Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Bondage of Self Esteem # 3


"Self-esteem for the Christian is a paradox: The more of the real thing you have, the less you think about how good you are.The stronger you get, the more you become aware of your weaknesses.
The better you look, the less you care who's looking. The more self-esteem you have, the less self-conscious you are”. {Arla Caraboolad}

The self worth that we should have comes not from understanding yourself and accepting yourself but from an understanding of who God is and your relationship with God. Godly self-worth needs to be centered around Jesus, not yourself. A Godly self-image is seeing yourself as God sees you; no more and no less. True self worth is knowing who you are, but in order to know that, you must know who you belong to. From that knowledge you will be able to understand and accept your value.

Humanistic Self Esteem vs Godly Self Worth

1) Self-esteem is based on what we do and how we behave.
We judge ourselves harshly on our performance around others that we want to impress. How many times do we lay awake torturing ourselves with "I should have said this, or that or behaved a certain way. What will they think of me?" A self esteem based on performance means that we will feel terrible about ourselves when we mess it up. It is human nature to mess up! We imprison ourselves when we base our self worth on this.

Godly self esteem says otherwise. God's love of us is not based on anything. He loved us first, he extended his gift of Salvation first. His love for us never changes. It is constant and everlasting. He loves us even when our behavior or performance slips. To him, we are more than what we do and how we behave. A self worth based on God's thoughts towards us will never bind us.

2) Self-esteem is based on how we feel about ourselves.
Let's face it, humans are fickle. They love you one moment, hate you the next. You are best friends one moment, fighting the next. We love spending time together one moment, need some space the next. We bag out that drug addict singer one moment and when she is dead rave about how much we loved her. Human emotion is not to be trusted. How we feel about ourselves is decided on what is going on around us at the time - like a thermometer. It is influenced by it's environment.  You reacted badly to a piece of news - you are a bad person. You gave money to a charity - you are a good person. You saved a man's life - man you totally rock!! You hate that your best friend is pregnant and you have been trying for years - you are a terrible, terrible person. You got a promotion - I must be awesome. You got laid off - I must suck.

How God feels about us is like a thermostat, it influences it's environment, keeping it steady and remaining unchanging. Godly self worth does not fluctuate wildly like self esteem does. It is steady and strong.

3) Self-esteem is based on what we think about ourselves.
Some of us loathe ourselves. We are too fat, too thin, too ugly, have a big nose, have a terrible laugh, have no personality, have no skills in certain areas etc. What we think about ourselves are usually a bit warped. For example (this is a true thought pattern that happened) A person in authority made a stupid joke. This guy jokes around all the time and puts people down in jest a fair bit. So after this terrible joke I did a sarcastic fake laugh thinking "if it's acceptable for him to do it, it should be acceptable for me to do it." His response was not positive. In fact I think I offended him! So... here begins my thoughts "Oh no. I don't think he liked that. Oh dear, he didn't laugh like I thought he would. He's looking at me strangely. Oh no, he thinks I'm a bad person, I AM a bad person! How could I be so rude? Think before you speak Skip! Now you just muffed any chance of getting to use your giftings in the church. He will hold that against you. You deserve it you dimwit! You nobody! Man, you can't do anything right. Just shut your mouth and don't say anything. Now you are going to have to try and make up for it. Stupid STUPID girl."

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You can relax, my self worth was not influenced by my crazy thinking. It doesn't stop the crazy thoughts, it's just that I learn to dismiss them and not believe the lies of the enemy. I am not stupid. I am not a bad person. I misjudged the situation. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Who cares what I thought?

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." {Isaiah 55:8-9}
What we think about ourselves is very harsh and usually very warped - like my own thoughts after this relatively minor event. Thankfully I know that my thoughts about myself are less than true. God's thoughts towards me are 100% true though and I can rely on them to be constant and reliable.

4) Self-esteem is based on how we’re doing compared to others.
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Let's face it, when we compare to others, we tend to feel even worse about ourselves. They are better than me, they have more than me, they look better than me etc etc. The truth is, no matter how amazing we are at any given thing, there will always be somebody better.

Remember what Paul said? But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!{2 Corinthians 10:13-14}

We are running our own race, walking our own journey, living our own lives, making our own choices. I have been created unique and individual and in the image of God. There should not be any comparison to any other person. God doesn't do it! "I wish Skip would be more like Billy Graham. Why can't you be more like Martin Luther?" So if God doesn't do it, why should I do it?


5) Self-esteem is based entirely on judgments, whether from others or from ourselves.

When criticized for doing something wrong or whatever - does your whole self esteem plummet? Do you respond harshly and angrily? Do you feel like you are nothing? Criticism when you are secure in who you are and whose you are should not effect you so drastically than if your security lies in your self esteem. Don't get me wrong, no one likes to be criticized, but if we have a Godly self worth, criticizm will not destroy us.

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Judging and being judged is not Godly. End of story.
"Do not judge others" {Matthew 7:12}

Godly self-worth is not based on what other's think of you, or what you think of you - but how God sees you and values you and loves you. God does not see you as a “personality” but as a “soul,” with unchanging potential and worth. 

6) Self esteem is rooted in fear.
A fear of failure, a fear of your built up self esteem to crumble.... again! A fear of rejection. A fear of judgement. A fear of criticism. A fear of not being liked. A fear of all your failings rearing it's ugly head again. Fear is crippling and binding. 

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Fear has no place in Godly self worth.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline {2 Timothy 1:7}

We have nothing to fear if our worth is based on God's love for us. Nothing. His opinion of us will never change. We will always be his kids and his love for us is so vast. 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. {Romans 8: 38-39}

CONCLUSION:
Don't sell yourself short. Don't buy the whole "love yourself", "accept yourself" and "forgive yourself" "look for inner beauty" lies. Not only are they unbiblical, but they will wrap chains around you, inhibiting you and preventing you from living a life of freedom. Don't look within yourself, look up and out towards your Creator. You were made in HIS image, you are HIS child, and you need to know HIM in order to understand your value and place in this world. Stop reading books on how to feel beautiful and how to love the inner you. Open your Bible and start learning about the Father who created you and loves you. Use what you have learned as a weapon against the lies of the enemy! Start living a life of freedom and possibility instead of accepting humanistic lies and allowing yourself to become a prisoner of self esteem. 

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. {Isaiah 64:6}






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