Saturday, April 5, 2014

Does God Desire A Positive Self-Esteem?

 by Jill Jackson

Many women struggle with low self-esteem. This may be a problem for those women because their mental picture is cultivated from personal experiences and interactions with others. Therefore, if experiences and interactions don’t provide "proof" that they’re lovable, valuable, and acceptable, then their feelings of self sit in a low, dark place. And in that low, dark place an inner voice whispers destructive words even more cutting than negative remarks of others.

Not having healthy self-esteem creates a ripple effect of problems. Relationships often struggle. Those who suffer with low self-worth can become “needy” due to a lack of confidence or engage in “prove you love me” antics to reaffirm their worth. They may withdraw for fear of rejection. They can fear failure to the point of not even trying to excel in something  because they’re convinced they can’t do it. Thus, they may never reach their potential. Those who suffer from low self-esteem frequently have an unbalanced focus on all the negatives in life which can lead to a depressed existence.

Though there may be many competing voices, (i.e. the media, friends, spouses)the one we should hear the loudest is the Lord’s. God wants us to have a positive self-worth. Consider with me the formula for a positive self-esteem found within God’s word.

First, we should feel positive about ourselves because we were created in God's image. Genesis 1:27 reads, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Of all the things God Almighty created, we (i.e. humans) are the only things created in his image. We are the only created beings with the capacity to think, reason, glorify God, and one day spend eternity with him. On that basis, we should feel positive, recognizing we are special to him.

Second, we should feel positive about ourselves because God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us. John said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). There is no greater love than that which the Father has for us. There is nothing that should make one feel more valuable than knowing God willingly sent his Son to die on our behalf—as undeserving sinners (cf. Romans 5:8).

Third, we should feel positive about ourselves because the Bible teaches that we are to love ourselves. Scripture instructs us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). God clearly desires that we have a healthy appreciation for ourselves. This passage does not suggest that we be filled with pride, thinking more highly of ourselves than we should, or that we love ourselves to the point that we focus on our strengths and ignore our shortcomings. What is suggested is that we deal kindly with ourselves as we would our neighbors. Appreciate the good qualities within, have patience with personal shortcomings, desire and strive to grow and do better, yet recognize the reality of imperfection. Some focus on perfection to the point that they are burdened with mistakes or failures. Certainly we should never be nonchalant when it comes to sin or weaknesses, but mistakes and failures can often be turned into opportunities to become better (Philippians 3:13-14). Love yourself. Be balanced in your feelings toward self by focusing on improving as opposed to the unrealistic goal of perfection.

Fourth, we should feel positive about ourselves because we can be valuable assets to the church. We can serve others on behalf of Christ. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). The beauty of the church is that everyone is important and can make a contribution. Some are natural evangelists and can turn any conversation into a spiritual teaching opportunity. Some are excellent at sending encouraging notes. Some are truly gifted at noticing visitors, making them feel at ease and welcome in a crowd of strangers. Some love teaching our young children’s Bible classes. Whatever age, whatever stage in life, there is a job any willing person can do for the cause of Christ. No act of service in the name of Christ is insignificant (Matthew10:42). The Lord values all contributions made from a heart full of love on his behalf.

Finally, we should feel positive about ourselves because God looks on the heart. The Lord told Samuel he “sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Though the world may feed the message that our worth is based upon our looks, the Lord says the opposite. His focus in on the heart, the inner beauty that is cultivated by a love for him. There is nothing more valuable or beautiful to the Lord than seeing a servant’s heart (John13:34, Galatians 6:2).

When it comes to building a positive self-esteem and seeing ourselves as God does, we must STARVE the negativity and FEED the positivity. Starve the mind of the views of others and the media, which are unrealistic expectations. Feed on a steady diet of the biblical principles that nurture healthy self esteem. We are special beings created in God’s image. He loved us so much he sent his son for us. He wants us to love ourselves. We can do good works for God. God sees your heart—the beautiful person you are.

Recommended Reading
Jackson, Wayne.The Bible and Self-Esteem.
Jackson, Wayne.Three Views of Self.

Image credits: <ahref=''>designpics / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
<a href=''>martinan / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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