Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.


“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of

himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to

every man the measure of faith.”


Romans 12: 3


Self-esteem may be defined as self-valuation, self-regard, self-appreciation – the regard with

which one looks upon oneself, the thought and affection value that one puts upon oneself, his

appreciation of himself.


Self-esteem, like every other grace of Christian character, can be abused. Its chief abuse is

thinking more highly of oneself than one ought to think. Our text warns, “not to think of himself

more highly than he ought to think.” Another abuse of self-esteem is to think too disparagingly

of oneself. Proper self-esteem lies between these two extremes, as we read “to think soberly” –

to form a non-exaggerated, conservative, all-rounded, all-sided and true self-appraisal of oneself.


“The Measure of Faith”


Our text tells us what a proper thinking of oneself is, in the words, “according as God hath dealt

to every man the measure of faith.” The word faith here means faithfulness, which results from

one’s fully trusting his belief. The expression “measure of faith” means one’s ability for

faithfulness. God’s people differ from one another in such ability, as the Apostle intimates in the

five verses following our text (Romans 12: 4-8). God gives to each one of his consecrated people

an office whose duties and privileges he is capable of fulfilling, if faithful.


God assigns each one his place as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 12: 18), but He does not act

arbitrarily. God takes into consideration three things: (1) one’s spirit of consecration, (2) one’s

talents and (3) one’s providential situation. God makes a proper, true appraisal of each disciple

of Christ, and then assigns him a place. All we need to do to think soberly of ourselves is to find

out what our place is, and then think of ourselves accordingly. Once we have done so, we will

have a proper self-esteem as a grace and not as a disgrace.


The Elements of Self-esteem


Self-esteem contains three elements: self-confidence, self-satisfaction and self-respect:


(1.) Self-confidence is a belief in one’s ability to do what one believes God desires him to do.


(2.) Self-satisfaction is something that we cannot properly exercise now because of our fallen

condition, including our lacks, faults and weaknesses. To exercise self-satisfaction now would

imply satisfaction with our imperfections, pride, which would prevent us from making the

progress necessary for our development and overcoming; for who would strive to develop

himself if he were self-satisfied. In God’s Kingdom, when perfect, we will exercise self

satisfaction properly.


(3.) Self-respect respects oneself as a child of God should – as too worthy to stoop to the low, the

mean and the disgraceful, and worthy to think of self as the high privilege of being a child of

God calls upon him to think of himself.


Exaggerated Self-esteem


When self-esteem is exaggerated it produces pride, which is one of the most condemned

disgraces in the Bible. It is especially dangerous to Christians, for “God resisteth the proud, but

giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4: 6) (1 Peter 5: 5). Pride, like self-esteem, also has three



(1.) Exaggerated self-confidence takes on various forms, like self-sufficiently, audacity,

forwardness, self-asssurance, presumptuousness, etc. It leads people to aspire to things beyond

their capacity, and to attempt things for which they lack the necessary abilities.


(2.) Exaggerated self-satisfaction is always wrong in fallen man, yet there are varying degrees of

it. It is self-conceit, self-complacency and self-admiration. It makes its possessor feel like the

center of the universe.


(3.) Exaggerated self-respect manifests itself in vaunting ambition, haughtiness, arrogance,

contempt and high-mindedness. It tends to disdain and despise others, especially those who are

superior to oneself.


Lack of Self-esteem


Lack of self-confidence frequently makes one fail in matters which he is qualified to succeed in

because of his disbelief in himself. Those who are thus handicapped need to believe in their

ability to do God’s will for them.


Lack of self-respect frequently leads people to engage in conduct unworthy of themselves – like

unchastity, drunkenness, gluttony, tobacco and drug addiction, filthiness of appearance, taking

mean advantage of others, etc. – if they properly respected themselves.


Self-esteem properly developed enables us to develop a Christlike character, to influence others

favorably and to honor God and Christ.


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