Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why Self-Esteem Is A Misconception

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
A common misconception exists among many people, including Christians.
It comes in the form of encouraging, uplifting, warm 'n fuzzy statements about who we are by nature:

"We are all basically good people."
"You are not a failure!"
"If you believe in yourself, you can do it."

As difficult as it is to hear the truth about ourselves, we must: by nature, we are not good people! Ephesians 2:3 says that we are "by nature children of wrath". As I sit here typing this, even I struggle with the weight of this reality. It cuts deeply into my heart.

The sin nature we battle with daily is a truth frequently (and conveniently) left out of today's messages--even those directed at Christians, by Christians. Talking about our failings and our desperate need runs counter to the autonomous nature within us, which desires to rule. The mere mention of it makes us uncomfortable and, at times, even downright offended.

We must be wary of this common misconception that we can somehow belittle and lessen our sin to boost our self-esteem, making ourselves feel better.

The terrifying truth is that the gospel loses its potential to transform our lives when we neglect the very reason for it: we are sinful and broken, and we need a Savior.

In reading Psalm 24 the other morning, the state of our desperation hit me like a ton of bricks. What does it take to come before the Lord, in all His fullness? Just read with me, and you'll see what I mean:

1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.

Clean hands and a pure heart? Perfect worship? Truth and righteousness? Man alive, if these are the requirements for ascending the hill of the Lord, then I will never stand before Him! And neither will you. The truth is, within ourselves we simply cannot do anything remotely right or true--let alone approach the holy God of the universe.

The misconception that people are generally good, that we can find fullness within ourselves, falls flat on its face before the perfect holiness of our God. His perfection is our standard. And we have fallen far below it.

So what can we do?

Here comes the good news: There is someone else who actually has clean hands and a pure heart, who lifts up His soul to the truth, and who pursues righteousness. Jesus Christ was the only person who lived the perfect life, and He is able to stand before the Father because He never sinned.

The good news is that, on the cross, Jesus exchanged His perfect righteousness for our sinfulness. Exchanged. Meaning that He took our filth and bestowed on us His purity. He took our record "guilty as charged" and bestowed on us His clean record.

In the sight of God, it was as if we had never sinned.

Can I get an amen? All because of Christ's death and resurrection, we are able to stand before the perfect Father. We can approach the throne of grace with boldness and confidence. We will live forever in eternity with God!

So what truth from God's Word should we take away with us today? Sisters, our failings, our sinfulness and our desperate need are realities we need to acknowledge, not deny in a self-gratifying attempt to make ourselves feel better. We need not succumb to the misconception that we can conveniently glaze over the darkness of our souls. It is not helpful to do so.

Denial leads to suffering for those who do not know Christ; and for those who do know Him, it leads to stagnancy of faith.

We need the gospel in all its fullness--including the messy, sinful beginnings--if we want to be truly changed by Christ, conformed to His image. We cannot know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings if we continually brush over our need for a Savior.

There is true, eternal power at work in the admittance of our need for Christ--which does not come from ourselves, but from Him who provides perfect strength in our weaknesses. His grace is sufficient!

Let us be women who boldly, unashamedly confront the misconception of self-esteem and expose it for what it really is. Let us share the gospel by our very lives, and pray that many more come to know Christ as Savior!

Jesus, You alone make it possible to know the Father. Your grace is a miracle, and we are so thankful. We admit that we are broken without You, that we can do nothing apart from You. Help us to see the extent of our sin, to repent of it, so that we may know in fullness Your power and perfection! Help us to live as women united to You.

Amen.

Complete these statements, and share with us in the comments: 
Jesus is ______. I am ______.

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