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INTRODUCTION:

 

We have already observed that, unless we are being healed in our emotional life, this area of our being can become Satan's playground. This is certainly true in the area of how we perceive ourselves; i.e. our self image. We can become victims of distortions and contradictions. Add to this our cultural bias towards self-belittling and putting others down (even in jest) and we have a strong tendency towards discounting personal worth.

 

Some of this struggle comes about because we often fail to distinguish between human pride and legitimate self-worth or self-image.

 

HUMAN PRIDE = self-centred, personal appraisal based on self-effort apart from God's evaluation.

 

SELF-WORTH = God-centred appraisal based on God's evaluation of our lives.

 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12/3)

 

Not only are we not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, nor should we think more lowly! "Sober judgment" means "accurately". In what sense does "the measure of faith" come into this equation?

 

[1] THE POWER OF LOW SELF-ESTEEM

 

A. It cripples our potential.

In Numbers 13/33 we read We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

 

Despite the promises of God and His re-assurance, God's people embraced and believed a distorted and inaccurate of themselves. They likened themselves to grasshoppers and assumed that their opponents saw them the same way. They were wrong on both counts!

 

Read Joshua 2/8-11 to see how their opponents really felt about them.

 

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roofand said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

 

Low or non-existent self-worth or appropriate sense of significance can paralyze our God-given potential, gifts and abilities so that we are rendered largely or completely inactive.

 

B. It ruins our relationships.

Our relationship with God is negatively impacted and becomes performance-based. "How could God love someone like me? I must make myself more worthy of His love". This low self-worth also effects our relationship with others because our sense of inferiority & inadequacy causes us to either withdraw into relational isolation or to try so hard to win approval that we drive people away.

 

C.  It sabotages our ministry

Because our ministry or service for God becomes performance-based, that ministry becomes a duty to be performed rather than a joy to be fulfilled. Like the older son in the story of the Lost Son (Luke 15), we depend upon our efforts to be accepted by God, our heavenly father.

 

[2] THE FORMATION OF SELF-ESTEEM

 

It will help us in our exploration if we can understand the factors that contribute to the formation of our self-esteem.

 

A. Personal Factors

This is the life of our inner world - the person we were born with all the variety of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attributes given to us at birth. These include our capacity to learn & respond. This also includes the handicaps, deformities etc. that are the legacy of being born in sin and into a sinful world.

 

B. Social Factors

This is the totality of our experiences and the influences in our life and relationships to this point in time. The major influences in our formative years are those of our parents and significant others - for better or for worse. We see ourselves reflected in the mirror of other people's words, actions and attitudes towards us - for better or for worse; often for worse! Other social factors include possessions, education, appearance, social standing etc.

 

C. Spiritual Factors

Satan exploits these emotional "infirmities" or vulnerability by reinforcing our feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness. He belittles us with lies, accusations and soul-destroying distortions of the truth. On the other side of the spiritual equation, God alone has complete, accurate and trustworthy understanding and evaluation of each of us. To enter into His truth about us is the key to a healthy, accurate and liberated self-image and self-worth.

 

[3] THE RECOVERY OF TRUE SELF-ESTEEM

 

Self-belittling or self-hate do NOT equal true humility. On the contrary, to speak negatively about yourself is just as powerful as someone else speaking negatively about you. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10/27)

 

According to this verse, we are to love in 3 directions. Can you see them? The fact is that we cannot love others freely and with no hidden agendas until we can love ourselves….accept ourselves…..be at peace with ourselves….. because God loves us and accepts us.Our value is not in what we do, where we work, how hard we minister, how much we have, the level of our education, our appearance or our ability.

 

The basis of our self-esteem is in who God says we are!! Here are 6 affirmations that can destroy the distortions and lies & enthrone the truth.

 

1. God loves me so deeply   This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4/9,16)

 

2. God honours me so highly Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3/2)

 

3. God values me so completely.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5/6-8)

 

4. God provides for me so fully.   What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8/31-34)

 

5. God plans for me so carefully.   O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!(Psalm 139/1-6 NLT)

 

6.God delights in me so abundantly.   The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph.3/17)

 

CONCLUSION:

We are now confronted with a choice!

 

1. Shall we continue to listen to and believe the distorted messages from my childhood?

2. Shall we continue to look at myself through the mirror of other people's opinions?

3. Shall we continue to allow Satan's lies and accusations to be the ultimate "put down"?

4. Shall I begin to listen to, believe and act upon what God says about my worth & value? The key to adopting No. 4 has to do with what the Bible calls the "renewing of my mind". Self effort won't do it. Here's how the New Living Translation puts Romans 12/2

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

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