This is dedicated to anyone out there who isn't
sure how to walk the fine line between pride and poor self-esteem...
As I read the encouraging words in the email, I could feel the twangs of emergence as my archenemy, "Pride" began to show its ugly head.
You see, pride is one of those deeply-rooted demons that controlled my thoughts and actions my entire life, and though it has, by the power of Jesus' blood, been renounced, it continues to take advantage of every possible opportunity to remind me of its presence and the stronghold it was once allowed to have on my life.
I immediately renounced that pride, but I knew the battle wasn't yet over, and I’m sorry to admit that over the course of the next few hours, every time I stopped focusing 100% on Jesus, I would remember this particular email, and my old nemesis would again show its blood-stained claws and teeth. I don't know how many times I renounced pride that day, but I kept on fighting the good fight, and by keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, it was kept at bay.
It wasn't until the next morning, however, that my pride became bound for good on this topic. You see, there was a question left unresolved, and this question served to provide the foothold that this ugly demon needed to keep hounding me: "Is there anything wrong with feeling good about something you've accomplished?"
Whoa. Now there's a loaded question! Not feeling good about something you've done is usually a recipe for poor self-esteem, another of hell's ferocious warriors.
But when feeling good about something baits pride, what is the solution?
God gave me the answer that morning, and He did so by first of all cutting through my pride completely:
"As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one; Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.'" (Romans 3:10-18 NKJV)
The farther I read in this passage, the worse I felt, and the lower my self-esteem dropped. All of it is true! I can't deny that this is a perfect description of--me!
But wait: This text speaks of the "me-in-the-flesh," the "me-in-the-raw," the "completely naked me!" Of my own, I have no understanding. I don't even seek God. I do no good thing, my throat is like an open tomb, my tongue prattles lies, I spew forth poison from my mouth!
But there is another me, one that is saved under the blood of Jesus, one that is covered with His robe of righteousness, and this me seeks God. This me does good, speaks life into people, and shows others the way of life: "For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (Isa 61:10 NKJV).
So which "me" merits praise?
The second one, of course.
But the second "me" isn't me at all. It's Jesus shining through me. Any good thing I have ever done in my life has been thanks to Him and Him alone!
Yet despite this, I can still feel good about myself.
Because I made the choice to be covered by Jesus' robe of righteousness. Because He sees me as a lump of clay worthy of refining and shaping!
Okay, but what should I to do with compliments? I mean, how should I respond when someone reaches out in love to encourage me?
I realized that morning that I have a choice to make. In the face of praise, I can choose to stand up and absorb that praise, and this way those around me know that "I" did a good deed, or I can kneel down, point my hand to Jesus, and let the praise flow through me to Him, the One who truly deserves it.
When I make the first choice, I am falling into the grasp of pride; but when I make the second choice, although a feeling of the utmost good self-esteem washes over me, Jesus is the one illuminated and pride is forever bound on that subject.
We can thus walk the fine line between pride and poor self-esteem by being the vessel that points all praise to Jesus. And friends, there is no better sense of self-worth than when you have accomplished something for the Lord, and then give Him the praise!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.