Restoring Self-Respect

It’s Monday Grace!

Were you taught that self-esteem was a bad thing? I was. Self-esteem was just another word for pride in the legalist system. Self-esteem was me thinking I was something special.

The teachers talked about children raised to be selfish and how they would turn against their parents and the Lord. They said that we were never to be self-focused, but always submissive and giving. Anything that hinted at self-respect led to evil.

Why? Why would self-respect be evil? Well, the teachers said, because we are sinful and unclean. We are prone to evil. The thoughts of our minds, the feelings of our hearts, are compromised by sin. At least that’s what we were told. So, of course, we were supposed to listen to the teachers. They would have the answers. (Their hearts and minds were apparently not compromised like ours.)

But, we have a problem when we push away self-respect and self-esteem. No matter how hard I try, I still see only through my eyes and hear through my ears. I think only my thoughts. In other words, I am stuck with myself. The Eastern religions might suggest that we can lose ourselves in some vast spiritual organism, but Christianity knows nothing of that. “I am what I am,” Popeye said, “and that’s all that I am.”

But when we come to Jesus we die to self. Right? Where does the Bible say that? It doesn’t. It says I died with Christ on the cross. It says Jesus is my Life. It says I am a new creation. It says my life belongs to Him. It says all of that, but I am still who I am. There is a continuation of person from my beginning in this world that will last through eternity.

And that means I have to deal with my self. I know that I was broken by sin. We all were. That’s why we needed a Savior. I am thankful for a new birth, thankful to be separated from the old ways. Everything in my life has changed. But I am still my self. Jesus will not destroy me, nor simply absorb me into Him. The Bible does say that I am in Him, but it also says He is in me. If my self is lost or taken away, how can He be in me?

These are pretty deep concepts, and I don’t intend to try to explain all the theology behind them. The bottom line is that I still have to understand my self.

Let’s say it this way. You are not who you were. If you are in Christ, you are a new person with a new heart and a new spirit. You are still the same person, yet a different creation. That only makes sense if you are a unique person created by a powerful God. You have been re-created as the same person with a new life and a new spirit. You died with Christ on the cross, so the old is dying and has died, and you will never die again.

Do a study sometime of all that is new in you. New heart, new spirit, new mind, new future, new home, and more. The only thing that is the same is your person. That may be hard to define, but it’s you. And everything about you is new.

Except the flesh. The way you learned to live apart from the Lord. It has no power over you except to lie, to offer a familiar alternative to the Spirit in you. The flesh will not continue after life in this world. The flesh is a dying, but very powerful and intimate, influence. And it feels and sounds like you. It isn’t you, but you thought for so long that it was that it is hard to let it go. The old arguments and rationalizing, the old reactions and habits, they are all dying. They are all temporary and stuck in this world.

But you are eternal, washed clean and kept clean by the blood and life of Jesus. Your flesh is not you.

So, respect yourself. Why? Because everything that is you is respectable. Think of yourself as good, because everything about you is good. Esteem yourself, because you are wonderfully made and precious in the sight of the Lord. To do otherwise is to deny what He has done.

Sure, you still struggle to act and think like the person you are. But that’s the struggle. You are not a wretch trying to become better. You are a saint, a treasure of the Lord, seeking to be all that you are. The day will come when that struggle will end, but when that day comes God will not add anything to what you already are. The only thing that will happen is that the things of this world will pass away.

You are worthy of respect and honor, because the One who is your life is worthy.

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It’s ready!  Listed on Amazon!

Those who read here know that I believe the greatest expression of God’s grace is found in Jesus.  So, when Jesus taught the people, what do you suppose He wanted them to understand?  He wanted them to know the power and the desire of the love of God for them.  His message was not about what they should do for God, but what God had done and was willing to do for them.  His offer of salvation and Heaven could be summarized in two words: “Follow Me!”

The Sermon on the Mount is an amazing message of God’s practical grace for the lives of His people.  It presents an offer, a free gift, of everything God wants His people to have.  It all is found in Jesus.

This is a big book, over 450 pages, all for the purpose of showing that the Sermon on the Mount was a message of love.  Rather than a list of new rules given by Jesus, the Sermon reveals the heart of God. 

This is not a Bible commentary.  It is written in the same conversational style you know from this blog.  The theology may be deep, but the reading is straightforward and simple.  I believe you will enjoy this book!

Listen: get the ebook if you have a Kindle.  It’s only $10.  My guess is that this is the best $10 book you will get for your Kindle.  If you don’t have a Kindle, you should be able to read it on any computer or tablet or even phone with the Kindle app.  And, if it doesn’t work for you, just send it back!

The book is a chunk, but the print is clear and large enough to enjoy.  The cover photo is one I took from a boat on the Sea of Galilee to show the approximate place the Sermon was delivered. 

And let me know what you think!  Leave a review for others.  Reviews are important for Amazon sales.  Send me a note with your thoughts or questions.  You know how to reach me. 

While you are on Amazon, type in my name to see the other books I have listed.  You might be surprised!

Here’s the backpage blurb:

Twelve minutes. That’s how long it takes a good reader to deliver the most significant sermon in human history. The Sermon on the Mount not only changed lives, but changed the course of morality for the next 2000 years. Beautiful in its simplicity, unfathomable in its depth, the message Jesus brought to the people gathered on that mountainside near Capernaum early in His ministry has been a touchstone for people of all Christian denominations and nearly all religious faiths. Those who have been guided by these wise words are scattered throughout the world and throughout history.

All such discourses must be interpreted in the context of their audience. While it is clear that Jesus spoke to the people before Him that day, perhaps a large company of mixed races and backgrounds, it is not as clear whether that message was meant for anyone beyond that gathering. Some today suggest that the Sermon was meant only for them and not for us.

It seems strange to ask if such significant moral teaching still packs the punch it did that day. The question focuses on the fundamental difference between Jewish and Christian teaching. While the people gathered on the hillside with Jesus were still under the Law, Paul told his readers they were no longer under the Law but under grace. While all people appreciate the encouragement of the Beatitudes (or blessings), the rest of the Sermon interprets the Law for the people. And honest readers acknowledge that Jesus’ interpretation of the Law was even more challenging than that of the teachers of His day.

So, is it appropriate for Christians under grace to read and learn from the Sermon on the Mount? Does its teaching still have value in our daily walk with the Lord? Or have we misused this Sermon by continuing to share it among Christians?

Peter wrote that the divine power of Jesus “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” and that we are “partakers of the divine nature.” This is the core of our understanding of grace. All that God asks of us is provided for us in Jesus, and His grace is sufficient for us. Reading the Sermon on the Mount without understanding this message of grace creates confusion and frustration for believers. When we use the light of grace to illumine our understanding of the Sermon, the simple call Jesus offers to all people becomes clear. From the beginning of His ministry to His saving work today, Jesus has one message for all people: “Follow Me!” Those who come to Jesus find the fulfillment of the Law and the joy of daily life in Him.

This book will guide believers and others to see the grace offered in this amazing Sermon.

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