Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Bondage of Self Esteem # 2



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Many people try and justify self love by quoting this scripture: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” {Matthew 22:37-39}
Let's look at this closely. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees what the most important commandment from the law. He answered them with "love God and love your neighbour". There was not a third commandment chucked in there. Loving yourself is not a commandment. We are not told to love our neighbour AND ourselves, but AS ourselves.

So we are to love ourselves? Does this contradict what I have been saying? No. When we love someone like we love ourselves, we are going to assume that we have a desire for our own well being. We shower, we wear clean clothes, we eat healthy meals, we drink water, we exercise (well some of us do anyway! LOL), we live in healthy environment, when we are sick we go to the doctor etc. When Jesus said love your neighbour as yourself, he is saying "have the same concern for your fellow man/woman as you do for your own needs. If someone is hungry, feed them. If they are unhealthy, help them get back to health. "etc etc. You get the idea.

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"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}

The Bible tells us to not think we are better than we really are and to measure yourself by the faith God has given us. I'll be honest with you - when I look at my inside this is what I see:
Pride.
Anger
Resentment
Bad attitudes
Impatience
Jealousy
Inferiority
Critical spirit

And this is ok. Because I am a sinner! I can't look at my inside and fool myself that I have "inner beauty". This is not beauty. This is ugly!! And this is ok - because when I am honest in my evaluation of my heart, I am enabling God to say "These are the areas I want to work in your life." If I glossed over these very ugly traits and looked into my heart and only compassion, kindness, love, creativity, inspiration, words of wisdom etc, then I am doing myself a big diservice. I am silencing God and his desire to make me more like himself. I am saying to myself "I don't have to change because I am beautiful. "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. {Psalm 10:4}

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When one starts to self-love pride will become a real problem. Love in it's Biblical definition opposes this. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {1 Corinthians 13:4} It is written in the Bible that God doesn't look too kindly on pride. So we aren't to loathe ourselves, but yet we are not to focus on our self esteem. Where is the balance?

In Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth he says
"Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us... {2 Corinthians 10:12-14}

So I can boast that God has helped me deal with my explosive temper. By God's grace I have been changed from a bitter, abusive, nasty, hateful person into what God has made me today. I have been given boundaries in the areas of myself that I can take pride in. I can take pride in where God has lead me and how God has changed me.

What happens if I start to build my own self-esteem and base my self-worth on the areas outside of these boundaries? I will crash and burn! Because I can't hide the ugliness of my sinful self with all these positive traits that I may have forever. Self esteem is like a sand castle - it may look nice a pretty and sturdy, but when there is shift of wind, or sands the whole thing will crumble. Foundations of self worth and self love will crack and crumble and I will be left to rebuild my shattered or shaky self esteem again. This will become a vicious cycle and I will always be a prisoner of this misguided concept of how I should view myself.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. {Proverbs 16:18} It's inevitable. Self esteem will destroy you.



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