As many of you know, the brand of biblical counseling that OAM does
is quite different from secular psychological counseling
(which we don't really believe is valid for Christians or actually
anyone, see our article Biblical Counseling ). The counseling
we do is distinctively biblical because we believe the problems
people have in their lives are caused because they are unaware
of the true character of God, or because they are unwilling to
believe what they know from the Bible to be true about Him.
When we encounter a problem, in our own lives
or in the lives of those we work with, we go directly to the Bible
and see what it has to say about that problem. 2
Tim. 3:16-17 gives us the reason why this is the purpose
for the Bible: "All Scripture is
God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly
equipped for every good work." When we line up our
beliefs about God with the written word of God, this is the first
step towards healing and towards learning the "secret"
Paul knew in Philippians 4:12-13, "I know what it is to be in
need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the
secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well
fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do
everything through Him who gives me strength."
On the topic of self-esteem, the first place
to go is the Bible. We must note in our study of the Bible that
there are absolutely no instances of God encouraging someone to
have a better "self-esteem". However, there are many,
many places where God tells people not to think more highly of
themselves (Romans 12:3; Luke 16:15;
Deut. 17:14-20; 1 Kings 19:3-18; Proverbs 16:19; 25:6,7; Luke
14:7-11), and in Phil. 2:3-4 we are told to "consider others as
better than yourselves".
Unfortunately for modern psychology, the Bible
does not in any way support the idea that mankind needs to think
MORE of him/herself. The theme of the Bible tells us that the
problem mankind struggles with is not thinking too lowly of ourselves,
but thinking too highly, i.e., pride. I know that those who are
reading this who are struggling with "low self-esteem"
will not find this easy to hear, but I can tell you that it is
what the Bible indicates.
There are two basic things you must know about
how we were created. First, we were
created in the image of God, out of God's wonderful creativity.
This means that we have a certain dignity, given to us not because
of who we are, but because God was our Creator. A painting by
Picasso can be made of the same things as a painting by Chalkbrd,
but hey, which one do you think is worth more? (And if you've
ever seen my stick figures, you'll understand this. Ask my students!
LOL) Our dignity is rooted in God's character, His creativity
and His love. In and of ourselves, however, we have no value...we
are merely the dust of the ground. But because He loves us, we
since we are all part of the human race, we bear inside us a sin
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans
3:23) None of us are worthy of anything short of the wages
of sin, death. (Romans 6:23) We don't "deserve" anything.
As always in keeping with the Bible, these two
things must be kept in balance for us to live the lives God has
created for us. We must always be mindful of our dignity and
our depravity, the two extremes of our character. To go too far
in either direction takes us out of the path God has set before
us and into a path of pride and selfishness.
is termed today as "low self-esteem" is in fact a form
of the sin of pride. Please hear me all the
way out before you turn me off. Let me explain why I believe
this is the biblical view.
As I said before, there are two aspects of each
human that we must always keep in balance, dignity and depravity.
When we lean to the dignity side, we become arrogant, and it becomes
obvious that we are dealing with a sin of pride. But leaning
towards the depravity side also is a matter of pride.
Those who have "low self-esteem" hate
themselves for many reasons, all of which are focused on themselves.
And in order to "prove" how very much they hate themselves,
the respond in various manners, depending on the person: mentally,
verbally, or physically "abusing" themselves (this often
comes in the form of cutting or starving themselves).
When we verbally "abuse" ourselves
within the hearing of others, this becomes similar to those who
used to wear sackcloth and ashes and walk miles on their knees
to make penance for their sins. The reason it is done publicly
is so others can tell them things such as, "Oh, you're not
really so bad. You are really a good person inside." Unfortunately,
words like these can never satisfy a person with "low self-esteem"
because s/he knows inside that these words are not true. And
indeed, God Himself tells us, "No
one is good--except God alone." (Mark 10:18) and Jeremiah 17:9
says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond
cure. Who can understand it?"
But God knows our hearts and He has already provided
the cure. Jesus Christ, God Himself, came to earth in the form
of a man and paid the price for our sins on the cross. At that
time, each soul had a price sticker put on it that declared it
the most valuable thing in the universe because it was bought
by the pain and suffering and blood of God.
When we deny that we have value, we are in essence
being too proud to accept the value God has placed on us. Instead
of merely being grateful that God took someone such as us who
had so many flaws and weaknesses and yet He loves us so much He
died for us, we basically tell Him that His love doesn't mean
anything or that He is lying when He tells us He loves us.
Those who have talked to me have heard the 3
questions I ask. 1. Do you really
believe God is all-powerful and could change your situation if
He chooses to? 2. Do you really believe God is all-knowing
and knows everything you are going through? and 3. Do you really believe that God loves you
perfectly and will always turn things that happen to you into
your ultimate best?
Those who have "low self-esteem" will
often say yes to the first two, but hesitate on the third one.
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so"
was very easy to sing as a child and even as an adult, but to
put our confidence in this can only be done by someone who is
humble enough to accept God's love.
this is the key. When our worth is dependent
on what those around us think of us or on what we think of ourselves,
it is a bogus worth. The only worth we have is not a worth that
comes because we ARE worthy, but because God is love. And when
we deny His love, we are setting ourselves up as little gods,
determining that our worth should come from a different source
than God says it should. It is the sin of pride.
So, the answer to "low self-esteem"
is to understand that we do not DESERVE anything because we, in
and of ourselves, are worthless. Yet, because the God of the
Universe has chosen to love us and redeem us with His very life,
we have gained a value that is beyond compare. Knowing we are
worthless humbles us before God and allows us to appreciate His
grace and love, which are given to us even though we don't deserve
them. Knowing we are loved by God and redeemed by His blood,
we see the value of each and every soul on this earth.
speaking, if you are caught up in the "low self-esteem"
trap, it will leave you open for bad relationships of all kinds.
You will be constantly looking for friends and romantic relationships
where the person will focus in on you and keep telling you how
"wonderful" you are (that certainly sounds like pride,
doesn't it?), instead of surrounding yourself with true friends
whose goal is to move you closer to God, even if that requires
them to tell you a truth you might not want to hear. Yet the
compliments the false friends say will never truly satisfy your
soul because it knows the truth.
To climb out of this trap, you must retrain (1
Tim. 4:7) yourself to see the truth. God says He loves
us: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
(Jeremiah 31:3; other examples are Ex. 34:6; 1 Chronicles 16:34; 2 Chronicles 5:13; Ps. 6:4; 13:5;
John 3:16; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:11)
After reading such passages, you have to ask
yourself: Is God a liar? No! This means that when you FEEL
like you are worthless, then your feelings are contradicting what
God said and either your feelings are liars or God is. Which
do you think is more reliable?
When you are feeling worthless, the first thing
to do is confess before God your sin of not believing God's words.
Confession means that we agree with God that our behavior is sin.
Too many times we want to excuse ourselves or use another term
that isnt as bad as sin, but we must be honest
before God and ourselves and call sin what it is. Then, since
He has already given us forgiveness on the cross, we then need
to accept this forgiveness and thank Him for His generosity and
love to us. Then ask Him to help you to choose to believe His
statement of love for you and the sacrifice He made for you instead
of believing your feelings, which are false.
Are you alone in this struggle? No, not at all.
Many today are looking for the same answers you are. Even the
Apostle Paul struggled with sin in his life (see Romans
7:14-25) and he concluded, What a wretched man I
am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to
God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Lets join Paul and take the focus off
of ourselves and put it where it belongs, on the One who bought
us at such a great price, Jesus our Lord and Savior.