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 our 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!

Friends, 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! Have a wonderful weekend!

Johanna

 

Advertisements

Two Things We Can Boast in: Weakness and the Cross

It’s been quite a week since last Thursday. I have had several sleepless nights, I have had a mental war. I have worried. I have fretted. My digestive system has suffered. Why you ask? Fear!

I am going to crack open my heart and soul with you. I struggle with worrying too much about what other people think. I also simply take myself too seriously much of the time. I struggle with anxiety. I worry I am going to appear a failure.

My story this last week began when me and my students performed at a retirement home last Thursday. I got up to perform and well I basically fell flat on my face. I lost where I was in the music, got distracted by my thoughts and was overwhelmed with anxiety. You would have thought in my mind that the world came to an end. I did not externalize my feelings. I acted as if nothing happened, but the inner war was tremendous and for a week straight I worried and fretted over that. I assumed people’s thoughts. I was not thinking rational, and I even told myself that, but I was still tortured by it.

In my Psalm study I have been reading through Psalm 64, the first couple of times I read it, it didn’t resonate with me in any particular way, and then I felt compelled to read it again last night, and it jumped off the page and into my heart! The Psalmist in the beginning says, “deliver me from my fear” He didn’t say deliver me from the situation. This is what I was pleading with God, deliver me from this dread! The Psalmist sounded just like me tortured in his mind. He continues on to say “hide me from the secret plots of the wicked.” Now for him it was external enemy, but for me, I resonated with wanting to be hidden. I wanted to go hide. I felt humiliated. Then the Psalmist says, “they hold fast to their evil purpose” I just thought about how our enemy, satan, can use this as an opportunity to try to overcome us, discourage us, condemn us, ensnare us. This is a perfect opportunity for him to get a foothold on us. In verse 7, the Psalmist says, BUT GOD! I just stopped here, because really we needn’t go any further. Everything that preceded this is not the final analysis. GOD is the one who has the final say. God is my deliverer. It says in verse 10, “let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him. Let all the upright in heart exult.”

I was humbled by this situation. God allowed my to fall. God knows my struggle with perfection and people pleasing, and the only way for me to overcome it is through the fire. How can I expect to be refined and to grow to be more like Him if I don’t go through some discomfort. It really has been a thorn in my flesh. I have to learn that it isn’t about me and there is noting like going through something like this, to humble me.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Being a Christian does not mean perfection, or no struggles, and I think of the verse “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The word fear here is not anxiety but a reverence and respect for God’s authority, and trembling is admitting our weakness, and submitting to our dependence solely on God. This is an ongoing sanctification process to bring us into more of HIs likeness. To do this, God has to test and try our hearts. We have to be humbled, and this is not comfortable, but it must be done.

I have hanging in my hallway as a huge reminder from 2 Corinthians 12:9……..

“My grace is sufficient for you, for MY POWER is made perfect in weakness.”

We have nothing to boast in except our weakness and the cross. It is a truth that I am still learning every day. The layers of of my own self focus are being pulled back. God is gracious with me and he is gentle. I am being refined. I don’t want to remain the same. I want to be more like Him, but I have to be willing to go in the fire, be uncomfortable. I have to deny myself and take up my cross. I have to also remember this is a daily process. Every morning his mercies are new, and I have to come to the feet of Jesus to be renewed every day. Like the old hymn says…….

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting  of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Here’s my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

A final thought — You might have heard that joke/story about the kid who was in church listening to the sermon. The minister prayed, “Dear Lord without you we are but dust.” When the child heard this she leaned over  to mom and said, “Mommy, what is butt dust?”  haha!

I  was sent this joke by my childhood piano teacher and friend before she passed away this past February. We laughed so much about that.  She texted about a month before she died, and the text read simply, “We are SO butt dust!” 😛

Don’t take myself so seriously. Depend on him. Boast in my weakness. Boast in the Cross. I have to beware that just when I think I am something, I will find out pretty soon that I am nothing.

He’s still working on me! He began a good work in me, and he is for sure going to see it though to completion!

God gets the glory!

Blessings,

Johanna

I am Weak but He is Strong!

Oh, how weak we are. We try to pull our own weight struggling with this little nothing of muscle we have. We try and we fail again and again. What great relief it is to hear and acknowledge there is an Almighty power in charge of it all. He has the power to pull all the weight and never grow tired. It’s such a relief to just let myself be weak so that His strength can be shown perfect. Why fight it? We are fighting something we can’t conquer on our own. The world and society see weakness as a very different thing than God sees it. The world sees it as a stumbling block that keeps us from success, reputation or status. The biggest thing that keeps us from communion with God is pride and what feeds pride is our illusion of greatness and power. We are voluntarily blocking the One whose power can move mountains, can heal wounded hearts and who is omnipotent in every way. Nothing is impossible with God!
We need not be obsessed in the idea of equality. I find that this is becoming an idol in our post modern era. Jesus certainly didn’t come to provide equality for all. He humbled himself and became a servant, willingly obedient, motivated out of love. This glorifies God. See Philippians 2:6.
Jesus chose the way of weakness in love to save us. He humbled himself, and took on the sins of man. He was humiliated, mocked, beaten, cursed, and He did it as proof of His unfathomable love for us. Philip Yancey said in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, “Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering.(When we choose power in and of itself, It is destructive) Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.” In the Beatitudes Jesus clearly said the weak are blessed. Why? I would say because the moment we admit our weakness and renounce power is the moment His strength and power can increases opening up the floodgates of blessing and joy.
Love is the only answer to conquer evil. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Are we doing that? It will involve renouncing power for the sake of the other. The only way to trump and triumph over evil is to surrender in love, and as Jesus rose from the grave and conquered evil so does the lives of the people we touch through the work of the Spirit. They will rise up from this spiritually dead life and will be transformed into new life through Jesus!
As a Christian we are supposed to help heal the broken hearted in Jesus name. Are we not broken ourselves? How does the broken help the broken? This is where it all starts making sense. No one is perfect. Our hurts, injustices and disadvantages are used to bring Glory to God. Jesus is the link between one broken soul to another broken soul. If we pretend to have it all together we hinder the very power of the cross of Christ to break through and breathe new life!

STEP OUT IN FAITH – Take the news of the cross of Jesus to the ends of the earth even in weakness and always in love!

Where is the church going wrong?

I am having my struggles with “the church.”(The Christian church) I am searching scripture for truth and searching my heart for error. Take my words as a genuine outcry of concern that is burning within me.
These are my struggles. We are living in a post modern era where the views favor tolerance and political correctness above all else. Is this biblical and is this something Jesus would want us to do?
I see a sleeping church(“the church”) that is desensitized by sin and more absorbed by self and self-fulfillment.
Truth in love trumps tolerance and political correctness. How will any one really understand love and grace unless they are convicted and see how desperately wicked they are. I fear since we are so desensitized, it’s not clear enough to just gloss over and say “repent of your sins and be forgiven.” This phrase is doing nothing to convict hearts. Do we want false converts or do we want to see genuine transformed lives? Do we want to fill pews or do we want to do the will of God? I think more than ever people are making licenses and compromise to take pleasure in sin since “God is love and His grace abounds.” People want their cake and eat it too.
Are we afraid to tell the truth? Are we watering down the gospel to massage the intellect or to warm the heart? The gospel is good news no doubt, but I’m a firm believer that this good news is not much more than fluff and a “feel good” anecdote without the convicting realization of the bad news that precedes it.

Every day I am confronted with my own sinful nature whether it be with my struggles of pride or envy or just the moment that I let my tongue loose and say something that is not Christ-like. I know the motives of my own heart and that in itself makes me cry out for mercy even though I haven’t acted on it.

I sense a pride in “the church” that wants to be the one that is more right with God. This is across denominations. “Our church is packed and blessed so we must be doing it right.” “Our church may not have as many people so this is proof that we are doing something right, in the world not of the world right?” “Our church is more doctrinally sound, this pleases God more.” “Our church is not as stiff so it must be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
I could go on and on. What is all this doing but being a dividing force.
I believe the enemy works really hard to keep “the church” bickering and arguing over who is more right with God and who has really screwed up. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make judgments on the church when by scripture we are compelled to. If I meant that, then what I’m writing would be a contradiction. I am, however, convinced that pride is a very real thing in our hearts and it’s presence is not exempt behind church walls.
I see division more and more politically, culturally, and I see it among “the church”.
I believe we need to test our motivations of judgment within the church. Does my judgment do anything to further the advancement of the kingdom? Is my judgment within the will of God? Or does my judgment stroke my ego or elevate me? When I say “me” I also mean the church. Does this elevate God or does it elevate a denomination?

I close with this. Truth is not in any one denomination, truth is in Jesus. If we are motivated to lift up Jesus then He will be lifted up. If we are motivated by pride and ego to elevate “the church” God help us.

I’m so deeply concerned by this, Lord help me to lift you up.

Any comments or thoughts on this subject are most welcome.