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How should we view self-esteem?

(The following is the March 7 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Luke 3 and pay close attention to verses 15-16.)

Do you have high or low self-esteem or somewhere in between? From today's passage, how would you rate John the Baptist’s understanding of himself? Self-esteem is not the point of the verses, but a related lesson is still worth learning.

When John preached, hearers wondered if John was the Messiah. John said of Jesus, “I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals” (v. 16). Later, Jesus said of John, “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). How do we reconcile these seemingly contrary views about John?

John was correct about being unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. No human is worthy. Jesus was also right in what he said of John. In the history of the prophets, John was the last to point forward to Christ and the only one allowed to interact with – even baptize – the incarnate Son of God. What a privilege.

Our world is quick to tell us we should have high self-esteem. Books, webinars, articles, motivational speeches, and social media posts promote thinking highly of oneself. But how should Christians with a biblical worldview see themselves? Regarding spiritual gifts, Paul wrote, “I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think” (Rom. 12:3). Our goal should be neither high nor low self-esteem, but an accurate one according to what God says about us in his Word. When we see ourselves as God sees us, we will be comfortable recognizing our sinful former nature while rejoicing that God has made us new creations in Christ. Thanks to God's grace and goodness, we are now saints and children of the King.

Next Step:

Do you sometimes struggle with your self-esteem? Consider the Bible’s teaching about who you were before knowing Christ and who you are now in Christ. Does this change how you understand yourself?

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