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Commentary on "Self-Esteem"



Day 4: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - What Others See



“The effects of prejudice are devastating on self-esteem and performance. As Christians, we should be making a concentrated effort to uplift and encourage others, regardless of their background.” (Teacher’s Quarterly, Page 106)



Prejudice is a terrible thing. There is no doubting the economic, educational and emotional costs, but the impact prejudice has on someone need not extend beyond the unfair treatment. There is no requirement on the part of the person who experiences prejudice to believe the lies. In short, whom are you going to believe, a bigot or Jesus?

I can hear some of you revolting at these words. “That’s just some privileged white guy spouting off about something he knows nothing about.” But I do know something about it. I spent five and one-half years in Hawaii – fifth grade through high school sophomore – years which are very important in the development of a self-concept. I still recoil from the sting of the word haole (when used pejoratively). Who of us doesn’t know the embarrassment of publicly misspelling a word, flubbing a white-board math problem, striking out, dropping a pass, missing the easy lay up – all while your so-called friends hoot, holler and cat-call?

Part of growing up involves learning to put these kinds of statements and treatment into their proper perspective. Prejudice is, first and foremost, about fear, fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, fear of having something taken away, etc.

As Christians, background should have nothing whatever to do with how we treat people. This is what Paul means when he says there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male or female. We are called to love as we have been loved (see John 15:12-17) and to forgive as we have been forgiven (see Ephesians 4:32).

This is completely different than what the world suggests. In the history of the world there has been no more racist, sexist, performance oriented society than ours. It’s disgusting. Everywhere you turn people are judging and being judged by their ethnicity, their jobs, their incomes, the schools they attend, the cities in which they live, where they attend church, and on and on.

Thought questions: Why does the Seventh-day Adventist church in the United States still practice separate-but-equal organization? Why do African American pastors get paid less and receive less retirement pay when they finish their church careers?

What a witness we could be if we actually took to heart what it means to be a child of God, one through whom He pours His love into the world. If we did, then false assessments of us would be swatted away as easily as a pesky fly – a bother, but nothing more.



  1. To talk about prejudice as “devastating on self-esteem and performance” is to give prejudice far too big a say in my life.
  2. Prejudice is psychologically devastating only in so far as I believe and internalize the lie.
  3. This is not to say that words and ill treatment have no power. They do.
  4. God has called us to a higher reality – to love as He loves us and to forgive as we have been forgiven.




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Official Adventist Resources

Standard Edition Study Guide Week 9

Teacher's Edition Study Guide Week 9

Easy Reading Edition Study Guide Wk 9

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