Self-Esteem?

By Kathy Johnston

If you’ve seen the movie The Help, you will recognize this quote:  “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”

 

I just watched it again a couple weeks ago.  Such a great movie! But it got me thinking about that “princess identity mentality” that seems to be so prevalent these days, especially in Christian circles.  It’s almost like this has become the Christian answer to the whole feminist women’s empowerment movement.  We’ve taken a truth and twisted it to fit in with our cultural worldview rather than bending our worldview to fit in with the truth of the gospel.

 

Don’t get me wrong, we do have our identity in Christ, being fully adopted and called his own children, heirs with Christ. And we are accepted and loved by him as dearly loved children.

 

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)

 

But it becomes a problem when we start thinking, “Well, since God is King, that makes me his princess.”  And our focus becomes placed on who we are rather than who he is.  We end up using it to boost our self-esteem and give ourselves a value that doesn’t belong to us.  We are valuable to him,  approved and accepted by him…but only because we have been imputed with the righteousness of Christ!   Our value is because of Christ, not because of ourselves.

 

We overlook this incredible mind blowing fact: the one who never sinned…lived a perfect life and became sin for us.

 

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

The word used here for righteousness means to be approved, accepted, innocent, without fault, passing scrutiny.  I don’t know about you, but if this is the measure, I know I’m discounted.

 

But the good news is that Jesus not only took on the wrath of God that we rightly deserved as payment for our sin, but he also lived a perfect life, which we could never do.  He passes the full scrutiny of the law!  And his faultless, guiltless life is credited it to us as if we had lived his perfect life and he had lived our sinful life.  When God looks at us, he sees perfection. It is more than we can truly understand.

 

Do you see the danger in this “princess mentality” in light of what Christ has done? When we experience an encounter with a Holy Almighty God, it should knock us down to our knees.  All thoughts of “self” should be gone!

 

I love how Tim Keller explains this, “When we come into the presence of God, we realize we are more wicked than we could ever have believed, and more loved and affirmed than we could ever have hoped for through the grace of God.”

 

Seriously, if we could just get this we wouldn’t need to soothe our self-esteem issues because we will KNOW that we are fully known and fully valued, loved and accepted by the Father. Not because we’re awesome, but because he is!  When we fail (and we will), we will remember the acceptance, love and approval of his son Jesus Christ; and when we succeed, we won’t become prideful, because we will remember we are dirtbag sinners saved by his grace!

 

Jen Wilkin explains this so well in a recent interview:

 

“I think that the reason the self-esteem messages that are common in women’s circles don’t stick is because self-esteem, detached from any idea of who God is, is just not a lasting message. It requires constant reaffirmation.

What we lack is a vision of God high and lifted up. Once we understand that the God who has sought relationship with us is a transcendent God, it rightly orients us first to him, then it rightly orients us to ourselves, and then it rightly orients us to our neighbor. It helps to get the order right in order to live out the Great Commandment to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

The “precious daughter of the King” language is everywhere in Christian women’s circles, and while I want to point it out and ask some questions about it, I don’t want to diminish that it is a beautiful idea. I just want the idea to be framed within the beauty of who the King is, rather than some princess mentality, which I think we could all acknowledge has not done women any favors in any variety.

 

We are precious daughters of the King, but it is because of the King’s preciousness that we can understand the significance of that statement.”

So I urge you (and myself!) to continue to grow and mature in our identity in Christ, reminding each other to remember that we are beautiful, kind, smart and important…only because we are hidden in Christ, and when God sees us, he sees his Son’s perfection.  What a glorious truth!

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