What do you think of yourself? Chances are that the way you look at yourself is a real paradox. In some ways, we hold ourselves in very high esteem. There has been and is considerable emphasis in this society on self-esteem. In some ways, we hold ourselves in contempt. There has been and is considerable contempt in this society for failure. If we focus on self-esteem, we think about our value. If we focus on our failures, we hold ourselves in contempt.

If we look at ourselves through glasses that magnify our value, we tend to be arrogant and presumptuous. If we look at ourselves through glasses that see only our weakness, we tend to be defeated and believe we are worthless.

The problem: most of us tend to move in one of those two directions. Being a Christian does not make us immune to the problem. Either we tend to have such a high opinion of ourselves that we seek to control and dominate everyone. Or, we feel so inferior that we have no confidence.

God challenges us to have His view of us. The closer we come to God, the more we change the way we look at ourselves. The more we change the way we look at ourselves, the more we change the way we look at others.

  1. The man or woman who walks with God must change the way he or she looks at self. (That change is fundamental to Christian existence.)
    1. More than once Jesus' twelve disciples debated among themselves which of them was the most important.
      1. Luke 22:24-30 states they had that discussion the last night of Jesus' earthly life.
      2. In fact, the discussion was so intense that evening, Luke called it a dispute.
      3. Jesus stated some facts about his kingdom they were to remember.
        1. Fact one: his kingdom did not function as other kingdoms did.
        2. Fact two: in other kingdoms, those who possess authority or were older were served.
        3. Fact three: In his kingdom, the situation is distinctly different.
        4. Fact four: in his kingdom, the one who serves is more significant than the one who is served.
    2. Jesus reminded them that he and his treatment of them was an example.
      1. He used his power to serve others and to serve them.
      2. Though they called him their master and acknowledged they were merely disciples, that very evening he would wash their feet (John 13:12-17).

  2. The way we look at ourselves, the opinion we have of ourselves, is one of the enormous problems most of us struggle with in our lives.
    1. "I" want "you" to verify my significance and importance.
      1. In order for "me" to feel significant, "you" must serve "me."
      2. For "me" to serve you is demeaning, but for "you" to serve "me" verifies my importance.
    2. I want you to focus on a statement Jesus made in Luke 17:10.
      1. But, in order to have a contextual focus, we must begin our understanding in Luke 16:10.
      2. Jesus made a statement on the unacceptability and undesirability of a person who belonged to God placing his or her trust in money.
        1. God will not entrust someone with eternal wealth if that person does not manage small things in God's interests.
        2. No person can give primary allegiance to two controlling, opposing forces in his or her life--both God and wealth cannot control your life.
      3. Some Pharisees (important religious influences) heard Jesus and ridiculed what he said.
        1. They loved money, and they (in their estimation) belonged to God--there was no conflict between the two.
        2. Jesus said, "You use what people think to justify yourselves."
          1. "God knows your hearts."
          2. "What people justify, God detests."
      4. Jesus related the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the prosperous man who enjoyed everything in contrast to a poor man with a horrible life.
        1. Jesus said the person who will not listen to what God said in the Law and the Prophets (scripture) will not listen to anything.
        2. Not even a resurrection from the dead will change their beliefs.
    3. Then Jesus directed his teachings and remarks to the disciples.
      1. "There is no way to prevent people from spiritually stumbling--it will happen."
      2. "But woe to the person who causes someone to stumble--he faces a worse situation than a certain death in which the body is never recovered."
        1. "Be careful! Forgive rather than discouraging those who fail."
        2. "Forgive repeatedly rather than causing someone to stumble."
      3. These concepts overwhelmed the disciples--these were new concepts!
        1. The concept that God and wealth are in conflict was new!
        2. The concept that you repeatedly forgive a person who failed rather than cause him to stumble is new!
        3. It would take a lot of faith to learn to trust these new concepts.
      4. Jesus said, "You are right! You do not have much faith! If you even had a tiny faith, mustard seed size, you could tell this mulberry tree to be planted in the sea and it would happen."
    4. This is the point I want you to see: if you are to have even a small faith, you must have a correct view of your relationship with God, and that means you must change the way you look at yourself.
      1. In relationship with God, you must see yourself as a slave.
      2. You understand very clearly, very well a slave-master relationship.
      3. When the slave works hard plowing or tending sheep all day, the master does not take care of the slave.
      4. The slave serves the master, and that was proper.
      5. Then Jesus made the statement in verse 10:
        Luke 17:10 So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, "We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done."
        1. Nothing God expects of us is unreasonable, and we do nothing that should not have been done.
        2. He will not exploit us.
        3. He has done far more to care for us than we can ever return to Him.

  3. If we are to serve God as is appropriate, if we are to treat one another as we should, we hold the correct opinion of ourselves.
    1. That fact receives enormous emphasis from New Testament writers:
      1. Sandwiched between Paul's challenge for the Christians in Rome to be living sacrifices and to function as Christ's body is this statement in Romans 12:3--
        For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
      2. In Romans 12:16 Paul wrote:
        Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
      3. To the Christians at Corinth, Paul wrote this statement in 2 Corinthians 13:11--
        Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
      4. To the Christians at Philippi, Paul wrote this statement in Philippians 2:1-3--
        Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.
    2. One statement that I find to be powerful in my own life is Peter's statement in 1 Peter 5:6,7
      Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
      1. The only attitude for the man or woman who begins to grasp what God does for him or her in Christ is humility.
      2. With all willingness and desire, that person humbles himself or herself before God.
        1. He or she realizes how mighty God's hand is.
        2. God's hand is so mighty that He can and will take care of your troubles.
        3. That hand will exalt you at the proper time--you never need be concerned about exalting yourself.
        4. That hand can take care of all your anxieties because God cares, and His caring is personal.

So, what is your opinion of yourself? You are not worthless--God values you so much that He gave His son for you. But your worth and my worth is discovered when we understand our relationship with God. That is when we are willing to be servants with humble attitudes. That is when we begin to treat other people as God wants. That is when life and relationships turn around.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 2 June 2002

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