Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inside Out: The Trouble with Self Esteem Psychology

In the fourth grade, I caught the chicken pox from another girl in my class named Jennifer. It wasn't that her mother just decided to send a sick child to church. She simply didn't know her daughter could possibly catch the virus a second time (she could).

A few spots here, another couple there--they were initially easily mistaken as bug bites. But even though her body wasn't yet covered in the red whelps, they were still signs of the disease lying beneath.

While the new chicken pox vaccine may eventually eradicate this disease completely, it can't touch the spots from a disease each and every person on the face of the earth is born with--the disease of sin. Scripture tells us, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us"(1 Jn. 1:8). Romans 3:10-12 also says, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one"

As a child, I didn't understand these verses very well. I would sit with the Ten Commandments in front of me and think, "Well, I kept all those today." I wouldn't know what to confess to God, what to repent of. Obviously, I had yet to learn Jesus' teachings in Matthew 5 where He explained that anger in my heart is the equivalent to murder and lust in my heart is the equivalent to adultery.

As an adult, I still sometimes struggle with the concept that my flesh is evil. But truthfully, modern psychology is wrong and man is not basically good within himself. The new "good self esteem" programs being taught in schools are doing little more than teaching the next generation that God is wrong and sin isn't that big a part of their make-up.

Yes, the more wrinkles I earn, the easier it is for me to see myself as naturally sinful and evil.

In Evelyn Christenson's A Time to Pray God's Way, she teaches how to use Scripture to to help examine ourselves for spots of sin in our lives.

For example, Christenson writes:

Ephesians 4:28: 'Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor.'
Do you steal from your employer by doing less work, staying on the job less time than you are paid for? Do you under-pay?"

"Romans 12:11: 'Not slothful in business.'
Do you fail to pay your debts on time? Avoid paying them altogether? Do you charge more on credit cards than you can pay when due? Do you neglect to keep honest income tax records? Do you engage in any shady business deals whether as an employer or employee."

"1 Thessalonians 5:18: 'In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.'
Do you worry about anything? Have you failed to thank God for all things, the seemingly bad as well as the good? Do you neglect to give thanks at mealtime?"

Just like one of those invisible stamps that can only be seen under fluorescent light, that's the way Scripture acts. Beneath its glow, my skin looks more like a leopard than I ever knew.

How we perceive ourselves and our sin is critical in our relationship with Christ. Realizing our sin, examining our spots, and repenting--these actions are the difference between heaven and hell, between a close walk with the Father and a long-distance relationship with a tin-can phone.

(If you'd like the complete list of 20 verses / sins that Christenson gives on pp. 99-102 of her book, please email me & I'll send it. Hopefully, you'll find it as helpful as I do for rooting out sin in your life.)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jen, sure you can send me the list. Can you email it?

    I love these kinds of repentance/heart exams. We all need to exam ourselves on a regular basis...