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Self-Esteem or God-Esteem

From childhood to adulthood the image we have of ourselves will have an impact on every area of our life. It
is universally believed and taught that in order to live a happy well-rounded life, positive self-esteem is a necessity.
Our parents or guardians are usually the first to have an impact on molding our self-esteem for better or worse. In
today’s classrooms building self-esteem is more important than reading, writing and arithmetic. After all, logic a
person with low self-esteem won’t have much confidence or motivation to excel in academics and beyond. Even
within some Christian churches there is a big focus on positive thinking and self esteem. However, in regards to our
relationship with God, self-esteem is a deception that will lead to a false sense of security in our own abilities and a
sense of worthlessness when our abilities falter and fade. God designed mankind with a need for purpose and worth
and it’s only through him that those needs will be fully met.
One of the approaches some school systems take in regards to self-esteem is to do away with the letter grading
system. The theory is that if a student is not reminded they deserve an “F”, their self-esteem will be preserved. This
may seem clever in regards to the classroom but there is a dangerous parallel in the spiritual realm.
We are often deceived by our own pride and lusts into exchanging Gods laws and grading system for a
watered down version in an attempt to evade guilt and maintain our self-esteem. The tremendous effort made to
outlaw the Ten Commandments on and in public property speaks volumes. It’s difficult to feel good about ourselves
as we continue to live in sin while being reminded of failure and inadequacies. The Truth is, we are sinners deserving
God’s judgment (Romans 3:23, 1John 1:8&10). The good news is despite our sinfulness we are priceless to God.
God esteems us beyond measure and the revelation of our worth to God is the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ the
savior of the world.
Self-esteem is in direct opposition to God-esteem and the Gospel of Grace, the reason being is self –esteem is
based on self. We must always remember that our worth or value does not come from self, the praise of men, the way
we look, anything we can accomplish or have accomplished. Our worth and value comes directly from God who
expressed his value for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our esteem is found in Jesus Christ and our purpose
is allowing Jesus Christ to live through us. It’s not self-esteem the Christian should seek but rather God esteem.
Embracing God-esteem is true freedom. Gods-esteem will be there long after our ability to perform fades away. Gods
esteem for us never fades because it’s dependent on God not us. However embracing God-esteem is not for the faint
of heart, it comes with a cost, to believe it will cost us our pride, it will cost our self-esteem.
Although we can’t work to earn Gods esteem, anymore than we can work to earn salvation, it doesn’t mean
works are not important to God. Because God esteems us doesn’t mean he won’t judge us. Having God-esteem and
having Gods approval are two different things. God will always esteem, value, and love us no matter what. However,
God will not always approve of our behavior. The more Jesus Christ is formed in us the more we will have God’s
approval. It is not us God approves of, because apart from God there is no good in us (Romans 3:10), it is his son
Jesus Christ in us whom God approves. Our inability to impress God is a hard pill for us to swallow, because we have
a tendency to compare our goodness against each other instead of seeing ourselves in the light of Gods goodness.
From God’s point of view the only good in us, is Christ in us. The only thing we can do is to get out of the way by
dying to self (Gal 2:20). Any crowns that we receive we will have the joy of casting at his feet. The reason our
crowns are cast at the feet of Jesus is because it is his work through us.
While self-esteem is not an accurate term for the Christian it doesn’t mean we should stop praising each other
for a job well done, how nice someone is, how great the kids did in school, how good your wife cooks, what a great
athlete someone is, what an inspiring teacher, etc.... The problem is not so much in the giving of praise to others as
long as our motives are right and we don’t idolize them. The problem comes with what we do with the praise that is
given to us. Of course there is nothing wrong with a gracious “thank you” for a compliment. However, we must not
use our abilities and the praise of men as basis for our worth or we fall into the trap of pride and self-esteem. On the
other hand if you think you have no value to God, look to the cross and know that God values and esteems you above
anything else in all of creation.

paul dugo