“If I could write a prescription for the women of the world,” wrote psychologist Dr. James Dobson, “it would provide each of them with a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth. I have no doubt that this is their greatest need.” But is the same need present for men? I, for one, believe it is. What most people need today is a good dose of self-esteem that is a great deal different from ego or pride.
You may consider it to be academic, but there is a big difference between self-love and the love of self. Self-love is your knowledge of the fact you are a person of value and worth. Without this, you can’t function adequately. This is totally different from the love of self, or pride, that Jesus condemned.
Whenever I meet a person who is always putting himself or herself down, making remarks that tell me that person doesn’t think he or she is as good as most people, I see an unhappy person who doesn’t function very well.
Knowing who you are, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, allows you to maximize your effectiveness and realize your potential as a human being. This is God’s intent for your life. It is what Paul was driving at when he wrote, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). This makes you understand your need to let God work through your life and gives you the freedom to be yourself.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment. Romans 12:3
In His ministry, Jesus recognized the value of the individual when He said that you ought to love your neighbor “as yourself.” He never went around saying, “I’m not baptizing nearly as many people as John is.” Or suggesting that the woman at the well find a good counselor to break through her obsessive-compulsive behavior. He treated people as individuals of value and worth, which is part of what enabled them to change their lives. On occasions, Jesus walked long distances to talk with only one person, usually someone whom society would consider to be pretty unimportant.
We’ve got to learn that many of the expectations that are thrust upon us today are society’s, not God’s. The woman who is constantly comparing herself to others, saying, “I’m not as beautiful or as lovely as so-and-so” hasn’t recognized the fact that God made her an individual, a unique person different from all the other women in the world.
No one in all the world sees with your eyes, or feels with your emotions, or experiences what you do. You’re one of a kind, an original without duplication.
Insight: To be the person that you can be, you’ve got to rid yourself of feelings that you didn’t measure up to your dad’s expectations, or what your culture expects of you, and say, “God, I want to be all that You want me to be, nothing more, nothing less; so here I am; fill me with Yourself and let me be the person You want me to be.”
That, friend, gives you the liberty to be completely you.
Shortly before his death the English poet E. E. Cummings wrote to a high school student and said, “To be nobody-but-myself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means the hardest battle any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”
It’s time to turn our backs on the images which confront us on television, in newsstand publications, and which bombard us in society, and turn on to reality and genuineness. When you are at peace with yourself, you can make peace with those who trouble you.
Resource reading: Psalms 139:13-16