Self-worth is frequently based on our feelings of worth in terms of our skills, achievements, status, financial resources, or physical attributes. This kind of self-esteem or self-worth often cultivates an independent and arrogant attitude. When we find ourselves not measuring up to society’s criteria for worth, we suffer serious consequences. Our self-worth depreciates dramatically. The illusion of being successful and admired gives way to disillusionment as our possessions and achievements that once nourished our souls fail to satisfy our appetites. Every individual experiences basic needs -- hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc. We are conditioned to satisfy these needs by getting something -- food, drink, or rest. Mistakenly we conclude that by getting, we will achieve an acceptable self-worth/esteem. Nothing depreciates self-worth faster than regret, anger, fear or failure.
The Christian should focus on and answer these questions in the context of his relationship to God!The Christian can begin to see himself as God sees him: in other words, to think “soberly” about himself, neither over‑valuing nor under‑valuing himself. 1 Cor. 15:9,10 - For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Along with other important attitude changes when one becomes a Christian, there is a refreshing change in the attitude a person is able to have about himself.The Christian’s new identity (who he is) is the basis of a new self‑image (how he sees himself).In this lesson, we will look for an appreciation of this new view of ourselves.
A. The need for a new way of looking at ourselves 1.Low self‑esteem is a problem of epidemic proportions. 1.1.“Life is one long struggle to think well of ourselves.” 1.2.The need to be appreciated — by self as well as others — is deeply embedded in human nature. 1.3.Millions are unable to “live with themselves,” ridden with fears of insecurity, inferiority, unacceptability, or even worthlessness. 1.4.Depression and suicide are frighteningly common.
2.Low self‑esteem multiplies its own agony. 2.1.“When a man finds no repose in himself, it is vain for him to seek it elsewhere” (French proverb). 2.2.When we are at odds with self, we are usually at odds with others. 2.2.1.“Our tendency to major on the negatives in others is often the offensive odor from painful, perhaps undetected abscesses of our own feelings of inferiority and self‑hate” (Ruth Myers). 2.2.2.Putting others down because we are down on ourselves only causes others to think less of us — which, in turn, destroys our self‑esteem even further. 2.3.Our frustration with external circumstances is often the result of frustration with ourselves. 2.3.1.The man who can’t stand himself can’t stand much else. 2.3.2.“A poor workman always finds fault with his tools.” 2.4.Humanistic psychiatry offers only two basic solutions to this agonizing problem, both of which are inadequate: 2.4.1.We are advised to accept self “as is.” 2.4.2.Or we are advised to make stronger human efforts to improve self.
B. The possibility of a new way of looking at ourselves 3.How God looks at the Christian. 3.1.Apparent value versus true worth. 3.1.1.Whatever God’s judgment of a person might be, we can be sure it is based upon real values, not merely external appearances. 3.1.2.“The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Sam. 16:7). 220.127.116.11.Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). 18.104.22.168.Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For we do not commend ourselves to you, but give you opportunity to glory on our behalf, that you may have something to answer those who glory in appearance and not in heart” (2 Cor. 5:12). 3.1.3.“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost” (Tolkien). 3.1.4.God objectively and realistically sees both strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. 3.2.God’s concern for the individual 3.2.1.Mt. 10:29‑31 - Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. 3.2.2.Lk. 15:4‑7 - What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one, which is lost until he finds it?And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. 22.214.171.124 Pt. 5:7 - Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 3.3.Why the individual Christian is important to God. 3.3.1.Because of who he is. 126.96.36.199.We are made “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:26,27). 188.8.131.52.1.“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6:26). 184.108.40.206.2.“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36,37). 220.127.116.11.As a human being — a creature in God’s image — each individual has inherent value as a person: a unique personality, rational thought, a moral faculty, a spiritual nature, an eternal soul, etc. 3.3.2.Because of what he cost. 18.104.22.168.Each human being, whether a Christian or not, has inherent worth as a person in God’s image. 22.214.171.124.But the Christian is more than just a human being: he has been “purchased” in love by God at the cost of His own Son’s blood 126.96.36.199.1.John. 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life 188.8.131.52.2.Acts 20:28 - Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood 184.108.40.206.3.1 Pet. 1:18,19 - knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot 220.127.116.11.4.1 Jn. 4:9‑11 - In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another 18.104.22.168.5.Though this blessing is potentially available to all men, it is only the Christian who actually enjoys this unique relationship to God 22.214.171.124.5.1.1 Pet. 2:9 - But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light 126.96.36.199.5.2.1 Tim. 4:10 - For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe 188.8.131.52.6.The Christian, therefore, is special and distinctive to God — dedicated and set apart especially as the valued possession of God 184.108.40.206.6.1.1 Cor. 6:20 - For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's 220.127.116.11.In Christ, no person is “inferior” in status before God
18.104.22.168.1.Gal. 3:26‑28 - For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus 3.3.3.Because of what he can become. 22.214.171.124.God is concerned not only with what we have been, but with what we can be in the future 126.96.36.199.1.John 8:11 - Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more 188.8.131.52.Even God’s discipline is evidence of His fatherly concern for our potential 184.108.40.206.1.Heb. 12:7,8 -If you endure chastening, God deals with you, as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons
4.How the Christian can look at himself. 4.1.The questions Who am I? and What am I worth? are nearly impossible to answer except in relationship to someone else. 4.2.The Christian can answer these questions in the context of his relationship to God! 4.3.The Christian can begin to see himself as God sees him: in other words, to think “soberly” about himself, neither over‑valuing nor under‑valuing himself 4.3.1.Rom. 12:3 - For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith 4.4.The results are: 4.4.1.A sense of personal worth and value. 4.4.2.A sense of personal dignity, self‑respect, and honor. 4.4.3.A sense of wholeness and well‑being. 4.4.4.A healthy ego. 4.5.Whether worth is calculated in terms of what one has, what one does, or what one is, the Christian can see that his worth is more than what he has or has been able to make of himself by mere human efforts. Cf. Jer. 9:23,24. 4.5.1.“The self‑made man is usually a horrible example of unskilled labor!” 4.5.2.We can learn much from Paul’s self‑image 220.127.116.11.1 Cor. 15:9,10 - For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me 4.6.Possible misconceptions. 4.6.1.Misunderstandings about “greatness” in spiritual matters 18.104.22.168.Mk. 9:33‑35 - Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all 22.214.171.124.2 Cor. 10:12,17-18 - For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise…But "he who glories, let him glory in the LORD."For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends 4.6.2.Misunderstandings about “humility.” 126.96.36.199.Humility is not the belittling of self, masochism — self-effacement is not the same as self‑“defacement.” 188.8.131.52.Humility is not an excuse from work, involvement. 184.108.40.206.1.“I can’t” is often a “humble” cover‑up for “I don’t want to.” 220.127.116.11.2.False humility is a “nice” way of shifting work off onto the shoulders of others. 18.104.22.168.Humility is not fishing for compliments, a roundabout way of exalting self. 4.6.3.Misunderstandings about “righteousness.” 22.214.171.124.Passages like Isa. 64:6 (“We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags”) do not mean that it is impossible to please God. 126.96.36.199.In this life, it is not possible to be perfect, but it is possible to be mature: “Let us, as many as are mature, have this mind” (Phil. 3:15). 188.8.131.52.Without faith it is impossible to please God, but with faith it is possible to please Him 184.108.40.206.1.Heb. 11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him 4.6.4.Misunderstandings about “confidence.” 220.127.116.11.Jesus rebuked those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Lk. 18:9‑14). 18.104.22.168.A confident sense of personal worth does not involve pride, arrogance, self‑righteousness, or competition.
One of the most wonderful things about life in Christ is that we cannot only be at peace with God and our fellow man, but also with ourselves!Conversely, a good self‑image improves our thinking about God and our fellow man.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 22:37‑40).
When we are able to cease looking at ourselves “according to the flesh,” we will be able to do the same with other people: “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer” (2 Cor. 5:16).
Let us remember that true self‑respect comes from the doing of God's Will.
“How can a man come to know himself? Never by thinking, but by doing. Try to do your duty, and you will know at once what you are worth” (Goethe).
7.2.“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
Let us, each day, respond anew with humility, gratitude, and confidence in the love of God, which has imparted to us the sense of being valuable to our Creator!