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Lesson 9: Self-Esteem *

Introduction: God says, "whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure." Psalms 101:5. Worse, when Proverbs lists the six things God detests, guess what is listed first? "Haughty eyes!" Proverbs 6:17. On the other hand, Romans 2:7 endorses "glory, honor and peace" for everyone who does good. How should self-esteem and humility live together? Can they? Is self-esteem just another term for pride? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. Creation and Self-Esteem

    1. Read Psalms 100:3-4. What in this text should give us cause for pride? (That God made us and "we are His people.")

      1. Do people normally feel a sense of pride or lack of pride based on their father or mother? (Yes. Your father is the King of Kings!)

      2. How does calling us "sheep" affect your sense of pride?

      3. Who is being praised in these texts: God or humans? (God!)

    2. There are two great and diametrically opposed views for how humans came to exist. One view (the view explicitly taught by the Bible) is that humans were personally created by God. The other view (science's current view) is that humans evolved from nothing. Which view would create more self-esteem in humans? (The answer is not obvious. Evolution eliminates the need to acknowledge any God. Humans are better now than ever, and they are the best of all that exists. Although Creationists know that God is their Father, they have fallen into sin and know that their situation is hopeless without God.)

      1. Does contemplating our origins help us to distinguish between pride and self-esteem?

        1. Could we say that self-esteem comes from our relationship to God? Pride comes from what we claim for ourselves?

  2. The Church and Self-Esteem

    1. Read Romans 12:4-8. What does the model of God's church teach us about self-esteem and pride? (The Bible compares our relative worth to members of our body. We value all parts of our body. Therefore, since the Bible teaches us that we are like parts of our body, we all have intrinsic worth.)

      1. Do you value all of the members of your body equally? For example, if you had to choose between losing a foot or a hand, which would you choose? Would you say, "I don't care, someone else decide?"

        1. What about a choice between a kidney and a heart?

    2. Read Romans 12:3. Notice that this introduces the verses that we just read. What warning are we given? Is it a warning against a lack of self-esteem or a warning against pride?

      1. Does this text suggest that some should have less self-esteem? (Imagine that!)

    3. Let's go back and consider the context of the verses we just discussed. Read Romans 12:1-2. What do you think is the cause of low self-esteem? (I don't know about the rest of the world, but Americans engage in a tremendous amount of "navel gazing" (looking at our self, worrying about our self, considering our personal welfare). We generally compare how we are doing with how others are doing.)

      1. What does Romans 12:1-2 suggest is a cure for navel gazing? (First, consider yourself a sacrifice for the good of others. If our goal in life is to help others, to live sacrificially, we will be a lot less concerned about ourselves, our "esteem." Second, we are told not to conform to the world, but to let the Holy Spirit give us the right attitude. The next verses then speak about service to others.)

        1. To what degree does the "pattern of this world" contribute to self-esteem issues?

  3. Personal Responsibility and Self-Esteem

    1. Read Romans 12:6. Name some of the causes for pride? (Intelligence, beauty, money, position, power, and family.)

      1. What does the Bible call our abilities? (Gifts.)

      2. Is this true for intelligence, beauty, money, position, and family? (Yes. Money and position are more debatable, but our other gifts help us gain money and position.)

      3. How does Romans 12:6 view these things? (Not only does it call our abilities "gifts," but they come by the grace of God.)

        1. Notice that prophesying depends upon the measure of a person's faith. Have we any control over the amount of our faith?

    2. Read Matthew 17:14-16. How would you rate the self-esteem of the disciples at this point?

    3. Read Matthew 17:17-18. Was Jesus commenting about His disciples' faith?

    4. Read Matthew 17:19-20. Is faith a choice or a gift? (Jesus indicated that the disciples have a great deal to do with the level of their faith.)

    5. Let's trace our thoughts: our self-esteem is often based on things like intelligence, good-looks, money, position, power and family. These are, to one degree or another, gifts. We cannot take responsibility for them. However, the power of the gifts we possess turns on the measure of our faith, for which we can take responsibility.

      1. What does that teach us about self-esteem? (We should not feel badly about gifts we are not given. However, for gifts that we are given we have a responsibility to, by faith, increase them and use them for the benefit of others.)

    6. Read Ephesians 4:22. What is wrong with our old self? (It is "corrupted by its deceitful desires.")

      1. If I were writing this verse, I would say "corrupted by sin." But, this seems to say something quite different. What is a deceitful desire? (A goal in life that is not worth while. A desire that has fooled you.)

        1. What are some of the causes for low self-esteem?

        2. Can any of these be addressed by carefully considering our desires in life and deciding whether they are foolish?

    7. Read Ephesians 4:23-24. What opportunity awaits us? (We can put away our old self and take on a new self with a new attitude.)

      1. How is our old self different from our new self? (The desire of our new self is for righteousness and holiness.)

  4. Self-Esteem Stories

    1. Read Luke 15:3-7. What does this teach us about how God esteems us? (Each person is important to God. God does not view any of us as an "acceptable loss.")

      1. How is this picture of God's love for us understated? (Jesus did not just inconvenience Himself to pursue us, He died a very painful death for us. He went through hell on earth for us.)

    2. Read Matthew 13:44. What does this teach us about how we should esteem being a part of God's people?

    3. If someone possessed the attitude described in the two previous texts (God puts a premium on each one of us and we value the kingdom above all other things), would this cure all "esteem" issues?

      1. What would it do for those who lack self-esteem? (The question of your value is settled. If your chief object is to advance the kingdom of God, you are not thinking about yourself.)

      2. What would it do for the proud? (The Kingdom of God is more important than anything else.)

    4. Friend, if you suffer from a lack of self-esteem, know that God created you and considers you to be of great importance. Once that is settled in your mind, stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about how you can advance God's Kingdom. Will you agree to do that right now?

  5. Next week: Jealousy.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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