Self-esteem can be a tricky subject for us Christians. For those of us who believe in the doctrine of sin, we bristle and ball our fists at the slightest reference to self-esteem. We start rabidly frothing at the mouth, then jab our quivering finger at Romans 3 and say, “There is no such thing as self-esteem, because we’re all worthless sinners whose righteousness is like filthy rags!” I’ve been in that group at times.

But in recent years my thinking on this subject has changed a little bit. As I’ve studied scripture, I’ve come to see that there is such a thing as good, godly self-esteem.

Godly self-esteem comes from understanding that every person is valuable to God, not because of what they’ve done, but because they are created in the image of God. Worldly self-esteem simply says that every person is valuable, but it doesn’t go any further. It leaves the focus squarely on us. We’re told that we need to love ourselves more because we’re worth it.

Godly self-esteem, on the other hand, says that we are valuable because God made us. He has placed his stamp on us and we belong to him. Every person is valuable to God, and even though we are sinners, God still cares about and values each person. Sin has marred the image of God, but it’s still there.

A person with godly self-esteem also realizes that they have been purchased with the blood of Christ. God himself approves of them because of the blood of his son. They can rest secure in that position. They are a part of the precious family of God.

So when it comes to things like losing weight, or cutting, or eating disorders, or body image, or loneliness, or any number of issues, we do need to have godly, appropriate self-esteem. The Bible doesn’t say that we are worthless. The Bible doesn’t say that we’re pieces of dirt. It says that we’re sinners. But it also says we are valuable to God because he made us and he bought us with blood. Our security and value doesn’t come from what we look like, or if we’re skinny, or if we’re popular. Our value comes from God himself.

Are we all desperate sinners who need a savior? Yes, absolutely. But being a desperate sinner doesn’t make me worthless. God has declared that I have worth simply by the fact that he created me. I can rest in that. I can be okay with who I am. Who God made me to be. And I want to help my fellow brothers and sisters and Christ realize that they too, are valuable to God.

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