The Grove Booklet Self-Esteem and Young People appeared on my desk the other day. I’ve a few things to say about self-esteem, but they’re not all properly ordered in my head yet, so they’ll have to wait. A couple of things on this booklet though; while it sees it necessary to acknowledge that human beings are sinful, it doesn’t seem to know what to do with this perspective, and instead of trying to reconcile it with the idea that God has created humanity in His image, falls into the trap of saying “well, humans are generally alright aren’t we? God sees us as pretty special. He affirms you.” Which doesn’t seem to quite fit with the biblical message that says “there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:1-3) and “You [God] hate all who do wrong” (Psalm 5:5 ). There is valid way about talking about how God loves the world, and where our confidence should lie, but I don’t think it’s in our innate self-worth and being so special and wonderful and God being so cuddly. A doctrine that makes much of humanity and much less of God is probably not a very good one.

6 thoughts on “Self-Esteem”

  1. “There is valid way about talking about how God loves the world, and where our confidence should lie”
    How would you put it Marky Mark? I ask just because I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put well…i’m sinful and crap and all that but God loves me but I don’t think that cuts it as an explanation?
    How’d you “convince”/”tell” someone who knew they were sinful and crap that God loves them fully and completely and stuff?

  2. ASBO-er in peace =] like your blog a lot. Here’s my bash:
    God made me to be good
    That good-ness is broken
    God hates the broken-ness, He is opposed to the broken-ness, He is opposed to me when i choose the broken-ness over Him.
    God loves me, He made me and I am his child. He knows I am made to be good, even though my broken-ness prevents it.
    Even though He would be justified in wiping the slate clean and starting again, even though it would save Him a lot of grief to do so, nevertheless out of love and at great personal cost He decides to rescue and repair me. This is a work in progress. I am not always a co-operative rescue-ee, but i am learning to choose good (which leads to life) over evil (actions arising out of my fractured, broken, damaged nature, which leads to death). One day this work will be completed. That’s gonna be a good day. I’m gonna have tremendous self esteem on that day, cos i’m gonna be a fully functioning, totally repaired masterpiece =]
    In the meantime i’m gonna have to live with the tension.

  3. I like your thoughts Linus, and probably lean someway to that myself, my big question that I’m currently pondering on is this: Do human beings have any inherent worth? Or is our worth entirely because of our current standing with God? I shall ponder this some…
    As for your question Gareth, I have not many better ideas, I’m with you as seeing the problem, in that people will often say either “you’re a terrible sinner and God hates you and your sin, but he loves you” or “God loves you and thinks you’re great and worth everything, but you’re a sinner”. I think there is probably a way between the two of those worth charting.

  4. I agree with ya mark,
    so lets say someone fully knows and feels deeply how terrible they are and all that kind of thing…how would you “convince them”/”tell them”/whatever of that God loves them…with the knowledge that they already know and feel appalling and bad and stuff

  5. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16a
    “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
    The fact that God, despite you being rubbish, loved you enough to go through hell so that you don’t have to.

  6. Hey
    i wanted to comment on your whole self esteem post but didn’t seem to be able to so will post here in response to the question of inherent worth. Hope thats ok. Thanks for indulging me (i need to get a blog of my own and stop hijaking those of people i don’t actually know. sorry)
    anyhow, it took me a while to respond cos i knew i disagreed strongly but wasn’t sure why and then i wasn’t sure how to express it – what you said about the doctrine of salvation i had no issue with (essentially i think you said that my rescue is dependent on God’s character and worthiness and not mine. That we don’t deserve to be rescued. That left to our own devices we are incapable of serving God effectively. But that to extrapolate from these doctrines that God will not or cannot love me, rescue me and work through me is to underestimate the wonderfulness of God.)
    So far i’m all for that, but the idea that a human has no inherent worth felt all wrong. We are made in the image of God, i thought – we cannot be worthless. And that’s the clue. Your argument starts with the fall: we are sinners. And we are. I am a terrible sinner and i hate it. But that is not my inherent nature. That is my circumstance. It’s still real and unavoidable and it has consequences, but it is circumstance. God called my inherent nature “very good” and God is in the business of restoring that nature, so i am once again very good. I think theology should not start and end with the fall, or even start with the fall and end with salvation – it should start with creation and end with redemption. The fall and salvation, even the cross (though central) are waypoints inbetween. They are twists in the tale, not the conclusion.
    When a pregnant woman is addicted to cocaine, she gives birth, in the fullness of time, to a “crack baby”. The baby is addicted to cocaine from birth. Is this the baby’s fault? no. Does the baby suffer the consequences? yes. Would the addiction ultimately result in that child causing harm to themselves and others? yes. So it is on a spiritual and relational level with sin. Does God love us cos of our sin? no, He loves us cos its His nature to love us. But out of that love He intends to cure us – just like medical staff will treat the baby for its cocaine addiction. And once God has fully cured us, we will have inherent worth. Inherent freedom from sin. Just like the baby, once cured, will have inherent freedom from its previous cocaine addiction. Our worth will still be given to us by God, both in creating us and in curing us (redemption), so no-one can boast. But it will be inherent, quantifiable worth. We will be good. Very good. And that is good to know.

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