God Hates Self-Esteem

Finding the word, idea, or even a synonym for “self-esteem” in the Bible is harder to find than a leprechaun in China. It’s a magic pot-o’-gold that many evangelicals have married, hung their theological hats upon (ahem, Pelagians), ten thousand times preached upon, and based entire books and sets of curricula upon without ever finding it in the Scriptures. Probably because they didn’t want to.

Which is why I’m writing this post. Though I once saw a church try to “correct” this error by affixing “Christ-centered” before the phrase “self-esteem,” such lyrical hypocrisy does no good when the Bible stampedes through.

So, as I’ve said in public many times, the way our culture and many churches use “self-esteem” has no biblical warrant at all. In fact, it has much the opposite. God hates self-esteem. He despises it. He says things like:

  • In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4)
  • The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
    Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
    and perverted speech I hate.(Proverbs 8:4)
  • “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
    who acts with arrogant pride. (Proverbs 21:24)
  • For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of
    himself more highly
    than he ought to think, but to think with sober
    judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)

And you might say, “But, wait, doesn’t God want us to like ourselves?” Or you might throw a biblical tank-top over it: “Doesn’t God want us to enjoy His image in us?” Or you might even try a scriptural suckerpunch with: “Loving ourselves is a command. It’s the second greatest commandment.”

But those responses are all the same. Our American mindset is so wildly, so blatantly, so self-blindingly me-me-me-me-centered that we take even the plainest of scriptural anti-pride warnings, the stamping of the image of God, and the neighbor-love command and turn them on their head, bloody nose and all. We are the robbers, hiding in the bushes, waiting to beat the student-traveler. The Bible is the Good Samaritan.

But there ought never to have been a beating on our wandering friends, and by the church, no less.

God hates self-esteem for good reason: it is a wicked offense, an unholy hatred, a dirty desire against His holy name. Psalm 10:4 says that pride speaks only, “There is No God.” But that, friends, is a lie. The Living God will not wait long to hear it. He will return.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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