Self-esteem became a buzz word a number of years ago. Most people have a low self-esteem, and it needs to be boosted. Even people who appear as boastful are actually hiding their low self-esteem. Sometimes depression is attributed to low self-esteem. From there, many of us went on a hunt for a better self-esteem to cure our sadness and heighten our confidence.
I was among those who wanted a higher self-esteem. I tried to root my confidence in my writing, my horseback riding, my body image, my goodness, and my intelligence. But in my striving, I learned that the pursuit of self-esteem is a tiring and disappointing one. Self-esteem roots you in lies and shades your eyes from the truth—where your true confidence should be.
The Lie of Self-Esteem
Though self-esteem may be preached by our culture, the concept is not in the Bible. God never calls us to believe in ourselves, love ourselves, trust in ourselves, or have confidence in ourselves. On the contrary, the Bible says our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), that we are sinful (Romans 3:23), and we should not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Though self-esteem promises happiness, it can only lead to disappointment if we are putting our trust and confidence in ourselves. We will fail, we will fall, we will sin, we will make poor choices, we will be foolish, we will be weak, and we will not be able to do everything we set our minds to. If we put our confidence in that, we will be disheartened. We will never reach perfection on this earth. If our confidence is in our own ability to do well and succeed, it will eventually be thwarted.
Lasting Confidence in Christ
Lasting and sure confidence can only come from Christ—who is eternal, all-powerful, all-wise, perfect, and never failing. He’s the only One we can fully depend on and never be disappointed in. Confidence in Christ never fails because he never fails. When we place our confidence in him, it will not waiver.
This confidence begins when we are saved. When we first heard the gospel, it brought us to our knees in utter humility. The gospel tells us that we are incapable of saving ourselves because we are too deep in sin. In our sinful hearts, we despised God and his laws. Though he was our Creator and Ruler, we turned our backs and scoffed at him. We loved our sin too much to even consider loving him.
But God, rich in mercy, didn’t give us the hell we deserved. He sent his Son to die on the cross and bear his wrath for our disobedience—even though he was perfect. Then on the third day, he rose again to new life, paving the way for us to resurrect to eternal life.
Self-esteem says we are good enough on our own to earn salvation. Just be a good person, and God will let you into heaven. But the gospel says, your “good deeds” are filthy rags. Only Christ can save you. Our confidence in Christ and lack of confidence in ourselves begins when we believe the gospel, and should continue from there in our daily obedience.
Finding Value in Eternal Truths
Another lie self-esteem proclaims is to find value in ourselves based earthly or temporary things such as our skills, successes, victories, jobs, and the like. But God has given us a greater identity.
I am loved by God.
Every believer is loved by God beyond measure. He loves us with a love no human could ever give you. He loves you perfectly, infinitely, sacrificially.
1 John 4:10,“And this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
A.W. Pink writes in his Attributes of God,
“God’s love to His people is not of yesterday. It did not begin with their love to Him. No, ‘we love Him, because He first loved us’ (I John 4:19). We do not first give to Him, that He may return to us again. Our regeneration is not the motive of His love, rather His love is the reason why He renews us after His image. This is often made to appear in the first manifestation of it, when so far from its objects being engaged in seeking Him, they are at their worst.”
I am made in God’s image.
Each person on this earth is made in God’s image. When God created man he said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26). And then later on Genesis 9:5-6, God declares murder as sinful because we are made in God’s image. You have value because you are an image-bearer.
I am a child of God.
All believers are declared to be God’s children. He has adopted you into his family, and he will never disown you.
Ephesians 1:4c-6,“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
I am righteous through Christ’s righteousness.
You are not righteous because you have earned that status. You are declared righteous by God because you bear Christ’s righteousness. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Friend, stop finding your worth in vain things of this world or temporary things that come from yourself. Root your confidence in Christ alone, who never fails, and your value in the eternal truths of God’s Word.