Biblical View of Self-Esteem - An Explanation of Key Verses
Definitions from Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
Self-Esteem: Undo PRIDE in oneself (p. 1646)
Pride: Overhigh opinion of oneself; conceit (p. 1428)
Humility: Absence of PRIDE or self-assertion (p. 884)
The attached Bible verse explanations (New Testament and Old Testament) detail how God views us and how we should view ourselves. Taken in proper context, the attached Biblical references clearly indicate that there is no Biblical basis for self-esteem, self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-forgiveness, self-assertion, "proper" self-image, self-actualization, or any of the other selfisms advocated by the worldly system of psychology. The Bible's answer for our emotional "problems": turn from self to Christ (and His all-sufficient Word).
New Testament Verses
Mt 22:36-40 -- Jesus gives two great commandments: (1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; (2) Love your neighbor as yourself -- there is no third command to love yourself. Jesus is saying, "as you already love yourself" -- "as" is used in the same way in Eph 5:25,28,33, indicating a state of current existence, not a command. Jesus knows we already love ourselves and thereby commands us to love others with this same commitment.
Lk 10:25-37 -- Example given by Jesus to illustrate the "love neighbor as yourself" command, presents a story of self-sacrifice (not self-love) towards an object of hate (a Samaritan)!
Mt 16:24,25 -- Deny self, i.e., say no to self; not told to self-affirm, self-gratify, or self-actualize.
Lk 9:23 -- Deny self, i.e., put self to death, daily; not told to self-affirm, self-gratify, or self-actualize.
Mt 20:26,27 -- The great are the servants, not the ones served.
Mt 23:11,12 -- The great are the servants; the humble will be exalted.
Lk 22:24-27 -- The servant is the greatest, not the proud.
Lk 14:26 -- Cannot be a disciple of Jesus, unless deny even yourself.
2 Tim 3:2-5 -- "Lovers of Self" listed with other "detestable" sins such as slanderers, the treacherous, abusive, proud, conceited; therefore, high self-esteem/pride is a sin!
Jn 12:25 -- Lover of one's own life (self) will lose eternal life.
Jn 13:16,17 -- Humble service is a command.
Jn 15:5 -- Apart from God, i.e., lover of self vs. lover of God, you can do nothing.
I Cor 1:18,19 -- Message of the cross (denial of self) is foolishness to those perishing (i.e., to the psychological self-worshipers).
I Cor 4:3-5 -- Objective judgments are ours to make, but those regarding overall worth or esteem belong to the Lord.
I Cor 13:2 -- Self-esteem advocates teach we must be of value to ourselves in order to be able to love others, but God tells us that we are nothing, unless and until we love others.
I Cor 13:4,5 -- Definitions of what love is not -- not envy, not boasting, not proud, and not self-seeking.
2 Cor 3:5 -- No competence in ourselves (no pride), but only from God.
2 Cor 5:15 -- Live for Christ, via humble service, not for yourself.
2 Cor 10:12,18 -- Look to Christ for comparison, not to yourself; i.e., no self-esteem gospel.
Eph 3:8; I Tim 1:15; Rom 7:24 -- Sounds as if Paul has a terrible self-esteem problem! Paul recognizes his rotten condition, to be resolved only through the gospel of the cross, which is a "humble servant" attitude.
Rom 12:3b -- Don't think of yourself too highly, but with sober judgment -- notice that Paul makes no mention of the possibility of one under-valuing himself.
Gal 6:3,4 -- Sober evaluation should be made not on the basis of how one is doing in comparison with others, but by comparing oneself with Scriptural standards, and of course, Scriptural standards stress humility and putting self to death (denial of self), not boosting one's self-esteem.
I Cor 10:24 -- Nobody should ever seek his own good, but the good of others.
Eph 5:21 -- Submit to others for Christ's sake: i.e., humble submission, not pride.
2 Cor 11:30 -- If boast in anything, boast in weakness!
Phil 2:3 -- Do not act out of self-concerns, but for others, and then in humility.
Heb 13:17 -- Submit to your spiritual leaders, not your self-desires.
I Pet 5:5b-7 -- Be humble toward others because God opposes the proud.
Col 3:12 -- Christians should clothe themselves in humility.
Eph 4:2 -- We are commanded to be completely humble and gentle.
Js 4:10 -- Humility leads to esteem -- esteem from the Lord.
Lk 6:31 -- The golden rule: Jesus could confidently make this statement because He knew we already loved ourselves; i.e., if hating ourselves was our natural condition (as the "self-esteemers" tell us), then it would make us happy to be treated badly (as it would confirm our hateful feelings of ourselves), and Jesus would, thereby, be telling us to treat others with the same contempt and loathing that we desire for ourselves.
Lk 6:32 -- The fact that Jesus refers to "sinners" (i.e., enemies of God) as practicing the, "I'll love you if you love me first," philosophy, the self-esteem teaching that, "You have to love yourself before you are able to love others," must, thereby, also be rejected as being ungodly.
I Jn 2:16,17 -- Man's "boasting of what he has and does" (i.e., self-esteem/pride) is not the will of God, but is "of the world."
Phil 2:5-8 -- One's "attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus" -- i.e., "made Himself nothing," "taking the form of a servant," "humbled Himself," "became obedient to death." In general, one should have an attitude of a humble servant-loving, self-sacrificing, compassionate, submissive, obedient, courageous, and holy -- i.e., no "selfisms" at all, only "otherisms"!
2 Cor 12:6,7 -- Even though Paul would have possibly been warranted in having a so-called "healthy" self-esteem, he refused to boast; God, also, didn't want Paul to have high self-esteem -- i.e., conceit.
Old Testament Verses