Monday, March 18, 2013

The bondage of self esteem #1

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. {Philippians 2:3-4}

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Low self esteem, self esteem issues, good self esteem.... - it's unlikely that you don't know anything about it. It's everywhere! It's likely you have heard teaching about self esteem in the church and how you are to "love yourself" and "forgive yourself" and "accept yourself". Self esteem psychology has infiltrated the church and it's members and instead of giving some a sense of freedom it promises, it has bound them in chains, imprisoning them and preventing them to live the life that they were meant for. Why has it done this? Why has the acceptance of oneself caused people to become restricted? Because teaching us to value ourselves is not a Godly concept. People end up spending their lives trying to feel better about themselves and boost that feeling of unworthiness.

Self esteem psychology is basically humanism. So what is humanism?
Humanism defined is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanism is valuing human interests, values and dignity over anything else.

Self esteem in it's definition shows that it is a humanistic idea. The term self-esteem comes from a Greek word meaning "reverence for self." It is a respect for or a favorable opinion of oneself.  Self esteem teaches self love, self promotion and self-glorification and instead of rejecting glorification of oneself. Reverence is not for oneself - but for God alone.

Look in your Christian bookshop. How many books are being sold in the millions that are based on self esteem? Anything with the title "Beautiful" in it appeal to women who long to raise their self esteem and feel beautiful.  Parenting books are filled with advice on raising your child's self esteem so they don't feel inadequate and inferior. The list goes on and on.

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Nowhere in the Bible do we see God instructing and encouraging us to have a healthy self image. Look at some of the greatest people in the Bible - and we see exactly what they see themselves as.

When Abraham was beseeching God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah: “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes." {Genesis 18:27} Abraham new that he was nothing before the Father yet God loved Abraham and him in a mighty way and he lived his life to his full potential as the Father of many nations. Yet he saw himself as dust and ashes. He's not exactly exuding self esteem here.

When God called Moses to free the Israelites from 400 years of slavery: "But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” {Exodus 3:11} the chapter later he went on to say “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled." {Genesis 4:10} Here is a man who knew that he was not capable of big things and didn't pretend to either. His greatness did not come from within himself, but from where God lead him. Moses felt insecure in his abilities and doubted God's choices, but he was used in a mighty way as the Deliverer of the Hebrew slaves.

On the eve of Saul being annointed as the King of Israel - a powerful job and by a powerful prophet. Samuel said to him "And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.”Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” {Samuel 9:20-21}
Saul had been chosen BY GOD and Saul did not have a self-appreciation of himself. He knew that he was nothing special. But yet was annointed to be the very first King of Israel and he ruled for many years. He muffed it in the end, but the point is that in the beginning he had appropriate humility and a view of who he was.

John the Baptist told the people around him "But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals." {Matthew 3:11} John the Baptist had the most mighty ministry in his time, preparing the way for the Messiah! He lived his life in the complete will of God. He would have been quite chummy with Jesus - afterall they were cousins. We don't see name dropping, and pride in the fact that they are related. John knew he was not worthy.

The Bible tells us: Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. {Philippians 2:3}; "Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us."{Romans 12:3} 

Self esteem psychology is a trap. We are not asked to accept ourselves and love ourselves. We are not asked to look within us and build ourselves up. Our eyes should be looking at God and those around us, not ourselves! Self esteem is a very selfish idea. Our identity should be wrapped in God, not in our attributes and how amazing we are. If we are looking at how we feel about ourselves and let that define us and control us then we are not living the life that God intended for us. 

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you have to believe yourself as dirt and scum and have no worth whatsoever. That would be depressing!! I believe that the self esteem movement is a lie from the devil designed to bind and destroy God's people.

In "The Facts of Self-Esteem, Psychology and the Recovery movement, it is said "In fact the very 'self' that modern psychology exalts is the fallen self, whose exaltation God teaches will result in self-destruction. It is the selfism of modern psychology and culture that leads to widespread social desolation about us…The psychological concept of self-love leading to esteem and the biblical concept of self-denial leading to self-enrichment are diametrically opposed…The teaching of the Bible, human history and personal experience tell us that it is principally holiness that leads to emotional wholeness, and not vice versa. In fact, when emotional wholeness is pursued for itself, it rarely leads to personal holiness."

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