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The right perspective
 
 

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart and test the mind. (Jer 17:9-10)

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We don't read about a lack of self-esteem in the Bible because mankind's problem is not a lack of self-esteem, but the real problem is that we humans think too much of ourselves - from hating ourselves and thinking we are not good for anything to putting ourselves on a pedestal to the point of narcissism and everything in between. What do I need? What do I want? What's wrong with me? What's right with me? I don't measure up. They don't measure up to me. I'm unfulfilled. I don't have as much as they do. I'm lacking. I deserve more. I'm the lowest of the low.

I - II!

Why in the world would the Holy Spirit remind us to focus more on self when we do such a good job of that ourselves? 

 

SELF-DEPRECATION 

Insecurity is a distorted self-love  - it's self-focused and self-absorbing 

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"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all." c.s.lewis

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A humble person isn't thinking about self, she is engaging in the conversation and in thoughts of others. 

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"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' (Mat 22:36-37)

Love the Lord "with all your mind." If our mind is continually filled with self-analyzing or self-gratification, how much room is left for thoughts about the Lord?

And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' (Mat 22:39)

Continual thoughts on self leave no room for the Lord or for our neighbor. 

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When we feel insecure about ourselves we may be tempted to  feel pressure to conform to the expectations of others and fear criticism and being unliked. While we may have a strong faith where we believe we will not "fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28), we may not be as strong as we think if we allow someone's comment to crush us because they didn't see things our way. 
 
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Feel too shy about talking to someone who you think has it all together? (Believe me, they don't - no one does.) Are you so afraid you will say the wrong thing to someone who needs encouragement, you remain quiet? Do you want to only talk to those you are use to and not go through the "stress" of meeting someone new? Do you pick and choose the smart, the wise, the wealthy, the popular, and the likable to befriend and talk to in order to build up your own feelings of self-worth?

If your perspective of your self depends on who you do or don't associate with, then you lack love. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love," (1Jn 4:18). 

Fear of others, whether it be in worry you don't measure up or in concern you must be surrounded by those you put on a pedestal in order for you, yourself to measure up carries a lack of love. If you fear strong, confident personalities you aren't loving the person enough - you are only being fearful of yourself. If you dismiss those who you believe who are beneath you and cater to those you will make you look good, you aren't loving either group - one, you don't want anything to do with and the other, you are just using.  

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"You can't love others unless you love yourself."

Baloney!  Forget that nonsense. The truth is, You can't love others unless you love Christ and keep your mind on Him and others, instead of yourself."

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"One of my main regrets in life is giving considerable thought to inconsiderate people." 

SELF-CONCEIT

Pride is a deceiver: The pride of your heart has deceived you. Obadiah 1:3 

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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2)

Do you feel the need to conform to others (even to sisters in Christ) in dress, in material goods, in personality, in likes and dislikes? Renew your mind. Understand just because the majority are of one way, doesn't make it right or even good for you. Prove what is good and acceptable to God's will and conform to Christ. 

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"But the serpent deceived me!"

(The world changed because of self-conceit) 

The serpent indeed deceived Eve (2 Cor. 11:3), but how was he able to do so? He gave her just enough truth to make disobedience disirable and tempted her to focus on her self and her importance (Gen. 3:5). Satan deviated her thoughts from God and His will, to thoughts on self, even to the point of using her husband to satisfy her self-indulgence. 

The perfection of creation broke due to self-conceit. Eve focused on self and how to fulfill her desires of her body as well as believing she could elevate her wisdom to that of God's.  "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate." (Gen 3:6)

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Don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”  ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 
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Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us--and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! (1Cor 4:6-8)
 
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Not everyone who is filled with pride has a narcissist or histrionic personality. These personalities go to an extreme to where others will have a difficult time believing the experiences you have with them because they can go way beyond normal reactions. If you live with someone who has these personality disorders or if you deal with them, you may find this website helpful. I don't know who owns the site but instead of giving practical lessons on every day living, the writer gives scripture that helps you deal with your own hurt spirit. Someone who has these personalities has a great sense of vengeance in them and if you upset them, you will pay.
 
https://biblicalperspectivesonnarcissism.com/
 
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A narcissist paints the picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people's true colors.

Think Soberly. Rom. 12:3  

 (To be of sound mind/To be in the right mind.)

Which woman is thinking soberly? 

 

I'm better than you.
  • I have more, materially.
  • I look better than you.
  • I talk better than you.
  • I know more scripture than you.
  • I understand life more than you.
  • I'm more popular than you.
  • I have a well recognized name in the "brotherhood."
  • I'm definitely more righteous than you. 

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You are better than me.
  • You have more, materially. I'm embarrassed about my clothes and house.
  • You look better than me. I feel ashamed.
  • You talk better than me. I'm going to stay quiet so I won't say something stupid.
  • You know more scripture than me so you must be a better person.
  • You understand life more than I do because you've had a much more exciting life.
  • You are more popular than me. I want to be part of your group but I'm below your standard so I'll keep to myself. 
  • You have a well recognized name in the "brotherhood," so you must be a stronger Christian.
  • You must be more righteous than me since you know more scripture, have more experience, and are well known in the church.

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For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Rom 12:3)

Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: "Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. (Exo 4:10-14)
 

If most of our thoughts are on ourselves, we are in danger. If we are worrying about ourselves, cutting ourselves down, living in fear of how we can relate to others, then we aren't thinking soberly - we aren't being rational. We deceive ourselves when we tell ourselves we don't have ability and worth. The more we tell ourselves how worthless we are, the more we will believe it. Satan has accomplished his work.

If we enjoy thinking about ourselves and how great we are, we are wrong. If our thoughts are filled with believing we are more wise, more beautiful, more popular, more socially accepted than those around us and that we are somehow on a higher plane, we have fallen into self-deceit. Our thoughts are not sound and Satan has taken control.

So how can we get out of the self-deception of self-deprecation and self-conceit? There is an overwhelming amount of spiritual exercises contained in scripture to help us, but for now, we will seek help in Romans 12:

1. Renew our minds. Think soberly. (Rom. 12:2)  Have a good self examination. Take away all pretense. This is very difficult to do when we have spent a lifetime hiding our true thoughts. We don't come out plainly and tell ourselves we are better or we are worse because we know we shouldn't think that way. We cover up our true thoughts about ourselves by allowing feelings to repress what we know to be wrong thinking. If we are thinking highly of ourselves it makes us feel good and we like being happy. We don't admit we are better, but our actions will prove that.

On the other hand, if we are demeaning ourselves when we shouldn't, after a while, it becomes a habit we actually seek. We begin to excuse bad thoughts about others and bad behavior within ourselves. We soothe our woes by trying to build ourselves up in ways that are not sound thinking as we look for faults in those we believe are better than us. We don't admit we do that, but our actions will prove we do.  

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. (2Co 13:5-6)
 

If we truly know and understand Jesus Christ is in us, why would we put ourselves higher than others when our Lord washed sinner's feet? Jesus, Himself, has called us brothers and sisters when we all are so weak and vile! Are we greater than our Lord?! Do we have the right to push people away that have less than we do? The next time we are with a sister who doesn't quite come up to par with our standard of living or perhaps she isn't as funny, as cute, as personable as we like to hang out with - go to God in your spirit and tell Him you choose not to speak to this person because you are better than her. Tell your Father you want to be entertained and have a good time so you will seek your own kind. How well do you think that will go over with God?

If we truly know and understand Jesus Christ is in us, why would we put ourselves down or someone else just because someone has more than we do? Who had less than Jesus?! He gave up heaven for us and His Father called Him worthy. Have we less than what Jesus had? He had no where to lay His head! The next time you are with a sister that has plenty of material goods and you believe she has it all together, go to God in your spirit and tell Him you choose not to speak with this woman. She has enough - she doesn't need your friendship or your encouragement. How well do you think that will go over with God? How did our Lord treat the rich young ruler?

If we understand and desire Christ to be in us, we must think as Christ and see ourselves honestly. When we do, all of us fall into the rational place of equality in Christ.

2. Pray for help. Pray to be self-aware and then to empty ourselves in Christ. Pray for self-control in our thinking - to quit thinking about ourselves, except in the area of good, honest self-examination.

3 Quit comparing ourselves to others. Of course others will have more. Some will have less. Material goods and knowledge isn't the measuring tool of our lives - God's word is. Comparing ourselves to Christ, not just in action, but in real thinking, without self-deceit, is the key.

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2Co 10:12)

4. Strive to become a servant of God's: Holy and sacrificial. (Rom. 12:1) We must be careful in our service to others. If we are thinking of ourselves too highly, we will be tempted to think we are doing our good deed to the less fortunate and we will be giving ourselves an even bigger pat on the back. This is especially true and obvious to the "less fortunate" when we have the attitude that we are so good because we are actually allowing them to be in our company. They know and can see plainly that our act of giving (in whatever form) is a demeaning act and not an action of true love.

On the other hand, if we have less and undermine ourselves, we will may not give (in any form) to those who have more because we believe they don't deserve it and are already full or the giving love we should have for them has been replaced with envy and judgment.

5. Quit conforming to the world! (Rom. 12:2) 

So what if you got nice things! So what if you're pretty and popular! 

So what if you don't have much! So what if you're not the pretty, popular one!

The Lord sets the standard, not the world. If you try and measure up to the world your entire life will be miserable. However, if you try and measure up to Christ, while we know we can't fully do so as He was perfect, the striving for completeness in Christ will bring joy, and the pressure of conforming will go away. Contentment will come, but most importantly, love will come. Rather than constantly comparing yourself to others, you will learn to appreciate them, knowing that physical gain or lack of such, doesn't matter in the world the Father created.

6.Transform into the mind of Christ.

How did Jesus think about Himself? Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Php 2:4-8)

What did Jesus think about material goods? "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6:19-21)

What did Jesus think about appearance? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Mat 6:27) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Mat 23:27-28)

What were Jesus' thoughts about being different from those around you? "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. (Mat 7:13) If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (Joh 15:18-19)

7. Love without hypocrisy, knowing we are members of one body with different functions.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (Rom 12:9-10)

If we don't like a sister because we feel envious every time we see her, we are not loving her. If we are "kind" to the sister we consider lowly and feel like she's blessed because she actually received recognition from us, we are not loving her. 

"In honor giving preference to one another." What does that mean? Let's think about it. If you'd like to respond, please submit your thoughts here: 

     
 
 
     
 
 
 
 
     

 

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The Cure for Self-Deceit: Look to Christ

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James 1:22

“But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Lk 6:46

We sit and absorb knowledge. The more we absorb, the more righteous we feel. We become an authority and that makes us feel confident in ourselves and safe. And then we begin to look outward - not towards God, but towards man. Not to serve man but to judge man. The beam in our eye grows and continues to the point of blindness, covered by the film of self-deceit. "How is it so many can't see the truth like I can?" "Because I know what's right, I must straighten out my brethren. That is my duty to use all this knowledge I have."  We're not washing feet, we are sticking our feet out to be washed.

But we who are self-demeaning are not innocent. We are willing to wash feet but do so with envy, anger, and discontentment. We think too highly of ourselves when we discriminate against those we believe have more. •

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Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. (John 13:3-5)

 

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God." This verse serves as a commentary on the thought-process of Jesus, just before He does one of His most remarkable acts. The Man who fed the hungry, healed the blind and raised the dead saved His most stunning act for the intimacy of this upper room: He is going to wash His disciples’ feet.

He—the Master, the Rabbi, the Son of God Himself—will humble Himself to do the lowliest task done typically by the lowliest servant.

Why does He do it? John tells us that He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. He knew He was come from God. And He knew that He was going back to God. In other words, the Lord was so secure in who He was, both personally and spiritually, that He had no ego to be bruised by washing feet. He had no pride to be wounded by humbling Himself in such a way.

The Bible does not teach us to have high “self esteem.” It teaches us to esteem others greater than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Jesus perfectly demonstrated that here and John tells us that Jesus’ self-respect was tempered by humility and a desire to serve. He was not insecure as a person. He was secure and humble; being the perfect object for us to emulate.

Don’t have self-esteem. Have Christ-esteem. Have “others”-esteem.

And have self-respect. Have enough of it that you are willing to humble yourself and serve others.

Matthew Martin 

 
   

http://ourhopeonline.com

September/October 2017