Memorizing Scripture and Self-esteem
Proverbs 2:1-5 My son, if you receive my words, And hide my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.
I don't know about you, but ever since I've been a Christian, I'm constantly hearing the recommendation (commandment?) to memorize Scripture. Yada yada yada... I did enough of that in High School.
Um, well... Way back in the 70's and 80's, there was this Self-help movement to "find your inner child." We did a lot of "inner child work," and memorized what we called "positive affirmations" and repeated them to ourselves over and over and over again until we believed them. We recovered our lost "self esteem" that way. It was wonderful, it worked, and it created a generation of people who were (and are) totally self-absorbed, all about themselves and their own happiness, and as far away from Jesus as they could possibly be.
However, so as not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, let's examine what happened. When people grow up in dysfunctional homes, they typically grow up believing (whether they're told this or not) that they're worthless, and that nothing is "about me." That's where the low self-esteem comes from. They get this "chorus" of people in their heads that constantly scream at them (not literally, but in their self-talk) that they're less than everybody else in some way, and people start to believe the chorus they have in their heads. The self-help movement was all about quieting that chorus and learning how to scream louder than them that we are worth it and worthwhile.
We memorized, repeated what we'd memorized over-and-over, and we were able to finally come to a place where we could believe the new chorus that said we were "wonderful people." Great healing took place, and people felt better (self-absorbed, but better).
Jesus doesn't want us to be self-absorbed. He wants us to be totally other-absorbed. But in the end, those of us who suffered from low self-esteem understand that in the Christian world, low self-esteem translates to "Jesus can't really use me," or "I don't deserve His love," or "The Spiritual Gifts are for everybody else but not me."
What words stand out in those sentences? "I" and "me." Low self esteem is still all about "self." I'm still self-absorbed. It's still all about me. I've turned it upside down - but it's still all about me. And if it's still "all about me," then God will never let us find that joy we seek. God wants us to be all about Him and His children.
Romans 8:12-16 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God...
But what can we learn from this "inner child" work? We learn that we start to believe what we hear about ourselves constantly. If you want to increase your "self-esteem," memorize Scripture that says you're a child of the God who created the universe, that Jesus loves you as much as God does Jesus and He delights in being in fellowship with you. Even if you don't believe it at first, memorize it and keep repeating it to yourself over and over. Repeat it and meditate on it until you know that you know that you know it's true.
Let's put it this way. If you believe that the Bible is the inerrant all-true Word of God, then when David and Solomon and Jesus and Paul and Peter and the rest penned those words, they were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Since He can't lie, then neither could they. Jesus said "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love (John 15:9)" The Greek word for "Just as" means "In the same way." He loves us in the same way as God loves Him! Close your eyes and let that sink in. He meant it in the deepest sense of the word.
Jesus' esteem for you is all the esteem you need. Throw out the whole notion of "self-esteem." The very concept has been perpetrated on us by the devil to put the focus on me. Satan loves your "self-esteem." Rebuke him and reject him. Rebuke the bondage and slavery of "self." Find the freedom God has promised you. Make it all about Jesus, receive and abide in His love, swim in His Word, and the joy you'll feel in your heart will surpass any sorry attempt at self-esteem you could muster.
If you have a "self-esteem problem," memorize Scripture that says you're one of His beloved children. Search for it as for silver and hidden treasures until you find the one that speaks to you. Copy it onto a 3X5 card and carry it around. Repeat it to yourself, bury it in your heart over and over until you believe it to the depths of your soul. He died for you, and He would have even if you had been the only person on the face of the planet. How much more esteem do you need?
Grace and Peace and the everlasting love of Jesus to you all.