Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Self Esteem vs. God Esteem

The definition of esteem is “to regard with respect; prize.” I have always struggled with the idea that I will find contentment in life by loving myself or esteeming myself more. This thinking has been primo in our culture for years. Countless therapy sessions have ended with the psychologist writing in his or her notes, “suffers from poor self-esteem.”

I have been reading John Piper’s book “Don’t Waste Your Life” and really appreciated his insights on this issue (P. 33):
For many people… they do not feel loved when they are told that God created them for his glory. They feel used. This is understandable given the way love has been almost completely distorted in our world. For most people, to be loved is to be made much of. Almost everything in our Western culture serves this distortion of love. We are taught in a thousand ways that love means increasing one’s self-esteem. Love is helping someone feel good about themselves. Love is giving someone a mirror and helping him like what he sees.

This is not what the Bible means by the love of God. Love is doing what is best for someone. But making self the object of our highest affections is not best for us. It is, in fact, a lethal distraction. We were made to see and savor God – and savoring him, to be supremely satisfied, and thus spread in all the world the worth of his presence. Not to show people the all-satisfying God is not to love them. To make them feel good about themselves when they were made to feel good about seeing God is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.

The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness.

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