Posted by: reformbama | January 26, 2013

Self-Esteem – The Lie

Most theologians will tell you that self-esteem is not a biblical term.  In the last century, the word has become a semi-technical term in psychology, with different researchers giving the term slightly different nuances.  The word self-esteem has been in our language for quite some time but in the past few generations our society has become engrossed with this thing called self-esteem.  We are told to build it in our children and that by having a high level of it one can increase their chances of having a happy and prosperous life.  Interesting enough; even within psychological circles, as engrossed as we are as a society with self-esteem, nailing down a global definition is not easy.


Several lofty definitions exist but we will use the layman’s definition of “how one sees or feels about themselves over time.”  There are several causes of what is termed low self-esteem.  We can’t possible go through each and every cause but we will hit a few before we move on:


  • False humility.  Purposely diminishing my worthiness in order to get other people to praise me.  This is akin to fishing for compliments.  The Bible mentions humility in terms of “true” or “false” because many were and are confused as to the real meaning of humility. Some think they are humble if they think badly of themselves, when in reality that is a form of false humility.
  • Fear of man.  We only fear those who we believe to be greater than us and we may begin to compare ourselves to them.  When we have this fear of man or if we care too much about what man says then we put ourselves in a position to choose between what God says and what man says.
  • Guilt.  The Bible makes a distinction between two kinds of guilt: true guilt and false guilt. Worldly sorrow causes us to focus on ourselves, while godly sorrow leads us to focus on the person or persons we have offended.  The results of worldly and godly sorrow differ. Worldly sorrow results in temporary change. Godly sorrow results in true change and growth.
  • Condemnation.  There are times when our pasts weigh heavy on us.  We think too often about things in our past that we believe disqualifies us for worthiness not just in the sight of God but in the sight of man.  Another way of saying this is having a critical spirit.  Now we most associate this with people toward other people but often those same people have the same critical spirit towards themselves.
  • Shame.  In the garden after Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; God sought them out.  In this account we see how our sin can cause shame.  Shame over sin should lead to repentance not a low opinion of one’s self.

As I mentioned before this is by no means an exhaustive list but it gives us an idea of the sources of low self-esteem.  People who have bought into the lie of self-esteem are heavily vested in it.  Some have settled into their way of life and are not really looking to change.  Oh yes, they talk about it but a true desire to change does not exist.


People who are caught in the lie of low self-esteem can be financially and emotionally draining to everyone around them; because they only deal with the symptoms and never the cause.  People with low self-esteem usually make half-hearted attempts if they attempt at all.  They will tell you that they are doing everything that they can or everything within their power but how many know that is their biggest mistake.

More later

One other thing. We are not worthy, only Christ is.


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