|By: Dr. Steven Riser; ©2004|
|If you’ve ever said to yourself, “God doesn’t really care about me,” or “I’m unlovable,” you’re probably basing your self-worth on something or someone around you. Dr. Riser explains where you can find your true significance!|
Texts: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans12:3
Have you ever said to yourself: “God doesn’t really care about me... I am an unlovable, worthless person... Nobody will ever love me...I’ll never be able to change...I’ve been a failure all my life...I guess I’ll always be a failure...If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me?”
Have you ever asked yourself, “What effect, if any, does the Bible have on my self esteem?” Do we seek for security and purpose from worldly sources: personal success, status, beauty, wealth and the approval of others? Is our self-esteem based of the others’ approval or on our experience of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ? Why is it so difficult to turn on the light of objectivity on ourselves by ourselves (Jer. 17:9, 10)? Why are we so afraid to take an honest look within ourselves? Are we afraid of what we will find (1 John 1:7)? And even if we discover what’s wrong with us, are we afraid that nothing can help us?
Whether our hurts are mild or severe, it is wise to be honest about them in the context of affirming relationships so that healing can begin. King David said in Psalm 51:6, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Note: David said this after living a lie, hiding his sin with Bathsheba, for the better part of a year.) The Lord desires truth and honesty at the deepest level and wants us to experience his forgiveness, love and power. The Psalms give us great insight into what it means to be honest with God.
In this article we shall consider the biblical basis for our self-worth. We will seek:
As you read this article, ask God for the courage to be honest. Give Him permission to shine the Spirit’s light on your thoughts, feelings, words, attitudes and actions. Ask God to turn His light on in your life (Psalm 139: 23, 24).
1. We Need to Identify and Understand the Nature of Man’s Search for Significance
Most of us have such a desire for the love and approval of others that we live to please them (vs. pleasing God). Those who live for the approval of others are never satisfied, at least not for very long. A very basic personal need of each individual is to regard himself as a worthwhile human being. The need we have for the approval of others underscores a greater need—the need for self-worth.
The Scriptures provide the essentials for discovering our true significance, purpose and worth. The basic purpose why we were created is to honor and glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Our value is derived from the fact that we are a special creation of God—created in His image.
The first step in discovering our self-worth is understanding the truth that makes life significant.
Some secular psychologists focus on self-esteem with the goal of simply feeling good about ourselves. A biblical self-concept focuses on self-worth based on an accurate perception of God, ourselves and others.
Self-esteem (feeling good about ourselves) is not enough, we need to have self: acceptance, worth, and respect. Understanding this basic need opens the door to understanding what motivates our attitudes and actions. Since our need for self-worth and significance is God-given, only God knows how to best fulfill these needs.
Many of us make the serious mistake of trying to meet legitimate God-given needs in illegitimate ways. Many are deceived into believing that the basis of our self-worth is our performance and ability to please others. For better or for worse, our self-esteem and view of God is usually a mirror of our parents’ attitude toward us. For most of us, our parents and especially our fathers serve as our models of the character of our heavenly Father.
A basic question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I trusting in the death of Christ for my sins and His resurrection to give me new life?” If we would have a healthy self-concept, we must give up our efforts to achieve righteous-ness and trust in Christ’s death and His resurrection alone to enable us to experience God’s love and forgiveness.
The key to a biblical self-concept is to recognize that: Personal worth is a gift of God. It is not earned or achieved, cannot be added to or taken away from, need not be proved and must not be denied. We do nothing to qualify for it. It is ours because of Christ. As with any gift, it must be consciously received or accepted with thanksgiving.
We need to under go a transition from (works) a “have to” mentality to (grace) a “want to” mentality. Changing our thinking requires: knowledge and application of God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of others. Christ is the source of security, significance and selfworth—the only one who promises and never fails.
There are several elements which work together over time to promote a healthy sense of self worth: humility, honesty, affirming relationships, right thinking, godly wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s Power. Secondly,
2. We Must Recognize and Challenge Inadequate Bases for our Self-Esteem
There are four false beliefs resulting from Satan’s deceptions with corresponding negative consequences:
There are many reasons why we should want to obey God. Here are seven:
Because of regeneration, I am a new creation—complete in Christ. I no longer need to experience the pain of shame. I have a new nature, a new heart, a new occupant on the throne, a new source of identity—who I am in Christ!
First, we expose our negative thoughts, false beliefs and traps that trigger our negative emotions. We can begin to allow God’s Word and Spirit to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). Renewing our minds comes from meditating and assimilating God’s Word into our lives (Psa. 1:1-3).
Paul teaches that there are certain types of thoughts that should occupy our minds (Phil. 4:8). The battle with sin is fought and won or lost in our hearts and minds (2 Cor. 10:5; Rom. 8:5-11). We should experience an overwhelming thankfulness for our forgiveness in response to God’s grace.
Who is the real you? Your old nature or your new nature? The answer is simple: the one that will be with you for all eternity. If you only have one nature (your sinful, selfish human nature) then that is the real you (Eph. 2:3-4). If you have a new nature (given to you by the Holy Spirit) then that is the real you (2 Cor. 5:17). If you want to have a healthy biblical self-concept, you need to recognize the real you (Eph. 4:3).
The Apostle Paul clearly distinguished between the character and results of the old nature and the new nature. The differences center around four words: know, consider, present and obey.
To Know—we need to know the basic facts about who we are in Christ (Romans 6:3-10) To Consider—we need to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11)
To Present—we need to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:12-13)
To Obey—perpetuate our commitment through moment by moment obedience to Christ (Romans 6:15-18)
Our goal is to honor Christ because He is worthy of our faith, love, loyal and obedience. We honor Christ by accurately representing Him in every thought, action, relationship, and conversation—bearing His image.
How do we apply these truths to our lives?
Realize that you are deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted, and complete in Christ because of what He has done on your behalf. You are free! Free to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).