Family and Home
By W E Miller
What can be done by a Christian who has a poor self-image?
- I am saved; and yet I have a poor self-image. Shouldn’t a Christian who has a poor self-image?
A self-image is the evaluation that a person makes of himself in comparison to some standard, or the way that he has come to think about himself habitually.
A person’s self-image may be good or bad. In contrast, the theory of “self-love” teaches that a person should “accept himself,” “feel good” about himself, or feel that he is a “significant” person, without regard to his behavior.
It is important to remember that the Scriptures do not teach that it is necessary to love oneself in order to love others.
Instead, the self-love that the world teaches as being necessary in order to love others in condemned by the Scriptures (see II Tim. 3:2).
Cannot Be Wrong
Some Christians, in combating the erroneous teachings of self-love.” And in an attempt to help Christians, who have a poor self-image, teach that a Christian should not even have a self-image. This idea comes from a misunderstanding of the command to deny oneself (see Mark 8:34). Of course, to deny oneself means to deny self-will (the personal will that opposes God’s will).
If a Christian is to have no self image, how can he evaluate his performance against God’s standard, and how will he know what to change in his life?
Some, who teach the “no self-image” doctrine, say that everything that believers do is totally of God, because we can do nothing without Him (see John 15:5)).
But the Apostle Paul had truth in balance when he acknowledged both the enabling power of God in his life and his own efforts (se 1 Cor.15:10). He evaluated his work, gave credit to God, and gave himself a good grade too. He had a good self-image (see II Tim. 4:7).
Jesus, the only perfect man had a self-image; so it cannot be wrong to have a self-image. He evaluated His life; and He told others that He measured up to the perfect standard. He said, “I do always those things that please Him.” (see John 8:29
God Has Given
Perhaps the most complete teaching on self-image is in Romans 12. notice the order of the teaching: 1) Presenting (v.1) one’s body a living sacrifice. 2) developing (v. 2) a renewed mind that can determine the will of God, and 3) evaluating (v 3) personal performance in the light of the will of God (v.2) and individual talents or gifts (v.3).
Thus, the basis of the Christian’s self-image is a self-evaluation of personal performance in comparison to gifts of talents that God has given him (“according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”—Rom 12:3) and his knowledge of the will of God that comes with a renewed mind.
When a Christian has a poor self-image, it may be an accurate self-evaluation of his Christian walk, and it may be that God is working through his conscience to promote biblical changes God wants to say. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” At the Judgment Seat of Christ. So, in His goodness and love, God wants sinning Christians to hurt badly enough to change!
However, some Christians have a poor self-image that is not an accurate self-evaluation. Often the primary reason for their poor self image is that they have a worldly value system by which they measure themselves.
The world says that you must be wealthy, powerful, beautiful, intelligent, an outstanding musician, a good athlete, some type of prominent person, or you just do not measure up. After being raised in the influence of the world, which often includes large daily doses of TV, many Christians develop this same value system. Their idea of importance (and consequently what is required for a good self image) is almost identical to that which the world reaches.
In addition, too often, individual Christians, parents, the church and
Para church organizations unwittingly teach the same worldly value system.
Christian parents can help by modeling and teaching a biblical value system. But if parents have a worldly value system, most likely their children will develop a worldly value system too.
The church and
Para church organizations can help by 1) teaching a biblical value system. 2) deemphasizing (putting into biblical perspective) things of the world (even sports), and 3) avoiding the trap of unintentionally teaching a worldly value system (for instance using people of worldly prominence, or using worldly programs as “bait” for accomplishing good goals).
Another cause of a poor self-image in children, and later when they become adults, is no acceptance of their childhood accomplishments by their parents. If parents are perfectionists and their child grows up not being able to please his parents, he may grow up thinking that he is inferior (a poor self-image).
The work of a child should be judged on the abilities of that child and his physical and mental development. A child of five years should be expected to make his bed like a five year old makes a bed, not like an adult.
Many who have been raised without having their parents’ approval of their deed also have a problem in being able to believe that they can please God.
God does not expect a five-year old child to make a bed like an adult: and He does not expect babes in Christ to achieve perfection in their walk in a day. Of course, this does not mean that He approves of a sinful behavior. Instead, it means that He is pleased with progressive growth. He is pleased every time that a Christian says “no” to temptation, and He is pleased when there is repentance and confession of sins.
One evening a teacher was teaching the two-and-three-year old children about Noah and the ark. He gave the children crayons to color a picture of the ark and pictures of animals to stick on the picture. The parents were pleased when they see the work of their toddlers, even though some of the elephants, giraffes and tigers were upside down in the air above the ark. I believe that God was pleased with their work too!
If you have a poor (but accurate) self-image because your performance is poor in comparison to the opportunities and talents that God has given you, then make biblical changes.
If you have a poor (but inaccurate) self-image based on worldly standards, then develop your spiritual life (see
12:1), let God transform your value system (see Rom. 12:2), and then rate yourself accurately (see Rom. 12:3). Rom.
Accept and develop the gifts that God has given you—it is not likely that God has gifted you to do all things well. He wants to say “well done” as you develop your gifts to His glory.
Some who have not had parental approval have a problem of not approving of their worn work. Remember, God is pleased if you did the job for Him, and if you did it in accordance with your abilities (whether or not you are pleased with the quality of your work). And if He is pleased, you should be too.
Perhaps you do not “feel that you can please God, or you do not “feel” that you do please Him, even though you believe that your performance is relatively satisfactory in accordance with your abilities and opportunities.
If this is your problem, select one project each day (perhaps s simple duty that you do every day) and dedicate it to God. Use these steps:
1) Pray and dedicate the job to God
2) Do the job with the speed, accuracy, etc. that would please God, and with the attitude that you are doing it to please Him (heartily as unto the Lord—see
3:23,24); and Col
3) Pray and tell God that :
a) you did it for Him.
b) you did a good job, and
c) you know (intellectually) that He is pleased (see Micah 6:8).
Another source of problems with self-image is nothing more than self-image is nothing more than self-centeredness, including selfishness and pride. As an antidote, love God (dedicate yourself to doing God’s will), and love your neighbor (dedicate yourself to doing good for your neighbor) in like manner as you are already looking out for your own interests (see Matt. 22:37-39).
Now, a word of warning about undue introspection. Some Christians become too introspective. Make those changes that God is urging you to make, concentrate on pleasing God and serving others, and have confidence in God’s promise that He is going to continue working in your life to bring you to spiritual maturity (see Phil. 1:6). Live with confidence in Him!
If there are things in your life that displease God, then you should be displeased with that part of your life. But, if God is pleased with your overall spiritual growth then you should be pleased with yourself (have a good self-image) as you strive to more perfectly do His will. END