Have You Achieved Low Self-Esteem?

I came across this arresting passage in a book I’m reading this week:

“A young, well-dressed man (at an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting) stood up and gave his personal narrative of addiction. It was full of tales of injustice and betrayal and mostly full of himself. The young speaker gave the impression of being a proud man who needed to blame others and justify himself. While the young man was speaking, a man in his forties, with dreadlocks and black shades, leaned over and said, ‘I used to feel that way, too, before I achieved low self-esteem.'” (Andrew Delbanco, quoted by Kevin DeYoung in The Good News We Almost Forgot)

Accepting personal responsibility for your problems is a message that runs counter to popular culture. We are told that our most basic problem is not loving ourselves enough.  We are taught to demand from others respect and fair treatment. To admit that you are wrong is to make yourself vulnerable.

The dreadlocked sage behind the shades surfaced a basic theological truth that is clearly taught in the Word of God. Before you can experience the life-changing love of Jesus Christ, you must achieve low self-esteem!

The kind of “low self-esteem” I’m describing means, instead of justifying yourself, you freely admit that you are a sinner by birth and by choice. Your sinful choices have separated you from a holy God and you have no virtue whereby you can earn or deserve forgiveness. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Only by embracing the bad news about ourselves can we experience the miracle of the good news. It was the tax collector who prayed, “God be merciful to me the sinner,” who went home enjoying a right relationship with God (Luke 18:14). Those who “confess and forsake” their transgressions find forgiveness, while those who conceal them will not prosper (Prov. 28:13).

Have you “achieved low self-esteem”? Have you taken personal responsibility for your sins? Then rest today in the Savior who died for us “while we were yet sinners” (Rom. 5:8). His atoning blood is what transforms our bad news into the best good news the world will ever hear.


About Sam Harbin
I am the President of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA as well as the Chair and Professor of Pastoral Theology.

2 Responses to Have You Achieved Low Self-Esteem?

  1. Alex Tandon says:

    Isn’t it ironic that we expend effort toward boosting our self-esteem when our gracious Creator esteemed us worth sending His Son to die for? Who needs self-esteem when we have God-esteem on account of the precious, atoning blood of Jesus Christ!!!

    • Jonathan Bach says:

      I like that Sam. Thanks. I’m praying for the conference this week. Auf Wiedersehen.

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