For the past thirty years we have been bombarded with pop psychobabble. The cornerstone of this body of thought is the unbalanced and unbiblical concept of positive self-image–i.e., loving yourself outside the context of loving God and others. Pagan psychobabblers have turned the two-fold Great Commandment on its ear. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus summarizes this commandment as (1) loving God and (2) loving your neighbor as yourself. But today’s enlightened thinkers would have it read as a three-fold directive ascending in this order: (1) love yourself, (2) love your neighbor, and (3) love God.
It is said that self-love is assumed in our Lord’s words. And it is; only not as a commandment but as an already existing reality. We are to love others as much as we already love ourselves! Common sense ought to inform us, as does Scripture, that no man ever hated his own flesh (Eph. 5:29). If anything we love ourselves too much!
Once a rather obese slothful middle-aged depressed woman came to me and exclaimed, “I hate myself!” I asked her why and she replied, “Because I am fat, ugly, and stupid!” I told her that if she truly hated herself she would be glad she was fat, ugly, and stupid. The fact that she wanted better for herself showed that she hated what she had allowed her life to become through her own choices; but she did not really hate herself. She had fed for years on psychobabble before coming to me, and all the self-love and self-esteem jargon in the world had proven worthless in lieu of good old-fashioned common sense and elbow grease. She carried multiple diagnoses and had been drugged to the gills–all to no avail. Once she had exhausted all her savings and credit the professional “helpers” dropped her like a bad habit.
Paul tells us in Romans not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, but to think realistically and soberly, as God has granted to each a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). In other words, don’t have too high an estimation of yourself; but by the same token don’t underestimate yourself either. A few months back I was working with a lady who had spent over twenty years as a stay-at-home mom. With her youngest now in high school she was ready to re-enter the field for which she had completed an undergraduate degree years ago. She was terribly anxious and doubted her ability to function at the necessary levels. I encouraged her. It might be slow going at first but she needed to trust God and the abilities He had given her. “After you have been at it awhile you will see you are as smart and competent as those who have been at it for years.” I am happy to say she has blossomed over the past nine months and is loving her job. As she learns and grows through consistent effort she gains healthy confidence that is based not on the empty wishful thinking of psychobabble, but on the truths of God’s Word and the confirmation of her growth through hard work.
That, my friends, is godly self-confidence.