Corrected Self-Esteem

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
Corrected Self-Esteem
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1 Corinthians 4:6-9

Some years ago, there appeared a new twist to understanding the conversation Jesus had with a man of the law. The account is recorded in Mark 12:28-33:

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them, reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou has said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other than he, And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

The twist came in loving neighbor as self. We were told by those who promoted it that you cannot love your neighbor until you love yourself. So you must love yourself. You must pamper yourself. You must do something nice for yourself. That way you will have a basis for doing something nice for your neighbor. You can love your neighbor if you love yourself.

Now I believe that is self-esteem gone to seed. What a harvest it yields because people become selfish! Every seed yields a hundredfold.

Solomon, the wise man of the Old Testament, in Proverbs 16:18-19 gives us further good counsel. He says:

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Therefore, I wish to help you in your self-esteem. The apostle Paul spoke to this point in Romans 12:3:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, accord ing as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

So self-esteem is proper if it is properly understood. Therefore let’s consider the subject of CORRECTED SELF-ESTEEM as it is found in I Corinthians 4:6-9:

6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and [to] Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

To experience a Corrected Self-Esteem, we must give careful attention to the several CONDITIONS of community life in the body of Christ.

The first condition to be corrected is:

THE UNNATURAL STRATIFICATION

6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and [to] Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

A multiple ministry provides the setting for stratification. People grade the preachers. The apostle Paul said I have transferred this to myself and Apollos. We understand that the multiple ministry can create the setting for unnatural stratification.

I am reminded of what happened one time when Jesus and the disciples were walking along the way and the disciples were having a rather warm discussion among themselves. When they arrived, Jesus asked them, “What were you talking about along the way?” (see Mark 9:34). He discovered they were talking about who would be the greatest. You see, this is stratification. It has always been a human temptation to see who can be on top or where to place those various individuals.

However, the apostle goes on to explain to us that there are different roles. Not everybody is made alike. We are all human beings, but we are not alike. Each one has his or her particular role or place in the body of Christ. The apostle raises a number of questions in verse 7: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why doest thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

Do you see? We are not all the same. When it comes to my own abilities, I am not an artist. Oh, I can see things in my mind, but when I try to sketch them on paper, nothing comes out the way I see it. I have a friend, however, who, when I talk to him about what I see, can make a few marks on the paper, and very soon he has something that looks like what I saw in my mind. So we are not the same. That is a very common illustration, but it is true. And the apostle says we are not all alike.

Today there is great emphasis on gifts in the church. Try to discern what is your gift. I know and have witnessed this already where people are trying to function in an area they are not fitted for, that simply was not their, like we say, cup of tea. They could not do the job well because they were not qualified for it. I am talking about unnatural stratification.

So what we need to do is to be more careful about this. It needs to be corrected. Barnes, in his notes on the New Testament has some very good words for us:

This passage states a general doctrine, that the reason why one man differs from another is to be traced to God; and that this fact should repress all boasting and glorying, and produce true humility in the minds of Christians. It may be observed, however, that it is as true of intellectual rank, of health, of wealth, of food, of raiment, of liberty, of peace, as it is of religion, that all come from God; and as this fact which is so obvious and well known, does not repress the exertions of men to preserve their health and to obtain property, so it should not repress their exertions to obtain salvation. God governs the world on the same good principles everywhere; and the fact that he is the source of all blessings, should not operate to discourage, but should prompt to human effort. The hope of his aid and blessing is the only ground of encouragement in any undertaking.

So, the first condition to be corrected is the Unnatural Stratification.

The second condition to be corrected is:

THE UNSUITABLE SATISFACTION

8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

Verse 8 contains probably the strongest irony of any place in the Bible. The apostle comes across this with great emphasis. “Ye are full.” That means fully satisfied. The image is the physical. You have eaten until you are perfectly satisfied. The perfect tense, in this case, is “have need of nothing.”

You are full and you are rich. Now the tense is changing there and carries the thought of becoming rich. You have a desire, you have a thrust, you have a passion to become rich, wealthy. That is financial. First, it was physical; now it is financial.

One is reminded of the “wealth” doctrine of some preachers. I heard one say, “Jesus wants you to be rich. He had a treasurer following Him around. Wouldn’t you like to have a treasurer following you around?”

But Jesus said He had no place to lay His head. Paul says, “You are rich. You seem to have need of nothing.”

And the third thing Paul says is, “You have reigned as kings.” Now, this is political. You see we have the physical, financial, and political.

Years ago the king of one country said, “I am the State!” That is total authority. That is what monarchy is, total authority invested in one person. Well, those Corinthians found their satisfaction in the earthly and temporal realm. That is where self-esteem needs correction.

Paul’s wish was impossible to fulfill. He said, in the last clause of verse 8, “and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.” There is no self-appointment possible in God’s service.

One time a mother came to Jesus and wanted Him to grant her request. He said, “What is it that you would like to have?” And she said, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). Self-appointment, you see. But that is not possible in the service of God. We should be satisfied only with the insatiable desire to be all the Lord has in mind for us.

Again I would like you to hear what Barnes says in his notes on this text:

The first metaphor is taken from persons filled with food; the second from those who are so rich that they do not feel their want for more; the third from those who are raised to a throne, the highest elevation, where there was nothing further to be reached or desired. And the phrase means, that they had been fully satisfied with their condition and attainments, with their knowledge and power, that they lived like rich men and princes reveling, as it were, on spiritual enjoyments, and disdaining all foreign influence, and instruction, and control.

So the second condition of self-esteem to be corrected is Unsuitable Satisfaction.

The third condition to be corrected is:

THE UNSPARING SUBORDINATION

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Here the apostle Paul takes a very humble position and says, “God’s order seems to be that apostles should be last or least.”

Persons in responsible places are most vulnerable. They are the ones to be shot at. They are not the last, as in, being behind. They are out front. They lead the way. And because they are in the battle with the enemy, they can be, as the apostle says, “appointed to death.”

I learned in my exposure to Israel that the Israeli army demands that their captains lead into battle. They are out front. That is why so often in their wars their finest men have been killed because they were leading into battle.

It seems to me this may be what the apostle Paul is suggesting in verse 9. The apostles were “appointed to death” because they were leading into the battle.

Then Paul said the apostles “are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” It seems he must have in his mind the actor on the stage of life in a coliseum. There the actors were on the stage in mortal combat, depending on how the emperor turned his thumbs whether or not the bleeding gladiator would be killed or spared. If it was thumbs up, he was spared. If it was thumbs down, his opponent killed him.

A spectacle. Cosmic forces, the spirit world, and human audiences gaze upon those in subordination. Out of subordination arises great affirmation.

The apostle Paul had an experience he spoke of. He said he was greatly distressed. Three times he sought the Lord to remove the condition from him. Then he got word from the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for thee, because my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

Therefore the third condition of self-esteem to be corrected is Unsparing Subordination.

Anonymously, somebody said it so well: “Humility is not talking yourself down, it is putting God in His rightful place.” Yes, Amen.

Again, let us hear a brief comment from Barnes:

The theater or amphitheater of the ancients was composed of an arena, or level floor, on which the combatants fought, and which was surrounded by circular seats rising above one another to a great height, and capable of containing many thousand spectators. Paul represents himself as on this arena, or stage, contending with foes, and destined to death. Around him and above him are an immense host of men and angels looking on at the conflict, and awaiting the issue. He is not alone or unobserved. He is made public, and the universe gazes on the struggle.

Yes, the third condition of self-esteem to be corrected is Unsparing Subordination.

So, my friend, self-esteem tempered with love for God is a mighty force. However, today as in Paul’s day these conditions need correction.

THE UNNATURAL STRATIFICATION

Gradation by the flesh

THE UNSTABLE SATISFACTION

Living in the desires of the flesh

THE UNSPARING SUBORDINATION

Concentration only to please God.