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Sabbath School Lessons on The Bible and Human Emotions
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 38 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- Creation and Self-Esteem
- Read Psalms 100:3-4. What in this text should give us
cause for pride? (That God made us and "we are His
- 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!)
- How does calling us "sheep" affect your sense of
- Who is being praised in these texts: God or humans?
- 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.)
- Does contemplating our origins help us to
distinguish between pride and self-esteem?
- Could we say that self-esteem comes from our
relationship to God? Pride comes from what we
claim for ourselves?
- The Church and Self-Esteem
- 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
- 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?"
- What about a choice between a kidney and a
- 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
- Does this text suggest that some should have less
self-esteem? (Imagine that!)
- 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
- 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.)
- To what degree does the "pattern of this world"
contribute to self-esteem issues?
- Personal Responsibility and Self-Esteem
- Read Romans 12:6. Name some of the causes for pride?
(Intelligence, beauty, money, position, power, and
- What does the Bible call our abilities? (Gifts.)
- 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.)
- How does Romans 12:6 view these things? (Not only
does it call our abilities "gifts," but they come by
the grace of God.)
- Notice that prophesying depends upon the
measure of a person's faith. Have we any
control over the amount of our faith?
- Read Matthew 17:14-16. How would you rate the self-esteem of the disciples at this point?
- Read Matthew 17:17-18. Was Jesus commenting about His
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- Read Ephesians 4:22. What is wrong with our old self? (It
is "corrupted by its deceitful desires.")
- 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
- What are some of the causes for low self-esteem?
- Can any of these be addressed by carefully
considering our desires in life and deciding
whether they are foolish?
- Read Ephesians 4:23-24. What opportunity awaits us? (We
can put away our old self and take on a new self with a
- How is our old self different from our new self?
(The desire of our new self is for righteousness and
- Self-Esteem Stories
- 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.")
- 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.)
- Read Matthew 13:44. What does this teach us about how we
should esteem being a part of God's people?
- 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?
- 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.)
- What would it do for the proud? (The Kingdom of God
is more important than anything else.)
- 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
- 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.