In the March magazine, David Oliver quoted a Christian writer. “Our obsession with self has led us astray into the temple of idols.” The “Me” generation did not only live in the 60’s.
Humility, submission, lowliness, meekness, modesty, pride, self esteem, aggressiveness, depression, self confidence, oppression: are these merely words in conflict? It is more likely that the contradiction in them is a basic difference in how we view ourselves, the world and our estimate of the Lord Jesus, His life and teaching.
A humanistic society is characterized by the pride of man, the belief that this life is all there is and if man develops all his inner potential, we can “be as gods”. This lie reaches back to Eden, but in this day, it is couched in the language of the educated, the sophisticated and the successful.
Many large corporations use psychological programs to develop the full potential of their staffs which are merely different forms of super self confidence and self exaltation. We are more influenced by these ideas than we think. Even some Evangelical teachers espouse this philosophy and it sounds so logical that we can be confused. The most basic question is, “Am I motivated by love for sell or for the Lord Jesus?” Again we remind ourselves, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
There are people so lacking in self esteem that they cannot function in the normal activities of life and fear failure in every task. The balance of scriptural teaching is “every man not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly” (Rom 12:3). A right estimate of the Lord Jesus (V 1-2) will allow me to have a right estimation of self.
Even a Job, an Elijah or a John Baptist had times of discouragement, even depression. None are immune, but if depression makes us incapable of performing normal functions, then it is time to seek professional help. This is physical sickness and can be treated by a physician or a specialist recommended by him.
Self Confidence and Pride
It should give us serious cause to question the world’s values when it says “great self confidence leads to great success.” The Bible completely condemns trust in self, He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov 28:26). Mr. Archie Stewart used to remind us that pride was Satan’s condemnation, and, “Pride was the first sin, is the worst sin and the last sin to give up the ghost.” “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil, pride, and arrogancy…” (Prov 8:13). It is not difficult to hate these things when we see them in others, but do we equally hate them when they are in ourselves? We all have seen that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). Scripture makes pride the cause of all contention, “Only by pride cometh contention” (Prov 13:10).
The Lord Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt 11:29). We will never reach this moral perfection, but the final word on the subject is, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:3).