Today's message (adapted from the Biblical Counseling Self-Confrontation Course, Lesson 9, page 4.) will challenge some popular but unbiblical viewpoints about self-worth and self-love, often propagated even within some church circles. We will explore these viewpoints in light of the Scripture, discerning the truth that God has revealed to us.
Introduction: Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we gather today to seek wisdom and clarity on a topic that is both timely and timeless – the understanding of 'self' in the light of God's Word. In today's world, where the emphasis on self-love, self-worth, and self-esteem is ever-increasing, it is crucial that we, as followers of Christ, align our perspectives with the teachings of the Bible, not the fluctuating standards of society.
Point 1: Loving Others Before Ourselves
Worldly View: You have to love yourself before loving others.
Biblical Truth: John 15:12-13 and Ist John 4:7-8 remind us that true love, the love of Christ exemplified, is selfless and sacrificial. Our capacity to love others does not begin with self-love but manifests God's love in us.
Point 2: Worthiness of Grace
Worldly View: Our creation in God's image makes us inherently worthy of His grace.
Biblical Truth: While being made in God's image is a profound truth, Romans 5:8 and I Corinthians 1:26-31 highlight that our worthiness of grace is not inherent but is a gift from God, bestowed despite our unworthiness.
Point 3: Self-Esteem and Spiritual Growth
Worldly View: High self-esteem is necessary for problem-solving, effective relationships, and spiritual growth.
Biblical Truth: II Corinthians 3:5-6, Philippians 4:13, and James 4:6 teach us that our adequacy and strength come from God, not our self-esteem. It is in our weakness that His strength is made perfect.
Point 4: The Fallacy of the Need for Self-Worth
Worldly View: The need for self-worth is the greatest human need.
Biblical Truth: Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Luke 17:10 redirect our focus from self-worth to the worthiness of knowing and glorifying God, serving Him humbly and gratefully.
Point 5: Positive Thinking Versus Dependence on Christ
Worldly View: Positive thinking about oneself is essential for significant accomplishments.
Biblical Truth: John 15:4-5 and Philippians 3:7-14 emphasize our dependence on Christ for all things. Our achievements are not the products of positive self-image but of abiding in Him.
Point 6: The Necessity of Preaching the Whole Gospel
Worldly View: We should focus only on building up people, avoiding topics like sin and hell.
Biblical Truth: Ezekiel 33:8-9 and Luke 3:7, 12:5 remind us of the responsibility to preach the whole Gospel, including repentance and the reality of sin and its consequences.
Point 7: Forgiving Oneself and Understanding the Cross
Worldly View: Forgiving oneself is essential for peace and fulfillment.
Biblical Truth: John 16:33 and I Corinthians 1:18-21, 2:14, Colossians 2:8-14 teach that our peace and fulfillment come from understanding and accepting Christ's forgiveness, not forgiving ourselves.
Point 8: Self-Esteem of Jesus
Worldly View: Jesus had the most excellent self-esteem in history.
Biblical Truth: Philippians 2:3-8 reveals that Jesus exemplified humility and selflessness, contrary to high self-esteem.
Point 9: The True Meaning of Being Born Again
Worldly View: Being born again is about transforming from a negative to a positive self-image.
Biblical Truth: John 3:3-8 and I Peter 1:23 show that being born again is a spiritual transformation, a rebirth from above, not a mere change in self-perception.
Conclusion: Dear brethren, as we have explored these points, it becomes evident that the Biblical perspective on 'self' radically differs from the world's view. Our identity, worth, and purpose are found not in self-love or self-esteem but in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, seek to align our understanding of 'self' with the truth of Scripture, for in doing so, we find true freedom, peace, and fulfillment in Christ.