What is self-esteem?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines self esteem as: “Belief and confidence in your own ability and value.”
Self-esteem, by its very words—‘esteeming self’—often results in either arrogance and superiority (for those who think they deserve a lot of esteem) or self-consciousness and self-loathing (for those who think they deserve little esteem).
The right kind of confidence can only be based on true self-worth—believing you are a valuable person to be respected and loved. Without this deep sense of worth you can never be truly happy. Most parents automatically give a sense of worth to their children by loving and adoring them unconditionally. And while a parent’s love is a great start, it isn’t all we need.
“It is often said that to have a fulfilling life, three essentials are required: a clear sense of personal identity, a deep sense of faith and meaning, and a strong sense of purpose and mission…If you don’t answer the most important questions of your life, then you will be gullible for any crazy idea(s) that you encounter” (Vertical Thought Editorial June 2008).
The purpose of this study is to help you find that ‘clear sense of personal identity’—a proper assessment of your worth. Those who simply try to build their own self-esteem find it a shallow and temporary endeavor. Defeats and failure, successes and triumphs can make self-esteem a roller coaster. Having a proper sense of your own personal identity however, leads to true inner confidence and stability. But how do you get your own personal identity? If you have ever been around someone who is conceited, arrogant or self-righteous, you probably realize these are not the kinds of ‘identities’ you want to portray. And, while good grooming, wearing nice clothes and being as attractive as possible help, they aren’t the basis for true inner confidence and a healthy self-image. The Bible has a great deal to say about how we are to think of ourselves and our personal value.
Love or Hate Ourselves?
Are we to think well of ourselves?
Galatians 5:14 Galatians 5:14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Ephesians 5:28-29 Ephesians 5:28-29 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church:
American King James Version×“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”
1. Can someone who doesn’t love himself or herself love anyone else? Is it therefore wrong to love ourselves?
Comment: While some seem to love themselves too much, others have difficulty even liking themselves. Some may be putting up a front of confidence—bullies, clowns, showoffs, the boisterous, bad, or cynical, as well as many other types—while deep down they don’t really like who they are. Loving others as ourselves means that we don’t try to hurt them anymore than we would try to hurt ourselves and, instead, that we treat them as well as we treat ourselves.
2. While we all must feed, groom, clothe and care for ourselves, do some people spend too much time caring for and thinking about themselves?
2 Timothy 3:1-2 2 Timothy 3:1-2 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
American King James Version×…In the last days…men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers…
Comment: The idea that we need “self” esteem has caused some to be completely self-absorbed and self-centered—‘lovers of themselves’—just as Paul prophesied.
3. In what way do people show they are ‘lovers of themselves’?
Psalms 36:2 Psalms 36:2For he flatters himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.
American King James Version×For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.
4. What happens when people are self-centered?
James 3:16 James 3:16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
American King James Version×For where envy and self-seeking exist , confusion and every evil thing are there.
Comment: Don’t you find that self-seeking people—those consumed with their opinions, their looks, their pursuits, their hobbies, their sports and accomplishments—are quite boring and annoying?
5. In what way are we to think of ourselves?
Romans 12:3 Romans 12:3For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
American King James Version×;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.
Philippians 2:3 Philippians 2:3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
American King James Version×Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Comment: Strong’s concordance states that “lowliness of mind” is: “having a humble opinion of one’s self.” Some think that being humble means being weak, but Christ—who is our model for humility—had immense power to heal, teach, forgive sins, resurrect from the dead and judge. He spoke openly and honestly and berated the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, even turning over the money-changers’ tables in the Temple. His humility was not in acting falsely modest but in His servitude to mankind, eventually giving His very life for us.