From Jim O'Brien
May 17, 2019

Self Esteem

Hi Friend,

Clearing out clutter from the office, the first major obstacle to tackle was books. Can't read them all again and some were a waste the first time. I came across the book Teaching Your Child Self-Esteem. It seemed like a good book at the time of purchase. I was persuaded by several arguments, but time and observing cultural change brought greater wisdom.

After living under the writer's delusions for a few years I was confronted with a startling revelation. Do you know what segment of society has the highest level of self-esteem? Ready for a shock?-murderers on death row have the highest measured level of self-esteem of any segment of the population. Also high on the list are gang members and criminals.

Not to say that self-esteem isn't a good thing, but we need balance. Paul's instruction to the Church at Corinth was to "examine yourself". For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:31)

The sort of balance I'm talking about is found in the letters of America's greatest leaders. They are filled with a sense of sin. That's right! Sin! In his book "Whatever Happened to Sin?" Karl Menninger says that Dwight Eisenhower was the last American President to use the word in a public address.

The word was stricken from our vocabulary and the concept has nearly disappeared.

Read the letters of Abraham Lincoln, as well as John Adams and George Washington. They spoke openly of our national sins. They believed God punished a nation for sins against Him. They beseeched the population to fall on our knees and confess our sins to God in sincere repentance. Imagine a president saying that today.

They proclaimed days of national prayer and "fasting". And God heard the prayers of those early citizens and intervened to protect and heal the nation.

Imagine what the Bible would be like if the word sin were removed.

The writings of the Prophets are replete with phrases such as "They have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, No, not one." (Psalm 14:3; 53:3 and Romans 3:12). The Apostle Paul went on to say "All have sinned...." (verse 23) What did these words do to the self-esteem of the hearers? The short answer is it caused many to repent of the evil they were doing.

I do not believe that God wants man to wallow in self-debasement. It is just that man does so much that is the result of overweening pride! It is so easy to become proud when a nation has been blessed with such abundance. We are unbalanced! And the recognition of sin re-centers a man to reality.

John the Baptist taught a message of repentance that paved the road for the work of the Messiah. Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley and George Whitefield all brought a change to the heart of America. In each case it started with a message of repentance from sin.

The Bible talks a lot about repentance. But how does a person repent if he sees himself as good?

The new face of Christianity is the mega-church that has emerged to replace the tired old denominations with 17th century hymns. The problem, however, is that the new sermons are designed to make the listener feel good about himself while remaining in his sin.

My wife taught school with a young teacher who was a flag-waving member of a mega-church. She talked openly about her religious faith yet she was living with a man to whom she was not married and saw nothing inconsistent about her faith and her life style.

King David was humiliated by his sins. He repented because he felt awful about himself. Had he not seen himself as evil he would not have changed. Israel would have lost the best king they ever had and Christianity would have lost a great witness of true leadership.

The most egregious problem in America today may be the smug moral superiority of leaders who brazenly advocate sin. We can only dream of what America would be like if our leaders possessed the humility of King David. Corruption would cease to exist in Congress. But first they must see themselves as sinners.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien