Don’t wait to be loved but rather love. In our humanity we measure our self-esteem by how much we are loved or acknowledged rather how much we proactively love.
SINFUL SELF IMAGE
“Evidence of poor self image: over attention on clothes; inability to trust God; excessive shyness; difficulty in loving others; self criticism; wishful comparison; perfectionism; attitudes of superiority [tries to narrow his field of comparison to a selection he is comfortable with]; awkward attempts to hide unchangeable defects; extravagance [things that bring to them admiration, respect); wrong priorities.
‘Jesus’ 10 unchangeables: the shadow of illegitimacy; his time in history – a wicked ruler; his race – a despised people; his nation – a conquered land; his gender – a predetermined vocation; his birth order – a lifetime of specific responsibility; his family – [shame] a family without honour; his appearance – lack of beauty; his divine nature an offence; his death a public shame.”
Unquote: Gothard (modified).
This kind of worth is measured by other people’s opinions and what we possess; measuring God’s favour and love by what He provides, no trial, and providing our wants.
WHY WE EXPERIENCE SELF IMAGE ISSUES:
1.) We base our worth on human relationships and life circumstances.
A paraplegic may feel very self-conscious that he fails to meet the standard of acceptance; feels he doesn’t belong and is inferior? Is he objectively right? A teenage girl looks into the mirror and feels her ears are way to big. Is she objectively substandard?
We try to gain joy and happiness through things and relationships. We try to gain people’s acceptance so that they perform according to my needs. We buy things under the assumption that we should deserve to have things – like the bank advertisements ‘You deserve that dream house.’
We measure our worth by how acceptable we are to a particular group we want affirmation from. The drive is to gain self-acceptance through these externals.
How often do we pray to God to change or strengthen us so that we may respond properly in spite of relationships; instead of demanding we be loved and accommodated as proof of being loved; we are to love your enemies Matt 5:44 – or rest in our circumstances – ‘in all things being content‘ Phil 4:11.
“Scarcely superior to this principle is the desire of reputation. A certain kind of religion is favourable to reputation. To pass through life with honour is certainly the supreme object with many. Now this principle is not merely defective but hostile to religion. Its very aim is the gratification of self-esteem. It tends to exalt man, not God. It forgets the very first feeling of all religion, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright ©)
2.) Therefore we live selfishly, continually failing in our efforts, thus affirming our poor self-image that breeds all kinds of anger/depressions.
Often, if we do seek God, instead of trusting Him and obeying Him, we try to get on His good side so He will make our life easy and comfortable – gaining a sense that God thinks I am worth blessing or trying to measure up to His standards so He will find me worth blessing.
We most often measure His love for us based on this principle – IF GOD LOVES ME HE WILL PROVIDE ALL I NEED TO BE HAPPY; IF HE ISN’T MEETING MY NEED TO BE HAPPY, I MUST BE FAILING TO MEET HIS EXPECTATIONS.
…my constant prayer is that I may know the worst of my case, whatever the knowledge may cost me. I know that an accurate estimate of my own heart can never be otherwise than lowering to my self-esteem; but God forbid that I should be spared the humiliation which springs from the truth! The sweet apples of self-esteem are deadly poison; who would wish to be destroyed thereby? (from Spurgeon’s Sermons)
Failing this goal we may forsake God (or religion) and pursue other ways to try and gain happiness or just assume we are undeserving of anything good because I am but trash.
3.) A proud self-image is conscious compensation against of our low sense of acceptance through achievement or riches (being above others by comparisons).
Through things and people we try to compensate and wrestle with denial of the truth of our standing before God – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Ro 3:23
2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”
6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down)
7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” NIV
THE DEMAND OR BEING PREOCCUPIED by people and the world cooperating toward my needs, by my definition of what will give me personal happiness, is to be sinful and is rebellious to the grace of God that frees us to obey Him and love our neighbours as ourselves.
Scarcely superior to this principle is the desire of reputation. … To pass through life with honour is certainly the supreme object with many. Now this principle is not merely defective but hostile to religion. Its very aim is the gratification of self-esteem. It tends to exalt man, not God. It forgets the very first feeling of all religion, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
(from The Biblical Illustrator)
“A research study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health attempted to find a relationship between self-esteem and delinquent children. The researchers found that “the effect of self-esteem on delinquent behaviour is negligible.” The researchers confess, “Given the extensive speculation and debate about self esteem and delinquency, we find these results something of an embarrassment.”
“It is fashionable to follow the view of some psychologists that self is a bundle of needs and that personal growth is the business of progressively meeting these needs. Many Christians go along with such beliefs…. One mark of the almost total success of this new morality is that the Christian Church, traditionally keen on mortifying the desires of the flesh, on crucifying the needs of self in the pursuit of the religious life, has eagerly adopted the language of needs for itself… we now hear that “Jesus will meet your every need,” as though he were some kind of divine psychiatrist or divine detergent, as though God were simply to service us.”
EVEN THE STATEMENT “God don’t make junk.’ Is not theologically correct relative to our being. WE HAVE MADE OURSELVES TO BE JUNK: AND JUNK WE ARE!
GOD, HOWEVER, TAKES THE JUNK WE ARE AND IN CHRIST MAKES US INTO A NEW CREATION. We are not worth saving, but God’s love wants to save the worthless. THE FOCUS IS GOD’S LOVE NOT OUR SELF-ESTEEM NEEDS!
Does God take pity on your wallowing in poor self-image? No, but your unbelief of His willingness to love you in spite of your wicked, rebellious, stubborn, or self-preoccupation keeps you prisoner to your self-esteem. Even worse, measuring whether God loves you by how much He controls your world and relationships according to your self-needs is sinful!
Eph 2:1-3; Ro 3:10-18.
‘Many Christians believe the humanistic lie that when people’s needs are met, they will be good, loving people. Through the influence of humanistic psychology, they believe that people sin because their needs are not met. Some say that teenagers rebel because their needs are not met. However, Scripture does not bear this out. Adam and Eve had it all. There was no need in their lives that was not being met to its fullest, and yet they chose to sin, have their own way, disbelieve God, believe a lie, and love self more than God’. Bobgan
OUR STUMBLING BLOCK IS FIGHTING OR FEEDING THIS SELF-IMAGE INSTEAD OF ACKNOWLEDGING IT AND COMING TO GOD TO RECEIVE GRACE!
2 Cor 10:12
12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
“But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life, mainly [loving] myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it; in fact, the very reason why I hated the things [was doing] was that I loved the man, just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.” C.S. Lewis
GOD ACCEPTS ME, NOT BECAUSE OF WHO I AM OR WHAT I AM, BUT BECAUSE OF WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR ME ON THE CROSS.
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son. The NET Bible
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. NASU
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: ASV
Eph 1:6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. New Living Translation
Eph 1:6 Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. TLB
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. RSV
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He did make us accepted in the beloved, YLT
Eph 1:6 to [the] praise of [the] glory of his grace, wherein he has taken us into favour in the Beloved: Darby
Notice the past tense of the verse; not that He will, or might, but does accept us in the beloved. Rest in the fact.
The counter action of the this ruling self-image, whether pride or self condemning, is knowing we are loved and accepted as we are – one has said, “God accepts us as we are but loves us too much to leave us the way we are”.
1. In all men there is an ignorance of what sin is. Man will not come to the light lest he should know more than he wishes to know: Moreover, such is the power of self-esteem that the sinner seldom dreams that he has committed anything worse than little faults.
(from The Biblical Illustrator)
John 1:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (NKJ)
I Jn 3:1‑2 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
2 Beloved , now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.(NKJ)
THE GOSPEL DOES
NOT INCREASE OR IMPROVE OUR SELF-IMAGE,
BUT OUR IMAGE OF GOD!
“The believer must learn by two means the fact that the self life is unimprovable. (1) Specific Scripture: God never intends to improve the old man, because, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God… neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned 1 Cor 2:14. Further, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another Gal 5:17. Everything of the first Adam is unalterably opposed to everything of the last Adam. Self is implacable in its attitude toward God, having the very essence of the enemy. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be Romans 8:7. (2) personal experience: One’s daily life proves beyond doubt that the sinful Adamic source within never changes. The awakened and honest believer must admit that self is as capable of sin after fifty years of the Christian life as it was before he was saved – sometimes, it seems, even more so.
“No, our Father can accept nothing of the Adamic life, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘religious’ it may seem in the natural realm. And when the believer sees that God has taken all the old life to the cross and crucified it with Christ, he will like-wise count [reckon] it crucified, and take his place of consecration as alive to God in Christ Jesus.” 
When saved, the believer’s eyes are open to the fact, through the Word, that he has nothing to prove to God, and he rests from dead works,  and is only left with a yearning to live a life pleasing to God in light of His marvellous gift. Adherence to the law of love is the expected response of thanksgiving, and it is the way we should walk in light of the new creation we have become by an act of God in our hearts.
Acceptance because of God’s faithfulness
“..All to few are enjoying the benefits of acceptance in their daily walk. The believer who is not aware of his position of acceptance in Christ is caught in the struggle to improve his condition in order to feel acceptable to God. But the believer who abides in the Lord Jesus as his righteousness and acceptance is freed from futile self-effort. Standing in his position, he trusts Christ to manifest himself increasingly in his life. He is free from the burden of himself and has become burdened on behalf of others.” MILES STANFORD; THE GREEN LETTERS.
This is a gracious beginning to our Saviour’s discourse, “Blessed are the poor.” None ever considered the poor as Jesus did; but here he is speaking of a poverty of spirit, a lowliness of heart, an absence of self-esteem. Where that kind of spirit is found, it is sweet poverty: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the kingdom of heaven” Matt 5:3.
(from Spurgeon’s Sermons)
“…is a marvellous, fourfold description of what happens to one who discovers the true wisdom of righteousness as a gift from God, one who walks with God in fear of God.
First, it will make that person a unique human being. One of the follies of life is to try to imitate somebody else. The media constantly bombard us with subtle invitations to look like, dress like, or talk like some popular idol. If you succeed in that, of course, you will be nothing but a cheap imitation of another person. The glory of the Good News is that when you become a new creature in Jesus Christ, will be unique. There will be no one else like you. You will become more and more like Christ, but unlike everyone else in personality. You will become uniquely yourself. You will not be a cheap copy, a cheap imitation, but an original from the Spirit of God.” 
The best way to increase a person’s sense of value is to LOVE THEM and let them know you’re faithful to them, NOT BY OVERLOOKING THEIR SINS OR FAILURES (as school systems are doing more of lately) but accept where and who they, and desiring they experience real forgiveness only God can provide and through that being fully accepted. Then they will know they are loved; and as such their self-image is made to be bearable and can rest in God’s grace.
2 Cor 10:12-18
12 For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
13 But we will not boast beyond certain limits, but will confine our boasting according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us, that reaches even as far as you.
14 For we were not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach as far as you, because we were the first to reach as far as you with the gospel about Christ.
15 Nor do we boast beyond certain limits in the work done by others, but we hope that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits,
16 so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area.
17 But the one who boasts must boast in the Lord.
18 For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the Lord commends. NET Bible
Are we ready for spiritual power: — This power is what we want; but the question is, are we ready for it? Are we fit to be used, willing to be used, to be used anywhere, to be apparently unused, to be nothing, that Christ may be all? The possession of power is a great responsibility; perhaps the self-will and self-esteem of some of us would make the possession of such power a very deadly thing. Andrew Murray says, “We want to get possession of the power, and use it; God wants the power to get possession of us, and use us. If we give ourselves to the power to rule in us, the power will give itself to us to rule through us.” We are waiting here this morning to be filled with power. Perhaps we had better wait first to be emptied.
(from The Biblical Illustrator)
What do you and I need according to Scripture?
WE NEED FORGIVENESS (which we do not deserve). I need to recognize my need of mercy in light of my lostness, not help to improve my shortcomings.
WE NEED A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD (who has every right to ignore us). We need to recognize God’s graciousness because of His goodness, not obligation to our needs.
WE NEED A NEW LIFE (for our lives without God are not worth living). All we have lived prior to salvation is to be discarded as worthless. We are not to see God as a superior means of achieving our self motivated goals of the self life.
WE NEED HOPE FOR OUR FUTURE (aside from Christ there is a hopeless eternity) We need to recognize God’s gift of a future not His obligation because we are created in His image.
 John D. McCarthy and DeanR. Hodge “the Dynamics of Self-Esteem and Delinquency” AMERICAN Journal of Sociology, vol. 0, no 2, p 407 as quoted in Prophets of Psychoheresey; Bobgan; pg 91
 Ernest R. Hilgard, Rita L. Atkinson, Richard C. Atkinson. Introduction to Psychology, 7th edition; New York: Harcourt, Brace, Janovich, Inc. 1979, pg 389
 2 Cor 5:17
 Is that All There is to Life; Ray C. Stedman; Discovery House Publishers; p 105f