Is it important that we feel good about ourselves? Is it crucial to our success or well-being that we have high self esteem?
If it is important that we feel good about ourselves, then you’d think the Bible would tell us and encourage us to pursue self-esteem, to make it our meditation and prayer. But nowhere does the Bible say we’re to pursue feeling happy about ourselves.
The Bible does talk about joy and gladness. However, it doesn’t say these originate in us.
The Bible locates joy in the Lord. It says that in his presence there is fullness of joy. Joy is a gift from him, and a result of salvation, a byproduct of knowing and serving him. There’s joy in worshiping and thanking him. But nowhere does the Bible tell us we’ll find joy in ourselves.
Scripture commands us to rejoice and be glad in the Lord – all that he is and all that he has done, not in our own accomplishments. Not to us, not to us, but to your name give glory. Jesus said when we’ve done everything he commands, we’re to say we’re unprofitable servants who only did what we were commanded. Like God when he created, we can look at what we’ve done and see that it is good, but we should thank God for any talents or abilities that he gave us to create.
When the Psalmist asks himself “Why are you cast down on my soul?” he doesn’t encourage himself to feel good about himself. No, he says, “Why are you cast down oh my soul? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him.”
When Paul describes the secret of contentment he’s learned, it’s not I have learned how to be happy with myself. Instead he says I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me. Paul never says I need to keep feeling better and better about myself, but says I want to know HIM and the power of his resurrection.
We are not to continually say to ourselves I’m good enough smart enough, and doggone it people like me. I deserve good things. I am a great person. If anything, we should say I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior. Paul claimed the title the worst of sinners – talk about poor self esteem – yet this sinner was one of the most joyful people around because he focused on Christ and his mercy toward him. Paul didn’t dwell on his own worth, but on Christ’s worth.
Neither did Paul dwell morosely on all his sins and failures, despite mentioning that he considered himself the chief of sinners. Paul dwelt on Christ’s mercy and grace. He focused on the fact that despite all his sins and failures, God justified him in Christ, and thus he was filled with joy.
We must ask the right questions.
Do I feel good about myself is not really even a biblical question. The right biblical questions are: Am I condemned for my sins or accepted in the Beloved? Am I guilty or am I justified? Am I conformed to the old man – my old sinful nature – or am I being conformed to the likeness of Christ? Am I rejected by God or welcomed by him through Jesus? Am I ungrateful for the place in life God has assigned me or do I believe he is working all things for my good? Do I fail to see and appreciate God’s mercies and blessings in my life or do thank him for them? Am I hoping in myself or my hoping in God?
Actually, we are most happy when we are not aware of ourselves. The happiest times in life are when we’re caught up in someone else – God. Caught up in doing something like playing an instrument or reading a book or painting a painting and not even aware of ourselves. When we’re caught up in serving God and others.
Let’s take our focus off ourselves today and focus on Christ. He’ll make sure we feel good about the right things.