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April 03, 2013

The Problem with Self Esteem

Excerpt taken from The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

Up until the twentieth century, traditional cultures always believed that too high a view of yourself was the root cause of all evil in the world. What is the reason for most of the crime and violence in the world? Why are people abused? Why are people cruel? Why do people do the bad things they do? Traditionally, the answer was hubris – the Greek word meaning pride or too high view of yourself. Traditionally, that was the reason given for why people misbehave.

Our belief today – and it is deeply rooted in everything – is that people misbehave for lack of self-esteem and because they have too low a view of themselves.

So what is the truth? With the avalanche of self help books and how to improve one’s self by having a view of ourselves – have we really gotten better?

Psychologist Lauren Slater in an article at New York Times Magazine (February 2012) titled “The Problem with Self Esteem”, states that people with high self esteem pose a greater threat to those around them than people with low self esteem and feeling bad about yourself is not the source of our country’s biggest, most expensive social problems.

If I train up my child and tell them that they are good and are angels – would it really make them better? I think the answer is simple but hard to swallow.

1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7 English Standard Version (ESV)

21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

4 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,[a] that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Three things Paul shows us here are:

1. The natural condition of the human ego.

2. The transformed sense of self

3. How to get that transformed sense of self.

So what’s next? You really want to know the root of the problem and the heart of the solution – then go buy