch expectantly!

3. Finally, we are told that our creator loves us so much….

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.   John 3:16

 And that we didn’t have to do anything to earn that love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

So, you are wonderfully made (just like those you love). God has a plan and purpose for your life (just like those you love). And God loves you enough to die for you, without you having to do anything to earn that love (just like those you love). It’s often easy for us to imagine God loving others, particularly those we know and love. However, we often have difficulty accepting His love for us, because we feel so unlovable. Yet, because it is the truth, we must accept that love.

Ponder on that love. Let it soak in like warm sunshine, as it permeates your body. Take the time to feel it. If you have difficulty, keep trying. You might try praying that God will help you to feel that love. He will.



Confusing Humility with Self-Punishment

What does The Bible say about our proper self-esteem? As Christians, how should we see ourselves? How should we think of ourselves? This is the third in a series of blogs on “Our God-Given Self-Esteem?
In the last blog, I discussed scriptures pointing out that we should be humble in our relationship to God. We have to realize that we are totally dependent on God and can do nothing by ourselves. We also must recognize that we are sinners and are helpless without His grace. This is just reality. We lose much when we forget our dependence on God.
Many times, however, Christians have taken this truth and carried it to the extreme, believing that they should be self-depreciating and self-punishing. Many people live their lives riddled with extreme guilt, and self-criticism or even self-abuse, thinking that they are being good Christians.
For most this has taken the form of self-critical thoughts and consuming guilt or sadness. Throughout history, others have gone even further. Some have practiced “mortification of the flesh,” believing that they should punish themselves because of their lowly, sinful nature. This self-punishment has taken the form of wearing sackcloth, extreme fasting, carrying heavy loads, wearing a tight garment or band with inward spikes that pierce the flesh (called a cilice) and flagellation (constantly whipping oneself with a whip).
While most of us would never consider such extreme forms of self-punishment, we often abuse ourselves in our minds. When we flood our minds with self-critical, self-demeaning or self-abusive thoughts, aren’t we just substituting the flagellation whip with words? In fact, I think the physical whip might be less painful than the words. Physical wounds heal faster than emotional wounds.
Notice your self-talk. Listen to the statements you say to yourself, particularly when you have made a mistake or fallen short of your expectations. Are you being overly harsh with yourself? Would you say the same words to anyone else? Are you abusing yourself with your words? Are you verbally flagellating yourself?
Would now be a good time to lay down the whip?

Question: Have you experienced religious messages that you should be self-depreciating or self-punishing? Do you believe such messages to be helpful or harmful to one living life abundantly and with joy?