Saturday, July 23, 2005

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.



At July 25, 2005 10:02 AM, Blogger Trail Rider said...

Your are awesome! The spirit is alive and well in this vessel! It encourages me to see that God is at work all over the place. I have to ask for forgiveness alot for putting him in a box...He's sooo BIG!
You hit the nail again there sue! I have a post on "depression" that compliments this post. (June archives)
My sister (side link/livin forgiven/"I feel....wrong" is the name of the post) has a post that talks about being a dead man that I think you would thoughrouly enjoy! Check them out.

Be blessed today! It's neat how when you are saved by the blood, that makes us sisters. And I feel close to you. Keep fishing men and being the light where you are over there!

At July 25, 2005 10:07 AM, Blogger Sue said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement. The enemy had me a little nervous about this one because not everybody sees the issue of Self esteem the way I do. I pray it's received in a way that glorifies God and His Spirit. Thanks again, and I will definitely check out your post. Thanks for letting me know.

At July 26, 2005 10:46 PM, Blogger Trail Rider said...

I think it goes deeper than the way you see it. The bible is clear on "self focus". What you posted was not an opinion, it was truth.
Stand up for what is right, even if your standing alone.

At July 27, 2005 8:18 AM, Blogger Sue said...

Thanks for the feedback, but I think I need a little clarification. What do you see the Bible's deeper position on "self-focus" is? I'm definitely intriqued. I love new thoughts to chew on... ;)

At July 27, 2005 5:13 PM, Blogger Trail Rider said...

God wants us to serve, not to be served. It's all throughtout the word that we are to have an outward focus. I think that the sure way to get depressed is to be self absorbed. I don't have a super deep spiritual meaning right now. But let me put it this way, I stand with you in everthing you said in your post. Does that make sense?


At July 27, 2005 6:29 PM, Blogger Sue said...

God indeed wants us to serve - yes, that makes perfect sense. Thanks again for the encouragement and confirmation. Jesus served, Paul served, Peter served, and the longer they walked with Jesus, the more they viewed themselves as servants and bond-slaves. I love that James referred to himself as a bond-servant rather than acknowledging his blood relationship. Even though he was a late-comer, he fell hard. Bond-servant. That's what I want to be. Thanks again for your posts. You encourage me.

Your sister in Christ.

At March 23, 2006 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are unbelievable this is very strengthening article it is very nice of you to write it
Spasibo Katya

At March 23, 2006 10:01 PM, Blogger Sue said...

Spasibo - Thanks so much for your encouragement and kind words. I love writing this stuff, and I thank God that he's put the desire in my heart. God Bless, Sue

At June 05, 2009 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Sue, I am a first-time visitor to your blog. Thank you for posting on the issue of scripture and self-esteem. I am researching the whole self-esteem issue within a scriptural context. In a broader sense, I am researching issues dealing with the integration (compatibility) of the Bible and psychology. I appreciate your comments and I welcome your further discussion of something so important for us.

God Bless,

At June 05, 2009 4:38 PM, Blogger Sue said...

You're very welcome, Todd. I'm glad you're doing that research. If you'd like, feel free to e-mail me at the address above and we can talk further. I actually have expanded on this thought some, and if you'd be interested, I'd be happy to share.


At October 04, 2010 2:23 AM, Blogger shace007 said...

Sue you rock! God has spoken to my heart through you! thank you!

At October 04, 2010 9:34 PM, Blogger Sue said...

Hello, Shace - Wow, what a great comment. Thanks for your encouraging words. I'm so glad God was able to speak to you through it. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings, Sue


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