As a result of modern psychology, we hear a great deal of emphasis placed upon self-esteem. Self-esteem means "a favorable opinion of oneself." Self-esteem is considered essential for the success in the world and good overall mental health. This makes sense because a person cannot succeed without the confidence to believe that he can become successful.
However, the opinion that a person has of himself must be accurate, and it must be relative. To the saints in Rome, Paul wrote "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" (Rom. 12:3). This passage (verses 3-8) deals with the use of personal abilities or gifts in the church. By the Holy Spirit, Paul explained how that every person with his particular abilities works together in the one body of Christ. Each is a member of the others.
From this passage, we see that the accuracy of one's self-esteem within the church is based upon his sober understanding of his own ability and role as a Christian. Each person has been given a "measure of faith," or in other words, a number of abilities to be used in the service of God. A person should not seek to do those things that he has learned he cannot do. There is a degree to which a person ought to value his abilities, but it should not exceed their actual value.
We also see from this passage that one's self-esteem must be relative to two things. First, a person must realize that whatever abilities he has were given to him by God, and his opinion of himself must always be relative to this fact. Any time that we try to value ourselves apart from God we deceive ourselves because apart from Him, we are worthless. All that we have, God has given to us, and we become arrogant if we think otherwise. Second, our self-esteem must be relative to the fact that each of us is just one part of the whole. No one person can do everything, but everyone needs each other person to accomplish the work of the church.
These principles about self-esteem should also go beyond the church. In the family, each member has a role given to him or her by God that should be esteemed accurately. Each member of the family needs the others to do their parts in order to be complete. In the world, people with many different abilities are needed for society to function properly. Doctors are not greater than carpenters, engineers are not greater than home-makers, etc. Each one should esteem himself accurately and realize the importance of others in the world.
The arrogance of our society teaches our children that importance and success are based upon the size of our salaries, the amount of education that we have, or the beauty of our appearances. As Christians, let us teach ourselves and our children to have a proper esteem for self and for others according to the measures by which God esteems us. We must think of ourselves and others as people created in the image of God to serve Him and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13). Real self-esteem is realized by considering that God values you. He gave His own Son for you!
Stacey E. Durham
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