*Pastor’s Note: This is one of the articles I wrote and posted for my very first website in the mid 90s soon after I got my first computer. I know, I was a slow up and comer! I thought it might interest my readers to read some of my first posted writings. I HAVE updated some of the Scripture references, but all in all, it is pretty much as I posted them on my very first website. The pictures were added for this posting, though.
One of the most popular teachings that has cropped up within the church over the last several years has been the teaching on self love, or, the importance of esteeming one’s self in today’s hectic world. The theory behind this is that we need to learn to love ourselves before we can ever begin to love God. This has caught on so much that some of our major religious organizations even hold seminars on the subject for Pastors, teachers and other church workers and leaders so that they can be more attuned and “correct” in their teaching when those teachings start to touch on the subject of “love.” Self-esteem as taught even in our public, and yes, Christian schools today among our children bolsters this notion and conditions them for the future.
But let’s look at what the Bible tells us in Philippians chapter 2 verse 3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
Now that’s just the opposite of this new (old) teaching. In actuality the Bible continually warns against thinking too highly of ourselves. Rather, we are to esteem OTHERS more highly than ourselves. This does not mean we are to be door mats under the feet of others, no far from it. But rather, we are simply to put others first. We are to allow others the better place at the table and the better seats at the ball game. We are not to have or indulge in a ‘Me First’ type attitude.
If you have a tendency to think too highly of yourself in the things you do and the way you live life, if you tend toward the selfish, then generally you have a tendency to neglect your responsibilities and especially in the area of how you relate to others and their needs.
A person with predominate selfish tendencies may think the work they have been assigned is beneath their dignity, whether it be ministry (as in service to others) or on their everyday secular job; and so the assigned tasks go either undone or way beneath acceptability.
What’s the result? You get bad reports. You are reprimanded by your peers and employers. You develop a bad reputation. You don’t get the raise you were wanting and especially the ones you expected. You start to feel bad, but only to the degree that others don’t understand you. You believe you are picked on which further boosts your thoughts of superiority over others.
Now let me clarify something that is often so very much misunderstood. Most people think that “hate” in and of itself is the opposite of love, but hate actually derives from another characteristic; it comes from SELFISHNESS, and selfishness is actually the opposite of REAL love. Real, agape, Godly, love, is unselfish. Real love is what carries this thought, this characteristic of esteeming others above ourselves. The Lord truly knows the nature of man.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the Bible was and is, this is what is recorded in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now understand something in what our Lord spoke in this paragraph; Jesus isn’t condoning loving yourself as a character trait to develop, rather He is telling us that our love for those around us should be as the love we already give ourselves! Because He knows the nature of man and that the nature of man will not change without spiritual help and guidance, He can state the command like He did.
So, if we choose to see the needs of others as MORE important than our own, we are more likely to work hard to accomplish those things we know we must do for the benefit of others. Then, when our work is completed, and only then can we feel “good” about the job that we have accomplished; not however in a prideful way, but in the sense that we HAVE accomplished something worthwhile for someone else without thought of any further gain on our part!
I challenge you, if you haven’t walked in the attribute that I have just laid before you for some time, then try it; I guarantee you’ll see what I mean and you will develop a totally different perspective toward everyone around you!
“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” – Mark 10:27.
Thank You and God Bless You Richly!