Love Versus Self-Esteem

I was wondering about this recent perspective that has developed (since the sixties) in the world and has infiltrated the body of Christ as well.

In today’s life we are told that people do horrible things because of low self-esteem -if we can only build someone’s self-esteem, they will be positive and will make the right choices. However, God in His word, says the exact opposite. He says – all of us are sinners (Romans 3: 23), that we love ourselves (Ephesians 5:29) and it doesn’t matter how much we try and change our actions, heart, or our behavior, we can’t. Sometimes we can pretend to ourselves we have changed – but it is not permanent (Romans 7:18-20).

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

I can understand the world using band aids, but Christ promises no band aid, but a total new creation (2 Cor 5:17).  Therefore every person in Christ’s body is free, and are being changed from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18) through grace. No amount of positive thinking and praise can change who we are. There is a lot of brokenness, pain and discouragement in this life, but the solution is not building up our self esteem – we need something stronger!

How does that ‘new creation’ come about?  John 3:16  says God, loving the world so much, He laid down His life. He made a sacrifice, so that we could be set free from ourselves. This is how the new creation came about.

The Bible is clear that we are sinful and part of that sin is ‘self-love’. There is a big difference between building up somebody’s self-esteem and loving them.  God loved us before we loved Him – in our sin! Love honors the truth –  not delighting in evil but rejoicing with the truth”(1 Cor 13:9).

The whole Gospel message is about the Truth – a Person (John 14:6). The simple truth is that we are sinners and need Jesus. God does not start by telling us how great we are,  He tells us how messed up we are. And we’re relieved to hear that – if we are honest with ourselves. If then we confess that great Truth (who is a Person!), we are set free indeed (John 8:36).

Love is sacrificial and never a play on words. By being positive we cannot change anyone’s self-esteem. By following Jesus we can be truthful, and by laying down our self-life  for others, we can show them they are worthy.

To build a relationship with ANYONE is an effort, even with God. Loving our spouses, our children and the people around us take time and effort. It takes honest communication and grace. It takes a great deal of listening. It demands doing things you do not want to do. It takes sacrifices.

God’s children’s desire is for Him. He promises us that He lives with the lowly (Isaiah 57:15) and resists the proud (James 4:6).  The way I understand this, is that the higher our self-esteem the smaller the chances that God will be with us. Maybe we make no room for him.  If we want God to be with us we have to resist building our self-esteem.

By building up people’s self-esteem we have created a world of people who are totally absorbed with themselves. It is all about ME, MY social pages, MY career. How can my spouse fulfill MY needs? How do I look? MY selfies etc. In the older days people felt bad to act selfishly, today we compliment them.

We worked at a children’s home. Those kids came in broken and abused. You know what happens when you tell them you are worthy and you deserve so much more in life?  -They develop arrogance and an entitlement! You know what happens when you love them even when they steal your car? Ah… you are angry with them, and you tell them, you do not tiptoe around the fact that they are messed up and broken! You are honest, but you still hug them and dish a special extra for them that night, and they wonder! They know they do not deserve it, but it amazes them! And step by step, sacrifice by sacrifice, car by car, they realize something. We are doing on a much smaller scale exactly what Jesus did – telling the truth and acting in love (Proverbs 3:3).

Truth and love.

The solution God gave, was to deny one’s self and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). If we seek Him – He will change us into His image and we will be placed on the Rock! Who needs a good self-esteem when we have Jesus! And self-esteem can be moved, what if you had a bad hair day? Jesus is solid, the living stone, unmovable, yet gracious and alive (1 Peter 2:4).

Whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12