High Self Esteem, Low Self-Esteem or Neither?

High self-esteem, low self-esteem or neither?  Our society says if a person is feeling bad about themselves all the time, talking down to themselves, insecure; they just need higher self esteem. If a person is too full of themselves, well they need a dose of humiliation .

One of my favorite little books that I always go back to is, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. This is a 4 chapter book that is so good. He basically shows that the Bible clearly doesn’t talk about any kind of self-esteem, but instead gospel humility.

C.S. Lewis says,

“Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.”

Humility is not self-condemnation. We must love ourselves, and we are instructed by Jesus to  “love your neighbor, AS YOURSELF.”

I see it like this when we view ourselves through the lens of a Christian worldview we are who we are by the grace of God. All of our strengths, all of our gifts, every breath that we take, it’s all by the grace of God. If we keep that in view we won’t go down the slippery slope that might lead to pride. Pride makes its way in when we try to do things apart from God.

John 15:5 says,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Pride is really just a puffed up ego. We all have one, now the thing about our egos,  we aren’t supposed to draw attention to it. Tim Keller points out, our ego is a part of our body, but say for instance our elbow, we don’t think about our elbow and how it works it just does its job, but when its hurt, all the sudden we are paying attention to our elbow. Same for our ego, when we have a hurt ego, we might over compensate and puff it up.

The opposite of pride is self-condemnation which is a form of pride it’s just inverted. Another thing we might do if our ego is hurt is to belittle ourselves, walk around talking bad about ourselves, this is just a deflated ego. It’s flat and bent out of shape, again drawing attention to itself.

The Bible gives us the proper view we should have about ourselves, and its gospel humility. C.S. Lewis said about meeting a truly humble person…

“To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

So what is this gospel humility?

The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:3

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.”

Bottom line,  get out of the courtroom! Jesus went into the courtroom for us. We are acquitted. It’s finished! Court’s adjourned! We don’t need to judge ourselves. Jesus took our sentence on the cross, and now we can be set free. No more high self-esteem or low self esteem, just living free in Him. We don’t have to live in that bondage.

Now I am not an expert at this, and when I get on the low self train, and my ego is all bruised, and I am walking myself back into the courtroom, I have to remind myself, GET OUT OF THERE! YOU DON’T BELONG THERE!

I hope you know you don’t belong there either, if you already know the freedom that comes through Jesus then cling to it, and if you don’t know, he is knocking at your door, just open it and let him in.

Blessings to you all!


7 Replies to “High Self Esteem, Low Self-Esteem or Neither?”

  1. This was good!! It has been so long since I read this verse in 1 Cor 4:3…I am going to tattoo that on my forehead and stare at myself in the mirror next time I buy a ticket on the self hate train. Love this! And I’ve thought the same thing…we have no reason judging ourselves. We already had all of that paid for, by Jesus, on the cross. We are nullifying part of the cross and Jesus’ redemptive work (and also how we are image bearers of God) when we talk bad about ourselves.

    I took a big swing from pride to self-condemnation. I used to be pretty prideful way back in the day. I probably still have a few strains of it around today too. Both are wicked. I don’t want to live my life with high self esteem. I don’t. Instead I want to live as you said here, I want to be so melted into Jesus that honestly, it’s not me doing anything anyway, it’s all Jesus. I don’t want the credit, I don’t want the glory, Jesus can have it all. If I just get to spend my whole day in his arms, I’m good. Take it all. Not saying I will always be like that, but I definitely desire to have that in my life at all times!! Great post! Hope you’re having a wonderful Thursday! (Almost time for the weekend!!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! Yes a tattoo for me too!
      Its a great reminder-that verse. I agree with you about just wanting it to be all about Jesus. I desire that too. And then my ugly ego rears its head on occasion. God knows. And he is in the refinement business. We are being sanctified. He’s working on us. Isn’t that soooo cool!
      Have an awesome and restful weekend!
      Thank you for the edifying words! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Johanna, and a great reminder to us all. We so easily forget that it’s all been paid for by Jesus. It is way too easy to slide into the performance trap. I sometimes wonder how many times the Apostle Paul had to remind himself that all his former sins against Christians were paid for too. If he could do it, then so can we! Hugs, friend. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Debbie! It is so easy to forget, I guess that why we have to stay in prayer and the word.
      Yes I can’t wait to have a long conversation with the Apostle Paul. 😉
      Hugs to you Debbie!

      Liked by 1 person

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