Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.
– Hebrews 10:35-36
No person is one-dimensional. One way to look at it is that there are three views of every individual: the view that God has of us, the opinions that others hold concerning us, and the perception we have of ourselves. Each of these is quite important.
First, how does God see us? First Samuel 16:7 tells us that, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” In 1 Kings 8:39, Solomon tells us that God “alone know the hearts of all the sons of men.” Hannah, the mother of Samuel, acknowledged in the prayer she offers in 1 Samuel 2:3, “For the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.” Similarly, in John 2:25, Jesus affirmed that “He knew what was in man.”
If you consider Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian is an exceptionally beautiful man, and an artist becomes infatuated by his beauty. Dorian begins to believe in a hedonistic worldview that beauty and sensual fulfillment are the only things worth pursuing in the life of others, and he expresses the desire to sell his soul to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. It is through the portrait that Dorian can see the ugly results of his self-indulgent actions. The figure in the painting grows older and uglier as time goes by. Similarly, if some of the world’s “beautiful people” were turned inside out and revealed as God sees them, they might appear as grotesque as the painting of Dorian Gray.
It is not our outward looks that God judges us by, but our inner hearts.
Second, how do others see us? The view others have of us is only relatively accurate. People may hold an opinion of us that is greatly exaggerated. Those who are in the public eye are idealized at times, even when they have done nothing to deserve it or have told people what they want to hear in order to get their approval. On the other hand, people who have the utmost character are sometimes slandered unjustly. Jesus did not deserve the hateful reproaches that were heaped upon him by the self-righteous religious leaders of the time. The apostle Paul lived as a Pharisee and participated in the persecution of early disciples of Jesus and suffered character assassinations for his actions before he became a believer in Christ. Then, he faced persecution from the Romans for being a follower of Jesus.
Sometimes, we don’t give a person a second chance because of how we have perceived them in the past, and sometimes, others don’t give us the second chance we deserve because of things in our past.
Finally, how do we see ourselves? We constantly appraise our own lives, and our perceptions of ourselves can become distorted. Our self-perception may be grossly inflated. Either we see ourselves as better than we are, or we do not have the self-esteem to have confidence in ourselves. That is why we are cautioned not to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Romans 12:3 tells us that a person should “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 11:20 warns us “not [to] be haughty,” and Romans 12:16 tells us not to “be wise in your own opinion,” but instead we should “associate with the humble.” Therefore, we can’t overvalue our self-worth if it is unwarranted.
It is important, though, that we have a healthy view of ourselves. In Matthew 22:39, Jesus commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” While this is the Golden Rule we should all live by, it also implies we need a concept of self-esteem to treat others in a way that we and all humans deserve. Sadly, we often harbor a low appreciation of ourselves—so much so that it hinders our effective service to God and torments our lives with much unhappiness. Self-confidence and self-esteem can make us better Christians because if we deserve that self-confidence and self-esteem, then we know we are serving God in the best ways we can.
My new favorite quote is by a fellow Alabamian, Zora Neale Hurston. She said, “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” We should live our lives in a way that we know we are worthy of God’s love, no matter what others may think of us.
April 16th, 2023 at 6:46 pm
I would like something more spiritual and uplifting for next Sunday’s sermon. Nothing by comparison or negative.
April 16th, 2023 at 9:58 pm
I’ll try my best.
April 16th, 2023 at 7:10 pm
Good things to consider. It’s hard for us humans, sinners we all are, to live by the teachings of Jesus but we should give it an honest try.
Self confidence doesn’t mean arrogance and demeaning others we don’t think are at our level. We must have faith in ourselves to accomplish the things we want to in life. But in doing so we need to be there for others and help them as we would want them to do the same for us.