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Commentary on "Self-Esteem"



Day 3: Monday, February 21, 2011 - Self-perceptions



“What I see in myself is one important component of self-esteem.”

“There is a desirable middle area between extremely low self-esteem and arrogance. And Paul warns against the latter. At the same time, Romans 12:4-8 explains that the body of Christ needs the input of each member, according to the individual gifts given by grace. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging each gift, using them to strengthen Christ’s church, and thanking God for them.” (Teacher’s Quarterly, Page 104)



Perhaps the real problem with this week’s lesson is that the entire issue of identity is couched in “self-esteem”. One dictionary entry for the word “esteem” is “to regard highly or favorably; regard with respect or admiration.” This means that “self-esteem” means to “regard myself highly or favorably; regard myself with respect or admiration.”

Is this not the root of sin? Is this not how the Serpent tempted Eve? “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) Satan accused God of holding out on them, of hiding important information from them. He introduced to them a sense of worth, of self-esteem, and then used that deception to push them into open rebellion.

Humbly thanking God for His gifts to me is not the same as self-esteem. I exist solely at His discretion, and, truth be told, I deserve none of those gifts. I deserve to die. But instead of killing me, and the rest of humanity, God saved me. Having saved me He then invites me to participate as a member of the body of Christ, His church on earth. He allows me to be a conduit through whom He pours His love and grace in order to reach others with His gifts.

Spending any time at all contemplating the reality of salvation results in taking my eyes off myself and fixing them on Jesus. Against the backdrop of God’s initiative to me, my greatest gifts (at least the ones I thought were my greatest gifts) pale into insignificance and issues like looks, weight, height, education, job and the like are lost in the noise – they are non-issues.

What compares to Jesus? What compares to the indwelling Holy Spirit? What can any part of this flesh-and-blood offer? Nothing, and nothing, and nothing again. And yet, God saw me as valuable enough to save, and more than that, to use as part of His hands and feet in our world.

Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see!

This is the only self-perception I need. From poor and miserable and blind and naked to child of the Living God. Who could have imagined such a thing? But it is absolutely, unalterably, eternally true.



  1. Couching the issue of identity within the concept of self-esteem sets up a no-win situation. I can never measure up to the requirements of a perfect God, so I’m supposed to look inward to discover whatever gifting I have. I’m then to build on this realization to help myself feel better about me.
  2. This is the sin problem. I am told that I have intrinsic value solely because I’m me.
  3. The Bible puts it differently: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…” (Ephesians 3:14-15)
  4. Every bit of my identity and my self-concept is derived from the Father. I am nothing, except that He declares me to be His child and co-heir with Jesus. This identification is the only safety against the lies of self-love.




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