July 23, 1996
She is slim, fifteen, with a deep tan and the face and form of a model. She stands every day before her mirror hearing inner voices tell her she is unlovable, unacceptable and incapable. She believes what she hears and is utterly convinced she is ugly.
Unless people feel loved, valued and competent, good looks will not make them feel like “beautiful” people. A low opinion of one’s self goes far deeper than what is seen in a mirror. On the surface, being loved may be counted by how many friends a person has or how many lovers, but most who measure themselves that way still feel unloved, even if they have many friends.
Others measure personal value by the size of their bank account, house or car, or by educational credits or other forms of accomplishment. These standards, while perfectly acceptable as goals, have a fatal flaw toward giving a sense of personal value. They are based on comparison. The savings account has to be larger than . . . or the car newer than... or faster than some other one.
If achievement is the measurement, any athlete will tell you that any ultimate award, gold medal, or trophy loses its glitter. The soul is soon dissatisfied with whatever mark was set or whatever record broken. Either new heights must be reached or self-esteem suffers.
Some say a positive self-worth is simply a decision to like yourself. Perhaps that works for a time, but any personal decision must involve changing one’s values. Self-image must be based on something more substantial than personal opinion.
From God’s perspective, a healthy self-esteem includes balance. Christians know two things. One, we are created in the image of God and have potential to be like Christ. Two, that image has been marred by sin, but through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, sin can be forgiven, cleansed and conquered. It is in being as God intended that we find our true self-image and enjoy a positive, healthy, yet balanced attitude about ourselves.
In regard to attaining self-esteem through godliness, it is important to understand what godliness is and what it is not. Godliness is not a holier-than-thou lifestyle. Rather, it is refusing to make one’s self the center of all things. Instead, the needs and concerns of others are the priority, just as they are a priority for God.
To be like that, a person needs to understand and experience the love of God. It is unearned, undeserved, and unconditional. Further, it lasts. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
When we know His love through faith in His Son, our self-esteem is bolstered. We are set free from trying to win the love of others and then become able to love them as God loves us.
Second, we need to understand our worth. Simply put, we are worth the price God was willing to pay for us — the live of His only begotten Son. This worth is established forever because it is based on an event fixed in history and apart from anything we do or have done.
Third, we need to understand our competence. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Those who trust Christ can make the same claim. Our competence is not in ourselves but in the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We need not compare His capabilities with others because there is no comparison. Our sense of adequacy in Him dissolves our fears of failure and defeat.
The girl who hates her image in the mirror can learn to love it and herself by finding a true sense of worth in Christ. She needs to take to Him her fears of being unloved, unworthy and unable because only He can give us a deep sense of pleasure in who we are and who we can be.