We are living in the era of self-esteem. Having a healthy appreciation of one’s self seems right, doesn’t it? After all, we ought to value ourselves, love ourselves; it’s an expectation. The Bible says so. In fact, it is the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself“. (my emphasis) What could possibly go wrong?
What could possibly go wrong? Well, we could stop viewing ourselves rightly. We could become self-absorbed. We could become to believe that we are entitled to all things good, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we want it all now.
Generally, we do not have a problem loving ourselves. We naturally try to protect ourselves, and care for ourselves.
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” Ephesians 5:29a
Building up of one’s self-esteem, I believe became really popular in the 80s just about the time that I was a young mom. I bought into it to some extent as well; raising my kids to believe that they were valued, and that they must value themselves.
I really didn’t think about it, even though, we would sing songs like Amazing Grace at church on a regular basis that said we were sinners, we were wretched and needed a Savior. One of those songs was Amazing Grace.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..
Wait, what? Wretch? Yes, we are wretched, at least we were, but now those very lyrics have been changed in some circles to accommodate our high value of self. I was at a funeral when I was awakened from any possible lull when I heard the singer sing this:
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved and set me free…
Yes, Grace did save and set me free, but what happened to me being a wretch? Why did I need to be saved? I was quite surprised to hear this change and then considered this is just another step of our losing our sense of who we really are as given in the Bible. We are image bearers of God, who created us in his image. We were created to glorify him, to reflect his glory, but when sin entered in through Adam, our image was marred.
The way I see it, the self-esteem era has helped to show just how much we have moved away from the God who created us. We are the created; yet, we have become self-absorbed. Today, this has taken us to where we are now. We now live in the selfie generation. It is all about us, about me and mine. So, we would never see ourselves as a wretch needing a Savior, although the Bible states:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:10,23 KJV
Although, I’m afraid that this over valuing of one’s self takes us down a path that’s not for our good; it is not a new thing. The Apostle Paul described how this downward spiral would end in his epistle to the Romans.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:21-25 ESV
The Apostle Paul later describes the antithetical of what our current generation is plagued with, namely self-absorption.
Let nothing be done through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:3-5 KJV
What do you think? Do you consider that you are a wretch needing a Savior? Have you changed the words to Amazing Grace to accommodate your value of self?