This is Part 3 of the series titled, “Self-Esteem: A Well Groomed Lie.” In part one we went over the definition of self-esteem and covered the first three points of the definition in contrast to God’s word. In part two we finished the final point of self-esteem and I told you a story about Mrs. Thirsty. I ended by saying that self-esteem is a clever way of disguising sinful and destructive pride. If you missed the first two parts of this series, please go back and listen to them before you listen to this concluding part.
What Self-Esteem Really Means
Let’s summarize the definition of self-esteem again since we are going to address the sin connected with it.
Self-esteem is the idea that I am able to competently deal with the challenges of life and that I think it is natural for me deserve success, achievement, fulfillment, and happiness. The simple way of defining self-esteem is thinking I am awesome at dealing with life, and I deserve all the good things coming to me.
Now let’s take a look at the first and most basic definition of “pride” according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary.
“Pride is a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by others.”
You see what I did there? Pride and self-esteem have the same basic meaning. I am tempted to go off on a rant about the ambiguity of the English language and how we use the word pride to mean different things. When your child does something well, you say you are “proud” of them, but that isn’t the same kind of pride we are talking about. But I will refrain from my rant and simply say that the word pride in the bible is never in reference to feeling joy on the behalf of others, the way we use it in English.
What The Bible Says About Pride
When pride is mentioned in the bible, it is always in reference to respecting yourself, and is used alongside of words like haughty and wicked when talking about individuals. The same word is also used in Hebrew to denote God’s majesty and splendor, but it is not used in this way towards the individual person (aside from God). If we look through the book of Proverbs we can get an accurate idea about God’s feelings toward pride:
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” Proverbs 8:13
“Where pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
“By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10
“In the mouth of the fool is a rod of pride. but the lips of the wise will preserve them.” Proverbs 14:3
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
“A proud and haughty man – “Scoffer” is his name; He acts with arrogant pride.” Proverbs 21:24
“A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 29:23
You get the idea, pride is bad, sinful, evil behavior, and it is in stark contrast to wisdom, humility, and honor.
I Feel Like I’m Going To Throw Up
I’m going to tell you straight out, when God finally opened my eyes to the fact that my “low self-esteem” was a clever device satan used to blind me to my own pride I was shocked. I remember feeling sick to my stomach. But the word of God tells us straight out that pride is deceptive, “The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me to the ground?’” (Obadiah 1:3). When we operate out of the pridefulness of self-esteem we place ourself on the high places, believing that no one else can determine how good or bad we are. That no one else can determine our worth. We saw in Proverbs that one of the swiftest paths to destructions is through pride. That is why satan has been so clever to disguise pride with the concept of self-esteem.
But that isn’t the end of this story. You may be thinking, well what good thing can replace the evil concept of prideful self-esteem in my life? God is so much more clever than satan!! He has laid everything out for us so that we don’t need pride or self-esteem. Our worth comes from Him, and Him alone. One of the reasons I fell so fast and easily into the trap of low self-esteem is because I didn’t understand that God is the One that has already determined my worth. I am valuable to Him, the King of the Universe! This is one of the reasons that so many Christian women cling to the title, “Daughter of the King.” Their value comes from the fact that they are loved and created by the King. What a great place to cling! Through those words, we are acknowledging that we need the cross of Jesus Christ! But please, don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the words written to us straight from our Heavenly Father…
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27
We are created in the image of God Himself!! That is valuable, isn’t it? Don’t you value the image of God? Well guess what? You are made in it!
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God made us carefully and thoughtfully, and God doesn’t make mistakes! God loves you so much that He took the time to make you according to His will. Not only that, we were created for Him,
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
That means you!! You beautiful daughter of God!!
And God is all about real beauty. We see that specifically in reference to women in 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – Rather, let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentile and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
I’m going to do a whole series on body image, because it is something I have personally death with and I know that many of you have dealt with it too, but right now I just want to say don’t overcomplicate God’s word. It says what it says, and it means what it says! God created you and He loves you. He made you for His purposes, and one of those purposes is to spend time with you! He wants to be with you!
Break Free From The Bondage Of Sin
I know this whole war path on self-esteem will be looked at poorly by the world, but I have to tell you that self-esteem is a cheap and destructive path to hell that is so pathetic when compared to living with the knowledge of God’s creative and redemptive purposes for creating you.
God loves you, and that is where your real and lasting worth comes from!
I know for me, the bible has helped me to see God’s truth clearly, and not have the lie of self-esteem hanging over my head. We need to pray that God would set us free from the sin of pride that disguises itself as low self-esteem. During counseling recently, I have seen other individuals struggling with this very sin. Someone told them they weren’t good enough, or that they were worthless, when they were younger and they have been carrying this around with them ever since. They have been dealing with the pride of low self-esteem. I really believe that God wants to deliver all of us from the bondage of this sin so that we would be more effective for His Kingdom and His purposes. Remember, God loves us! He made us! His opinion is the one that actually matters.
Thank You for Your word and how it is full of wisdom and truth! Thank You for using it as a love letter to us to let us know that You created us in Your image and You love us. Thank You that you want to create an incorruptible beauty inside of us that will be everlasting, unlike the beauty that is outward, which will pass away some day. Guard our hearts against pride, Father. Help us to be humble and to seek wisdom from Your word, and from other believers You have placed in our lives. God, You are so good!! You are so loving!! You amaze me, Father! Please help my sisters and I to chase hard after You in all we say and do. Deliver us from the pride of low self-esteem. Thank You, Lord. We praise Your Holy name!!
In Jesus’ name,
The next series will begin next week and is called, “The Basics” where we will go through the very essential principals of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the meantime, God bless you!