The Power of

Self Esteem: Bible Proof

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By Grantley Morris

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Bible & Self-Esteem

For all their lives, the Israelites had been slaves. Their parents had been slaves. Their grandparents had been slaves. Their great-grandparents had been slaves . . . (Genesis 15:13). Yet, even beyond being the lowest of the low, they had been so despised and oppressed that they had been forced to keep killing every baby boy they gave birth to (Exodus 1:15-16,22). Finally, they fled – with an enraged Egyptian army hot on their tail.

Now they were runaway slaves; a rabble of homeless refugees with a price on their heads; forced to wander in the wilderness with not even the basic food and water they had had as slaves (Exodus 15:22-23; Numbers 11:5-6).

They could have chosen to see themselves as God’s special people; amazingly delivered from a powerful, now-defeated army; miraculously led and fed by Almighty God and divinely prepared and trained to be victors. Instead, they languished in their former self-image; choosing to believe their past rather than what the God of truth declared them to be now:

    Exodus 19:5-6 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. . . . you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

    Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

    Deuteronomy 26:19 He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.

    Deuteronomy 28:7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

    Leviticus 26:7-8 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.

Rather than believe what God said they were, they projected their feelings of inferiority onto what they imagined was going on inside the minds of God’s enemies; mistakenly imagining everyone saw the Israelites the way the Israelites saw themselves. “They are giants and we are like grasshoppers to them,” they claimed (Numbers 13:32-33).

Preferring to believe God’s enemies rather than God himself would be atrocious enough but, appallingly, even the ungodly had a more godly view of God’s chosen people than God’s chosen had of themselves. Even after God’s disobedient people had suffered a humiliating military defeat (Numbers 14:44-45), these pagans not only did not see the Israelites as “grasshoppers,” one of them (Rahab) confessed, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:9-11).

A self-image that does not line up with spiritual truth is such a dangerous delusion that it distorts our perception of everything.

Their atrocious self-esteem was not humility but a gross insult to the Holy Lord who had redeemed them and believed in them and dwelt with them. Their self-image incited not sympathy but God’s dismay as they refused to believe that with God they could achieve what he said they could achieve. As a direct result, they ended up wandering homeless for forty long years until that entire generation died in the dusty desert (Numbers 14:29-35), except for two men (Numbers 14:24,38; Numbers 32:11-12). “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it,” said Caleb, but the others replied, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:30-31). Joshua and Caleb, the two who were spared, had the same past and current circumstances as the others but they refused to be dominated by their past, nor by put-downs, nor by what everyone else said, and by so doing they glorified God and won for themselves eternal glory.

It is exceedingly difficult to believe God when it is totally contrary to everything our past experience and mindsets keep screaming at us, but it still remains our choice. Not believing God has disastrous consequences, and the bigger the difference between what we believe about ourselves and what God believes about ourselves, the more critical it is that we force ourselves to believe God who is always right.

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Bible & Self-Esteem