A Healthy Respect for Low Self-Esteem
The world is designed to increase a person’s self-esteem. As with most worldly endeavors, this is wrought with confusion and a double-minded agenda, “Congratulations on your first place finish and gold medal, Johnny — you are the winner!” The ceremony master then turns to all the rest of the participants, “And every one of you is a winner, too!”
Competition is a product of a sinful world (Eccl 4:4). It rewards performance and builds self-esteem. The winner gets a chicken dinner, but then we worry about the losers, “Maybe Billy has a weapons cache…let’s give him a chicken dinner, too!”
We live in an unstable world that desperately wants a champion for this and champions for that, and yet, we are afraid of anyone left behind.
In theology, which is our understanding of God from the revelation of Himself in the Bible, there are clearly winners and losers. To gain perspective and lower everyone’s self-esteem, we need to understand that Jesus Christ is the one and only winner. Everyone else is a loser…everyone.
Self-esteem is sin. It is the promotion of losers onto the podium of the sole winner. It is the promulgation of pride for non-performance. Man thinks more highly of himself than He ought to, and this is true in absolutely every category of effort. Doctors think they are gods. Athletes think they are gods. Politicians think they are gods, and so do business people, soldiers, intellectuals, etc. Tricked by the devil, people believe they, too, can become gods (Gen 3:5).
Jesus is God.
Coming to grips with one’s low status seems self-defeating, and this is actually, very good. We must self-defeat ourselves. The Bible says we must crucify our flesh and die to self.
The agony of self-defeat is too much for the puffed up professor who presses on in his course of pride and achievement. His end is death, but he will keep competing until the end. Pundits of self-esteem will cheer him on, and even posthumously lavish praise, honor, and accolades upon him. He will live in infamy on the statistical leader board. His name will be remembered above every other name.
In contrast, there is the child of God, who receives the grace of God for self-defeat, leading to low self-esteem. It hardly sounds glamorous and rightly so…peculiar, at best. When Christ Jesus is given glory for every performance, then comes the strange effect…liberty.
When Christ alone is acknowledged, it silences the pompous press conference. When Christ is rightly revered, believers rejoice. When Christ is exalted to the highest place in our praise, we are set free from the tyranny of human performance.
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness (Rom 4:5), and whosoever believes in Him shall not perish (Jn 3:16), and this is the work of God…that you believe on Him whom He has sent (Jn 6:29). It is God who leads us in Christ’s triumph (2 Cor 2:14), and the evidence of our victory in Him, is the faith He has worked in us (1 Jn 5:4). We trust Christ, not ourselves, nor anyone else. Our boast is in Christ, alone (1 Cor 1:31).
The victory of self-defeat, accomplished by the grace of God, is glorious because it magnifies God’s esteem, while lowering our esteem. Christian, your participation medal is joy. Christ has the victory and made you a member of the team. The game was over, so you could contribute nothing anyway, but He chose you to share in His glory, which was His plan from the beginning.
It is the pinnacle of arrogance for a man to think he can choose for himself to be in Christ’s victorious parade. Men will boast in their wise decision to put on the victor’s logo and colors, but “we are the champions” is not His victory song, my friends… it is, “O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.”
To deny Christ is self-esteem, but to revel in Him is the glorious defeat of all-esteem in the way of victorious life. Enjoy the parade.
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 1, 2022