When nobody values you, found pleasure in you, or favour you, what do you think about yourself? Getting messages from people that you are a “nobody” and being not esteemed by anybody produces a low self-esteem. It is when a person is not esteemed that they are very sensitive, seeing how others are treated with value and, as a result, felt valuable.
What makes you feel good about yourself? Do you consider your opinions worthy of consideration? Do you expect others to respect your boundaries, or do you hold yourself in such low esteem that you do not establish and maintain healthy boundaries, boundaries that line up with God’s purpose for your life? The Bible says in Romans 12:3 “By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Though this verse is not saying we should have a low self-esteem, but rather a balanced esteem of self.
The meaning of the word “esteem” is to set a high value. The Hebrew word “nabat” means “to esteem, to look with favour or regard with pleasure.” Therefore to have self-esteem means to have respect or high regard for yourself. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
Many people would rather prefer to use self-worth instead of self-esteem. The reason for this is because the word self-esteem actually has two different meanings that are opposite to each other.
- The first meaning is humility or objective regard of your value. This self-worth is rooted in the recognition of your sins and your need for the Saviour, recognition of your need to live dependently on Him and of the fact that Christ established your worth by dying for you. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2).
- The second meaning of self-esteem is related to an exaggerated regard of your value … which the Bible refers to as pride. This self-esteem is rooted in the idea that you are “good enough” within yourself to meet your own needs and therefore you do not need to live dependently on the Saviour. Your worth is established by your “inherent goodness” and “personal accomplishments.” “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
In the Bible, God’s view of these two types of “self-esteem” is in sharp contrast to one another. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)