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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Smorgasbord of Fictitious Doctrine

 

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Church-Index
 

Self-Esteem and The Christian

Carol Brooks

INDEX

Introduction
The California Self-Esteem Task Force
Humanistic Psychology In The Church
The Bible - Who They Thought They Were
The Father's Response to "Negative Self-image" Declarations
The Consequences of Over The Top Positive Affirmations in Scripture
Whatever Happened to Humility?
Matthew 22:39
Christians And a Healthy Self Image

 

Introduction
According to the Free Dictionary, self esteem can mean - respect for or a favorable opinion of oneself. However, it is the second possible meaning of the phrase - an unduly high opinion of oneself; vanity - that seems to more nearly define the word as it is used today

There is little question that we are a self-absorbed society - the pursuit of self an end in itself. We are bombarded from the cradle to the grave by feel good philosophies and mantras that promote self-acceptance, self-worth, self-love etc. - all of which seem to have become society's antidote for whatever ails you. We are assured that success in life - academic success, making friends, a happy marriage, and a successful career are all dependent on positive self-esteem.

Popular positive affirmations include  "You just need to love and accept yourself the way you are... You just need to forgive yourself.. You are a valuable lovable person who should feel good about yourself.

There are those on the opposite side of the spectrum that see the movement of self esteem as simply pride in another garb - humanism invading the church. They believe that man is less than the dirt on the surface of this earth, is totally depraved and has no intrinsic self worth whatsoever.. This extreme view holds that any love of the self is morally wrong. (See The Myth of Original Sin and Reated Articles on THIS Page)

The truth lies somewhere in between..

But where did all this start? 


The California Self-Esteem Task Force

John Vasconcellos is considered to be the father of the self-esteem movement.

In 1986 the eccentric and powerful California politician managed to persuade a deeply sceptical Republican state governor to fund a three-year task force to explore the value of self-esteem. Vasco was convinced that low self-esteem was the source of a huge array of social issues, including unemployment, educational failure, child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and gang warfare and that raising the population's self-esteem would act as a "social vaccine", saving the state billions. [01]

The mission statement of the task Force was to

    Seek to determine whether self-esteem, and personal and social responsibility are the keys to unlocking the secrets of healthy human development so that we can get to the roots of and develop effective solutions for major social problems and to develop and provide for every Californian the latest knowledge and practices regarding the significance of self-esteem & personal and social responsibility.

What they wanted was proof of what John Vasconcellos already believed, i.e. more self-esteem would drastically reduce the epidemic levels of social problems society faced (and continues to face), particularly in regard to

  • 1. Crime, violence and recidivism.
  • 2. Alcohol and drug abuse.
  • 3. welfare dependency.
  • 4. Teenage pregnancy.
  • 5. Child and spousal abuse.
  • 6. Children failing to learn in school.

Seven professors from the University of California researched the above areas and the eighth professor summarized the results which were published in a book titled The Social Importance of Self-Esteem that supposedly confirmed Vasco's ideas.

    Four months after the launch of Toward A State Of Esteem, the papers were reporting that self-esteem was "sweeping through California's public schools", with 86% of the state's elementary school districts and 83% of high school districts implementing self-esteem programmes. In Sacramento, students began meeting twice a week to decide how to discipline other students; in Simi Valley, kids were taught, "It doesn't matter what you do, but who you are.” Political leaders from Arkansas to Hawaii to Mississippi began considering their own task forces.

    As the months became years, the self-love movement spread. Defendants in drug trials were rewarded with special key chains for appearing in court, while those who completed treatment were given applause and doughnuts. Children were awarded sports trophies just for turning up; a Massachusetts school district ordered children in gym classes to skip without actual ropes lest they suffer the self-esteem catastrophe of tripping. Meanwhile, police in Michigan seeking a serial rapist instructed the public to look out for a thirty something male with medium build and "low self-esteem". [02]

Unfortunately, few realized the extent of the lie that the 'results' were based on and that, in fact, no cause and effect link was found.

    "Vasco’s plan backfired spectacularly, with the fallout lasting to this day ... there was, at the heart of his project, a lie. [03]

Much to the contrary,  more recent studies indicate a definite relationship between violent behavior and high self-esteem.

This actually makes sense. People who have too high an opinion of themselves often have a sense of entitlement, tend to believe that they are smarter than everyone else, that they can 'get away with it', etc. However, the belief in a high self-esteem has persisted to this day. Googling the term "self-esteem' will bring up an uncountable number of articles that advise you on how to build your self-confidence and improve you self esteem,

Please note that I am not blind to the fact that all too many people have been made to feel inferior or inadequate by often sad circumstances. For example, childhood trauma, cold or uncaring parenting, poor past choices, a physical disability, cruel remarks etc. all bear their share of blame for people feeling less than they should - Unwanted teen pregnancies are often a side effect of wanting to feel loved. People who were bullied as children are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem and can become promiscuous.

What ever the initial cause the effect on their future lives can be extremely significant because many carry these feeling well into adulthood.  Sadly, too little self-regard can cause eating disorders and depression and even lead people to tolerate abusive relationships. Additionally, in our day and age, the pressure to be conventionally good-looking is so strong that anyone who perceives themselves as falling short of the 'perfect' mark feels ugly and insecure.

Unfortunately, while there is NO question that problems such as these definitely need to be dealt with, more of the emphasis seems to be on encouraging people to have an unduly high opinion of themselves. Few seem to have a "balanced idea of what self-esteem actually is, or differentiate between 

     research-based knowledge on self-esteem and the simplified popular psychology theories that are disseminated through books and motivational talks. [04]


Humanistic Psychology In The Church
Unfortunately, a vast number of Christians have jumped on the bandwagon of humanistic psychology and set up their own cheering section, stressing the value and goodness of human beings. Few seem to use the Bible as a guide, relying instead on feel-good pop psychology -just as much of the rest of the world does. Apparently, even some Christians believe that every virtually every problem that plagues us can be solved if only we help people to realize their great self-worth, esteem themselves more highly, and love themselves more.

Robert Schuller: So called Christian leaders like Robert Schuller, have spearheaded the movement to set man up on his own private pedestal. In fact Schuller's interpretation of key Biblical doctrines all revolved around self-esteem. For example, he once wrote "Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem". More of Schuller’s Quotes HERE

James Dobson: One of today's most recognized Christian radio programs - Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family broadcast, that has been running for 4 decades, enthusiastically touts self-esteem, as do his many of his extremely popular books. In fact, the central focus in many of Jim Dobson's writings is the belief that low self-esteem is the cause of the world's problems. That the greatest need of women of the world is a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth.

    "If I could write a prescription for the women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth ... I have no doubt that this is their greatest need" [05]. And more of the same ad infinitum.

And so the movement has crept, nay galloped, through the flock. As said by Bible Discernment Ministries,

    Because he professes Christianity and promotes family values, many people assume that Dobson's teachings on self-esteem are Biblical, but they can be found nowhere in the Bible unless Scripture is bent to fit". [06]

And bend it they do. An article on Today's Christian Woman site is entitled Need a Confidence Boost? It says

    Low self-esteem has become the number-one issue plaguing Christian women. Despite God's assurance that he's absolutely crazy about us, most of us can't believe he means us. [07]

And a second article states that when the Messiah came,

    He loved to tell stories about God's longing heart. Jesus compared God and His lost children to a woman who searched for her precious lost coin, and to a shepherd who was so desperate to find one wayward sheep that he left all the other sheep to search for it and bring it home (Luke 15:1–10).  Finally, Jesus said, God's longing for His lost children was like a father who had lost his son, a father who would never give up and who would give absolutely anything to have his boy come home (vv. 11–32). [08]

The problem with these two statements is in Footnote I



The Bible - Who They Thought They Were
If our self-image is so crucial to our well-being, one would imagine that God would have said something about it in His Scriptures.

He didn't.

However, examining how some of the stalwarts of the Bible thought of themselves might be an eye opener, simply because none of God's servants had what we call today - a 'healthy self-image'. Much to the contrary, many of them didn't think very highly of themselves.  For example, both Abraham and John the Baptist saw themselves as less than nothing when it came to God

    Abraham: And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. (Genesis 18:27 NASB)

    John The Baptist: "It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." (John 1:27 NASB)

The following three examples are of people who had a divine mission - specifically instructed to do something. Remember that Moses is one of the most revered figures in the Old Testament. It was he who God chose Moses to free the Israelites from slavery and receive the Law on Mount Sinai - probably the most significant events in Judeo-Christian history.

    Moses: When the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush, and told him to go the Pharaoh and persuade him to give the Israelites their freedom, Moses tried very hard to back out. He was very reluctant to undertake a mission of this magnitude because, as he said, he had never been eloquent, but was slow of speech and tongue.

      But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11 NASB)

      Then Moses said to the Lord, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." (Exodus 4:10 NASB)

    Gideon: When God told Gideon that he would save his people from the Midianites, like Moses, Gideon did not believe he was able.

      He said to Him (An angel of the Lord) , "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house." (Judges 6:15 NASB)

    Paul: For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9 NASB)


The Father's Response to "Negative Self-image" Declarations
What is particularly to be noted is how the Lord responded to these "negative self-image" declarations? He did not lavish praise on them, nor tell them to affirm their positive qualities and focus on their strong points. In both cases, the Father told them one thing and one thing only - that He would be with them. He told Gideon

     "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man." (Judges 6:16 NASB)

And Moses:

    And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain." (Exodus 3:12 NASB)

 And when Moses protested that he was not eloquent of speech, the Lord gently reprimanded him

    "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? "Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say." (Exodus 4:11-12 NASB)

Paul
Paul realized that it was by the grace of God that he was what he was

    But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NASB)

Paul also said that the Lord gave him a thorn in his flesh to keep him from, as he expressed it, 'exalting himself'.

    Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! (2 Corinthians 12:7 NASB)

Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn, but was told that the Lord's grace was sufficient for him for His power was "perfected in weakness." And the apostle went on to write

    "... therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB)

Boasting about a weakness? Now there's a new one for the self esteem crowd.


The Consequences of Over The Top Positive Affirmations in Scripture
The Daughters of Zion
There was a time when the daughters of Zion, apparently obsessed with finery, proudly walked with "heads held high and seductive eyes,". They went along with "mincing steps" tinkling the bangles on their feet. (Isaiah 3:16)

Although they seemed highly pleased with themselves, the Lord was not. Their obsession with their appearance, their love of luxury, and their promiscuity made them targets of the Lord's  judgment. See Verses 17-26

As Peter said much later,

    Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB)

The Pharisee and The Tax Collector
The Pharisee certainly thought well of himself

    "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' (Luke 18:11-12 NASB)

The tax collector had a very different attitude -

    "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' (Luke 18:13 NASB)

Jesus' verdict?

     "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14 NASB)

The Laodiceans
shared the Pharisee's opinion. They believed themselves to be rich, wealthy and not in need of anything,

And what did the Lord say to this particular congregation?

He warned that they did not know they were "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" and, because they were also lukewarm in their faith, would spit them out of His mouth. 

The 'Babylon' of The End Times
Revelation 17 and 18 are a crucial warning dealing as they do with specific targets of the wrath of God. They are not a literal city, but two faces of the same coin that operate in opposition to the everything God stands for. See The Wrath of God

Chapter 17 deals with the spiritual side of Babylon - a false religious system. Chapter 18 deals with Babylon as an economic, commercial system that is only concerned with material prosperity and indulging the self ... growing fat at the expense of many. Both chapters tell us that this "city" is in bed with and reigns over the kings of the earth. Both are adorned in almost exactly the same finery, both are responsible for the deaths of countless numbers of faithful. And both boasted up six storms.

The result in God's words,

    "To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as a queen and i am not a widow, and will never see mourning.' "For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. (Revelation 18:7-8 NASB)

See Two Babylons - Part IV... Revelation Chapter 18

Nebuchadnezzar
certainly wasn't plagued by self-doubt or a lack of self-worth. One day when he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he looked around him and thought

    "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' (Daniel 4:30 NASB)

Modern pop psychologists would probably applaud his positive self-image particularly because Babylon was one of the most spectacular cities of the time, boasting the famed hanging gardens' that Nebuchadnezzar built. However, while this may have impressed man, it did not the Lord who "while the word was in the king's mouth" told the king that sovereignty had been removed and the king would be driven away from mankind, forced to dwell with the beasts of the field.

     You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.' "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws. (Daniel 4:31-33 NASB)
     

Three Other Kings

The King of Assyria definitely did not suffer from low self esteem. In fact, he had a such well inflated view of himself

    For he has said, "By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, For I have understanding; And I removed the boundaries of the peoples And plundered their treasures, And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants, And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; And there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped." (Isaiah 10:13-14 NASB)

that he confidently boasted that as other cities had fallen before him, so would Jerusalem. 

    "As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images Just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?" (Isaiah 10:10-11 NASB)

The Lord's response?

    He will say, "I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness." (Isaiah 10:12 NASB)

The King of Babylon displayed the ultimate in self esteem. The egotistical monarch's boasts were extravagant and pretentious. 

    "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' (Isaiah 14:13-14 NASB)

However God had a different fate in mind for the insolent potentate. He said the king would experience both the collapse of his kingdom and the loss of his life. He would be brought down to Sheol (Vs. 15), at which the inhabitants would wonder if this was the man who shook kingdoms and made the earth tremble (Isaiah 14:15-16 NASB) See Sheol

The King of Tyre:  By trading wisely the king of Tyre had increased his riches and acquired gold and silver for his treasuries. However, his heart was "lifted up" to the extent he claimed to be god and sit in "the seat of gods". (Ezekiel 28:2-5)

The Lord's response?

    Therefore thus says the Lord God, 'Because you have made your heart Like the heart of God, Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, The most ruthless of the nations. And they will draw their swords Against the beauty of your wisdom And defile your splendor. 'They will bring you down to the pit, And you will die the death of those who are slain In the heart of the seas. 'Will you still say, "I am a god," In the presence of your slayer, Though you are a man and not God, In the hands of those who wound you? 'You will die the death of the uncircumcised By the hand of strangers, For I have spoken!' declares the Lord God!"'" (Ezekiel 28:7-10 NASB)


Note however, that Ezekiel's language does seem to transcend mere mortality. In verses 14-15, the king of Tyre is described as the anointed Cherub who was was perfect in every way when he walked upon the holy mountain of God - until evil was found in him. See Is Lucifer Another Name For Satan?


Whatever Happened to Humility?
All of the people mentioned above forgot one thing - they forgot humility. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar had to be so mortified before he came to his senses was because he was king of one the greatest empires of old.

What's our excuse? Especially when the New Testament says things like

    For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3 NASB)

    For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7 NASB)

Have we not read the book of James in which he wrote

    "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6 NASB)

Do we not find it significant that when Paul outlined the traits that would characterize people in the end times, the first one he mentioned was

    "men will be lovers of self". (2 Timothy 3:1-2 NASB)

Note also that true humility is not thinking less of ourselves than what we are, but having an honest and realistic appraisal of who we truly are.


Matthew 22:39
When asked which was the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied

     'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:37-39 NASB)

All too many misinterpret this verse. Jesus did not command us to love our neighbour and ourselves, but as ourselves. In other words, He took it for granted that we care about ourselves and commanded us to care equally about the well-being of others. Scripture recognizes that everyone already cares for themselves, and tells us to use it as the standard by for how we treat and view others.

Similarly, Ephesians 5:28 says

    So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

Paul was telling husbands to love their wives as they already love themselves.


Christians And a Healthy Self Image
In other words, the Bible does not forbid us to think well of ourselves, but warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. The issue is a matter of degree - Love of self is natural unless it runs to excess We are warned to keep our self-esteem under control and exhorted to rise above ourselves and serve God and our fellow man.

One problem is that the word self-love can mean two things - self-acceptance or self-centeredness.

     A self-centered self-image is when we feel (or try to feel) good about ourselves based on who we are, what our status is, what we've done, and/or what we own. 

While there is no question that none of us are perfect and sometimes wish that we are a little better looking, or just that bit smarter or talented, we need to find a view of ourselves that endures regardless of all the negativity that life can (and will) throw at us. We need to thoroughly grasp who we really are, and what our true place in this universe is.

     A healthy self-image comes from knowing whom you belong to and who He says you are - that you are loved and that you are in His hands. This should give you confidence, build your strength, and satisfy your need to belong.

For Christians this begins with the realization of two things

1) Each One of Us Was Created in "God's Image".
Theologians have wrestled long and hard with the term "image of God" simply because it is a difficult expression to precisely understand. What it does not mean is that man is divine. The Hebrew word (tselem) translated "image" means a resemblance - a representative figure. This is supported by the Old Testament's use of the word in which it is often used for idols.

In other words, man is a physical representation, not a physical reproduction of God. He, like God, can see, hear, smell, touch, speak, think, etc. However, many in the animal kingdom can not only do most of those very well. In fact their physical abilities often surpass ours. What distinguishes us is the fact that man is also a spiritual being - that intangible factor that concerns the spirit or soul, rather than the material and physical. Humans also have a conscience and are able to make moral judgments.

Simply put, the fact that only humans were created in "God's image" gives us a value way beyond the rest of creation. As said by Ron Sider (All Emphasis Added)

    Every part of God's creation is very good and very special because it results from the loving design of Almighty God ... As persons created in the divine image we are very special. The dignity and worth of every human being flows from the divine decree, not human decision. Our essential dignity does not come from government fiat, social usefulness, or self-actualisation. It comes from the Creator of the galaxies who selected human beings alone out of the almost infinite multitudes of the created order to bear the divine image. No matter how poor and defenseless, old and weak, crippled and deformed, young and helpless, human beings enjoy a God-given worth and dignity that sets them apart from the rest of creation. [09]

2) Christ Died For Each One of Us
For Christians the second point is that when we look in the mirror we need to remember that the person looking back at us is someone Christ died for.

In the course of discussing various practical problems that had crept up in the Corinthian church, Paul warned that no man should use his Christian liberty if it put a stumbling block in front of a brother. And here is what he said about that 'brother'

    For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. (1 Corinthians 8:11 NASB)

How can each of us come away from these truths without 1) a sense of profound awe that we are created in His image and 2) extreme thankfulness for what Christ did for us.

True Self-Esteem
And yes! We need to be accepting of ourselves and comfortable with who we are - without vanity or self-depreciation. Because, if we are not self accepting, we spend valuable time focused inward - either in self-belittlement and/or trying to find our true identity - searching for satisfaction and meaning. We become so wrapped up in ourselves that we rarely if ever rise above the narrow and shallow confines of our own existence.

True self-esteem is free of self-delusion and self-congratulation. Self-acceptance allows us to focus outwards, so we can obey the Lord's command to "with humility of mind" regard one another as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). A life that does not revolve around ourselves allows us to focus on the glory of the One who created us.

Perhaps it is said best by

    A man should carry two stones in his pocket. On one should be inscribed, 'I am but dust and ashes.' On the other, 'For my sake was the world created.' And he should use each stone as he needs it.



Footnote I

1) In article on Today's Christian Woman site is entitled Need a Confidence Boost? Verla Wallace wrote

    Low self-esteem has become the number-one issue plaguing Christian women. Despite God's assurance that he's absolutely crazy about us, most of us can't believe he means us.  [07]

I do not know whether the "us" in this article is intended to mean Christians or the world in general. In any case, there is ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE in the Bible that says any more than God loves us, much less that He assures us that He is "crazy about us". 

John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world... ) uses the Greek agapao commonly used in the New Testament. However a simple reading of the texts that use agapao makes it clear that the word doesn't mean mushy sentimentality or even being crazy about someone or something. Rather it means having a strong concern for - or positive feeling  towards that person or thing. In the first example it would be very hard to imagine being crazy about your enemy.

    "But I say to you who hear, love (Gr. agapao) your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (Luke 6:27 NASB)

    "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved (Gr. agapao) the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19 NASB)

    in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved (Gr. agapao) His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 NASB)

    "You have loved (Gr. agapao) righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions." (Hebrews 1:9 NASB)

    Do not love (Gr. agapao) the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves (Gr. agapao) the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 NASB)

    "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love (Gr. agapao) their life even when faced with death. (Revelation 12:11 NASB)

Therefore, when the Bible says 'God loves us', let us please not delude ourselves into imagining that He thinks humans are pretty cool and gets all warm and gooey when He think of us. God's love means that He cares enough to not want us to perish. In fact, He cares so much that in His Grace (defined as unmerited favor), He gave His Son's life so that we wouldn't lose ours.

2) The second article states that when the Messiah came,

    He loved to tell stories about God's longing heart. Jesus compared God and His lost children to a woman who searched for her precious lost coin, and to a shepherd who was so desperate to find one wayward sheep that he left all the other sheep to search for it and bring it home (Luke 15:1- 10). Finally, Jesus said, God's longing for His lost children was like a father who had lost his son, a father who would never give up and who would give absolutely anything to have his boy come home (vv. 11-32). [08]

The story of the 'Prodigal Son' in the book of Luke is exactly that - a story about a prodigal son who ran away from home and squandered his inheritance. In reduced circumstances and realizing what he had done he resolved to come home and confess his wrong doing to his father. NOTHING is said about the father not giving up (although he may not have) or being willing to "give absolutely anything to have his boy come home".  The story centers around the young man as an example of how far we have wandered from our safe home.

In the parable the only thing said about the father is that when he saw the young man approaching, he felt compassion and embraced him. He also ordered a feast to celebrate the fact that his child was dead but had begun to live. [PLACE IN TEXT]

 

End Notes
[01] 'It was quasi-religious': the great self-esteem con.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/03/quasi-religious-great-self-esteem-con

[02] ibid.

[03] ibid.

[04] ScienceDaily. Popular psychology theories on self-esteem not backed up by serious research, study finds. University of Gothenburg. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301091342.htm

[05] James Dobson. What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Women, p. 35

[06] Dobson Dead Wrong about Self-Esteem. Bible Discernment Ministries, https://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/dobson/self.htm

[07] Verla Wallace. Need a Confidence Boost? Secrets on how to like yourself more.
https://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2000/may/needconfidenceboost.html

[08] Sheila Walsh. How He Longs for You - Spend 5 minutes with Jesus today.
https://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2017/march/how-he-longs-for-you.html

[09] Ron Sider. Completely Pro-Life: Building a Consistent Stance on Abortion, Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (October 1, 2010). Pg. 44)

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