Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Jesus Wants You to Believe in Yourself" and Other Lies about Self-Confidence

Confidence is deceitful.  You may be confident that you can jump off a cliff, flap your arms, and soar through the air, but the truth is that you will plummet like a stone.  Sure, self-confidence may make us feel better about ourselves, and may make us feel more productive and willing to take risks.  But the truth is, we all fail regardless of how good we feel about ourselves.

Many books have been written in the attempt to free us to be content in who we are and to stop us from comparing ourselves to others.  That sounds good when you're talking about externals, but if you look at that from a spiritual angle, it falls flat.  We are NOT inherently good.  God did not choose us because he "believed in us", but because he saw that we are helpless and lost.  Even while his loving arms are reaching out to us, we are blind and cold to him.  By nature we hate God.  We hate what is pure, what is true, and what is good. 

If you are a Christian and think that you must make yourself believe that you have innate faith, beauty, or goodness, you are believing a lie.  Certainly, these attributes are imputed to us through Christ, but not because of any merit of our own.  God did not choose us because we are good enough- we can never be good enough!  He chose us because he loved us.

I often find myself comparing myself to others.  Sometimes the result is that I feel less beautiful, less lovable, or less spiritual... I can make myself miserable with the thought that I am somehow worth less.  Other times I compare myself with others in order to feel better about myself- "At least I would never do that!".  We all do this.  But we are so busy quantifying ourselves in comparison to fellow sinners that we are blind to the perfect righteousness that God requires.  What is the point in saying that we still have a few shreds of flesh left on our bones, when we are all dead anyways?  The life of Christ is the only thing worth comparing ourselves to.  When we see his spotless righteousness in light of our constant failings, our "self-confidence" is shattered.  There is no chance to redeem ourselves by comparing ourselves to others.  That kind of security is simply hanging from a thread.  "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", and thus we are all justly doomed to the same fate- an eternity in hell. 

When will we see that we are dry bones, devoid of the breath of life?  (Ezekiel 37)  Oh, but if we will see and recognize the reality that we were dead but now we live, what joy we find!  Because Christ took our sins upon himself and abolished them, we are resurrected to life with him through the breath of the Spirit.  The identity of a Christian therefore lies not in what we do, but who we are identified with.  And so we no longer look to others, or even to ourselves for identity or security- we are secure in Christ, who is our identity.  We esteem him above all, so that we are no longer concerned with esteeming ourselves.

This is why I marvel, and this is where my security lies: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)

While we were nothing, He became our everything.  Self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence... these are self-centered ideas that lead to disillusionment and discontentment.  But to exalt the Lord and to be confident that His plans and His salvation are unfailing, despite my failed efforts- this is the path to contentment and security.  We find unshakable confidence when we realize that we are worthless, and yet are loved by the one who is forever worthy.

So I challenge you- ask God to help you see your depravity this week, so that you might marvel in the beauty of his redemption and love.

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price
of all my sin at Calvary.

No merit of my own
His anger to suppress,
My only hope is found
In Jesus' righteousness.

("My Hope is in the Lord" by Norman J. Clayton)


  1. Thank you. I needed this reminder.

  2. What a beautiful post, and what beautiful truth! Thank you for speaking words that some might be afraid to. Thank you for speaking truth in a culture - in some places, even a church culture - that upholds lies. We don't want to hear that we're imperfect - more than imperfect, totally depraved - but that's what we need to hear, because that's the truth of the Gospel, and what use is the Gospel if we're so good that we don't need to be saved? What use is the Gospel if we've already got it all and just want a little Jesus on top? What use is the Gospel when our own self-esteem is so high and all the world seems to be shouting our praises? Oh, how we need this truth!!! Thank you for being loving enough to share it.