The second aspect of self esteem is attaching or ascribing worth to our identities. At first thought, this seems off; doesn’t God assign our worth? The reality is that basing our worth on God’s love, amidst societal ideas of success and achievement, is an arduous process. We are finite, sinful beings and whether we realize it or not, we can often assign worth to ourselves daily through our sub conscious thoughts associated with every success, failure, disappointment or loss. Perhaps this is why the Bible speaks so much to our thought life (Rom 12:2, Phil 4:8).
Does Jesus command self- love?
Many have argued that the 2nd greatest commandment to love your neighbors as you love yourselves is a command to love ourselves. Granted, it is interesting that Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and not just well or magnificently. But this verse is not commanding us to love ourselves. However, it also does not stand to reason that Jesus is condemning it; nor is he calling us to love our neighbors selfishly and arrogantly either.
Actually the virtuous nature of love is patient, forgiving and is actually more associated with humility as opposed to arrogance. Thus, is it possible that love for oneself is more associated with patience and forgiveness for one self instead of arrogance or conceit? And, is it possible that Jesus realizes that the way we relate to ourselves affect the way we relate to others?
Seek First God’s Righteousness
Similarly, Jesus’ exhortation in the gospels is clear: seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be added to you (in reference to basic needs, clothing, food, shelter etc.). However, throughout the gospels Jesus emphasizes inner holiness, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, and condemns the superficial holiness and self righteousness of the Pharisees.
Furthermore, the Bible makes it clear that the foundation of our righteousness is God’s grace (1 Cor. 3:10-13; 1 Jn 4:19). The more that we seek and find fulfillment through our relationship with God, the less likely we will seek the instant gratifications and pseudo fulfillments from worldly things, prideful attitudes or unhealthy relationships.
A Godly sense of worth??
So then is there a sense of worth that God wants for his disciples or calls us to? What does the Bible say? Are we called to a specific or idealistic emotional life?? Certainly the gospel calls us towards greater humility and self denial. Paul encourages us to seek the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Furthermore, I would argue that throughout his epistles Paul calls believers to live a life of interdependence: confessing and bearing each other’s burdens, encouraging one another, offering our gifts and talents to the greater body of Christ. While self love is not explicitly commanded, it is the fruit of a Godly sense of worth that tells us that our adequacy and worth comes from God.