Text: Romans 12:1-5
I. The concern for a person’s self-esteem continues to permeate the thoughts of our society.
A. It is not unusual for a concept to be argued for or against based on its supposed impact on a person’s self-esteem.
1. Spanking, giving grades, or even keeping score during a game is considered bad for the self-esteem of those who did not achieve well.
2. I once received a memo asking teachers not to use red ink when grading because red had negative connotations and might damage a person’s self-esteem.
3. James Dobson, in Dare to Discipline, said, “Self-esteem is the most fragile attribute in human nature; it can be damaged by a very minor incident and its reconstruction is often difficult to engineer.”
B. A good self-esteem, we are told, is a requirement for success in school, work, and marriages. Lack of self-esteem is the source of a person’s failures in life.
1. James Dobson, “The matter of personal worth is not only the concern of those who lack it. In a real sense, the health of an entire society depends on the ease with which its individual members can gain personal acceptance. Thus, whenever the keys to self-esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, as in twentieth-century America, then wide spread `mental illness,' neuroticism, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and social disorder will certainly occur ... Personal worth is not something human beings are free to take or leave. We must have it, and when it is unattainable, everybody suffers.”
C. Since the Bible contains everything pertaining to life (II Peter 1:3), we ought to be able to find teachings relative to a positive self-esteem.
D. What are we looking for?
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 sense of one’s own dignity or worth; pride, honor, ego, assertiveness, self-confidence, dignity, self-respect”
II. People with a Positive Self-Esteem
A. The king of Assyria - Isaiah 10:8-11
1. In today’s psychological mumbo-jumbo, we would say that the king has achieved “self-actualization.”
a. He felt very positive about his ability to accomplish his goals.
b. He had been successful and fully believed that he would continue to have success.
2. He wasn’t afraid of challenges because he was sure of his ability - Isaiah 10:13-14
3. Imagine if he lived today! People would praise his leadership, confidence, and success – or would they?
a. Are these not the words of an arrogant bully and a dictator with no restraint?
b. God condemned his attitude - Isaiah 10:12
c. He did not have a proper view of his position in the world - Isaiah 10:15
(1) He wasn’t a supreme conqueror
(2) He was only a tool in the hand of God
B. The king of Babylon - Isaiah 14:13-14
1. It would be hard to be more “positive” than this man - Daniel 4:30
2. He certainly wouldn’t have difficulties performing well at social functions because of his low view of himself.
3. But God said his next social appointment was with death - Isaiah 14:9-11
C. The king of Tyre - Ezekiel 28:2-5
1. Certainly his people didn’t have an indecisive leader because he thought too poorly of himself.
2. Perhaps if he was living today he would be holding expensive seminars instructing people on how to achieve the same level of self-awareness.
3. He might even be the founder of his own religion!
4. But despite his lofty view of himself, he was brought low - Ezekiel 28:7-10
D. The women of Israel
1. Dr. James Dobson, though he writes interesting material, claims women of America are afflicted because of their poor self-image. It is impacting their ability to be wives and mothers. In What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women, he said, “If I could write a prescription for the women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth (taken three times a day until the symptoms disappear). I have no doubt that this is their greatest need.”
2. Well women in Israel didn’t have that problem - Isaiah 3:16
3. It is just that the Lord did not share their opinion - Isaiah 3:24
E. A man of Israel - Luke 18:11-12
1. There was no danger of this man’s marriage failing because he had a low sense of self-worth.
2. Too bad he didn’t justify himself to God - Luke 18:14
III. What did it gain them?
A. All these people, and there are more in the Bible, were self-confident, self-actualized, and had great self-esteem. But they didn’t gain any lasting benefit from this attitude.
B. God opposes the proud - James 4:6-10
C. But what is the message that we are given?
1. “Be proud to be an American”
2. Teachers and parents boost children’s egos by telling them how proud they should be of their accomplishments
3. People are told to be proud of their heritage
4. Salesmen are told to be proud of their product
D. What is the message God gives? - Habakkuk 2:4
IV. Avoiding Pride
A. Paul foresaw the perilous times when people would be lovers of self - II Timothy 3:1-5
1. Notice that he warns that it is only a form of godliness
2. It looks good on the surface, but it isn’t
B. Low self esteem - Philippians 2:3
C. Pride causes discord - Proverbs 13:10; 28:25; I Timothy 6:3-4
1. What I want rarely matches what you want
2. But pride says my way is better
V. The Bible doesn’t teach people to develop a positive self-image
A. Instead, the Bible assumes everyone already has such an attitude - Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 5:28
1. Concern about ourselves is a part of our make up as human beings
B. Poor self-esteem is not the cause of the world’s woes
1. Drug abuse doesn’t come from poor self-esteem
a. The abuser isn’t doing it because he hates himself
b. He is seeking pleasure for himself or trying to escape from his problems
c. It is all about him. He doesn’t consider the impact he is making on other peoples’ lives.
2. Depression isn’t due to poor self-esteem
a. It is an attitude that
(1) We should have known better
(2) We don’t deserve what is happening to us
(3) Events are out of our control
b. The focus of the person’s thoughts is on himself: “Woe is me!”
C. We are not told to cut ourselves down, deny our abilities, any such thing - Romans 12:3
D. We are told to forget about ourselves
1. We are free from consuming thoughts about self
E. Instead we seek the glory of another - the Lord God - I Corinthians 5:14-15
F. It is no longer “I” who lives - Galatians 2:20