There are well over seven billion people in the world all with unique personalities and character traits. However, if everyone’s view of self were to be polled the results may not be that varying. The reason being that mankind either overvalues or undervalues their general worth. A more in-depth look may reveal varying levels of self-estimation as it relates to occupation, relationships, and abilities. Nevertheless, all of us have a view of self that is either aggrandized or dismal but very seldom proper. The significance of our self-estimation cannot be overstated even though most of the time it is underplayed. Suicide, depression, abuse, and bullying to name a few are all related to self-estimation or a misunderstanding of it. Renowned neurochemistry and psychiatry expert Dr. Srini Pillay wrote, “When you’re depressed, you may be tempted to focus on your symptoms…But a 2019 paper on depression suggests that “a sense of self” is what you should pay attention to.” (Pillay) In the same fashion, self-centeredness, cruelty, hate, and prejudice have their roots in an overestimation of self. Biblically, sin came into the world because of Adam and Eve’s lust for self-elevation or the pride of life (Genesis 3:6). How we view ourselves may very well be the answer to many of our behavioral problems. How we treat ourselves, others, and things that are critical to godly living, are linked to self-estimation. Thus, it behooves us to make sure that we have a proper, biblical view of self.
The bible lets us know that mankind is, 1) Below God. When God created man and woman from the dust and rib, He did not put them on par with Divine nature. God is Omnipotent (Revelation 19:6) He is power personified. There is nothing too hard or impossible for the Lord (Cf. Genesis 18:14 & Matthew 19:26). The magnitude of His power is manifested when we are introduced to God. Moses recorded that God spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1). God is Omniscient. Job said, Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge, Job 37:16? Has it ever occurred to the reader that nothing ever occurs to God? God is Omnipresent, He is everywhere at the same time. Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD, Jeremiah 23:24. Is anything too hard for mankind, yes; does mankind possess perfect knowledge, no; can mankind be everywhere at once, only in our wildest dreams. These facts should paint a proper picture of self. We are not equal to God, we did not create ourselves (Psalm 100:3) we do not sustain ourselves (Nehemiah 9:6) and we certainly did not save ourselves (John 3:16). Hence, there is simply no reason for mankind to have an exaggerated view of self. The proud and haughty individual should ponder the words of Paul; barring context the sentiment is applicable. What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it, 1 Corinthians 4:7.
2) Next to Man. In both spectrums of self-estimation, the defining criteria is usually determined in light of others. We judge ourselves based on what we think of others. The proud believes everyone is beneath them and the self-loathing believes everyone is above them. The proper view is native to creation. God created Adam and Eve in His own image. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, Genesis 1:27. The intrinsic worth of man is tied to our Creator furthermore, that worth is equally allocated. Although God made Adam and Eve individually peculiar, He did not make them inferior to one another. Their worth as human beings were equal, and their worth to God was identical. Paul had to explain this to the prejudice Athenians on Mars Hill saying, He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, Acts 17:26. We may be separated by physical abilities, culture, ethnicity, or social standing but those things do not determine the worth of an individual. One is not better than another because he/she is rich, nor is one worse because he/she is poor (Proverbs 22:2). When we judge ourselves better or worse based on the material attributes of others we will always come away with an improper view of self. The proper view is to “hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal.”
3) Above the Animals. In a magnanimous display of compassion, the God of heaven made us in His image (Genesis 1:26). Human beings are the only ones who bear the image of the Creator, animals do not. Therefore, man was given dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26). Contrary to atheistic and evolutionary beliefs, we did not originate from the animal kingdom. Hence, we do not share a common ancestry or value. Man is worth more than his dog and is to be valued more than the beast of the field. It is an insult to the God of heaven to attribute the same worth to an animal as to His image-bearers. God did not send His Son to die a cruel death for a cat, Christ did not leave the splendor of heaven to redeem a cow. No, dogs do not go to heaven that is reserved for God’s creation. No wonder our generation is plagued with self-worth problems; mankind in his foolishness has told them they are no better than the animals. We need to educate as many minds as possible about the proper way to view one’s worth. We need to tell folks; You are worth more than the sparrow (Matthew 10:31, Luke 12:24) and more than sheep (Matthew 12:11) you are the crown of God’s creation.
Pride is a dangerous path that leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18) and self-loathing is a path that only leads to depression. There is a middle ground and the scriptures bear it out, it’s called God’s Proper view of You.
Pillay, Srini. “How Does Your ‘Sense of Self’ Relate to Depression?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 May 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/debunking-myths-the-mind/201905/how-does-your-sense-self-relate-depression.