by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

I.         Let me tell you about a man I know

            A.        He tells me that while he is not incapable, he is the most insignificant person in the group he associates with. Sometimes, he is ashamed to be connected with his friends because of the awful things that he has done in his youth (I Cor. 15:9)

            B.        His work is very difficult. The people are so annoying at times that he has been made to look like a fool because of them. You can tell the stress is getting to him; he has been calling himself a nobody recently. (II Cor. 12:11)

            C.        Not too long ago, he got into an argument with one of his co-workers when his co-worker made a mistake. It was one of those “in your face” kind of disputes. (Gal. 2:11)

            D.        Earlier he had another argument with a friend because a nephew of his ran out on him during a critical business deal. It got so bad, they broke up and went their separate ways. (Acts 15:39)

            E.        Overall, he doesn’t think much of himself. In fact, he is totally dependent on someone else to be effective (at least in his own mind) in his job. He defines himself by this other person (II Cor. 3:5)

            F.        Do you think this man has some problems with his self-esteem? What would you suggest that he do to improve himself?

            G.        What if I told you this man was the apostle Paul? Each statement I made was based on Paul’s own statements about himself.

II.        Many times we are taught things in this world that sounds reasonable. Often times we accept the principles without comparing them to the Scriptures

            A.        The idea of self-esteem arose with the women’s movement.

                        1.         The idea is that women have not advance themselves in the workplace as quickly as they could because of a poor self-image

                        2.         They don’t expect as much from themselves, so they don’t achieve as much.

            B.        What do you think self-esteem means?

                        1.         Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary : “1) A confidence and satisfaction in oneself : self-respect 2) Self-conceit”

                        2.         American Heritage Dictionary : “Pride in oneself; self-respect”

                        3.         Roget’s Thesaurus

                                    a.         “A sense of one’s own dignity or worth; pride, honor, ego, assertiveness, self-confidence, dignity, self-respect”

                                    b.         “An excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit, bigheadedness, egotism, superiority, self-admiration, self-adulation, self-love, self-regard, self-worship, vanity, self-importance”

                                    c.         It is the opposite of humility or modesty

            C.        Many facets of these definitions do not match the characteristics a Christian is striving for.

III.       Christians must cultivate a special view of themselves

            A.        We are weak

                        1.         If we look at what God wants us to do, it is easy to see that none of us are equal to the task - II Cor. 2:16

                        2.         We are not sufficient by ourselves - II Cor. 3:5

                        3.         We have no confidence in mankind - Phil. 3:3

                        4.         Without Jesus as our anchor, our stem, we can do nothing - John 15:5

                        5.         God admires the poor and contrite spirit - Isa. 66:2

            B.        Compared to others, we are unimportant

                        1.         Phil. 2:3 - Each is to esteem others as better than yourselves.

                        2.         I Thess 5:12-13 - Esteem elders and others who labor for God for their work’s sake.

                        3.         Count your bosses as worthy of honor, to make a good reflection on the word of God - I Tim. 6:1

            C.        The focus is on God and not ourselves - II Cor. 4:7

IV.      But this doesn’t mean Christians lack confidence

            A.        Our confidence does not come from our own abilities, but in the abilities of God.

                        1.         God is our confidence - Job 4:6

                        2.         God will keep us from stumbling - Prov. 3:26

                        3.         Eph. 3:12 - Through our faith, we have boldness and confidence in Him.

                        4.         Heb. 13:6 - We can say, with courage, the Lord is my helper.

            B.        The King of Assyria could not understand Hezekiah’s confidence - Isa. 36:4

                        1.         Hezekiah’s forces were hopelessly outnumbered

                        2.         Yet Hezekiah boldly defies this superior force.

                        3.         Hezekiah did not trust in himself. He did not trust in his men. He trusted in God

            C.        II Cor. 3:4 - The confidence that we have is through Christ to God.

                        1.         I John 3:21 - If we are faithful, we can have boldness toward God

V.        Where does your confidence lay? In your own abilities? Or in the might and power of your God?

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