Today’s self-help books offer this poison: Learn to love yourself. Accept yourself unconditionally. Speak up. Praise yourself. Believe in yourself. We even have companies enticing viewers to splurge on their product, “Because you’re worth it.” A phrase I learned having been raised by two Philadelphia city kids applies here: “Oy vey.”
Children of this world seem to glimpse a portion of the truth…even if they do not comprehend it in its entirety (John 14:6):
Mark Twain: “Deep down in his heart no man much respects himself.”
Leo Tolstoy: “I am always with myself and it is I who am my tormentor.”
Goethe: “I do not know myself and God forbid that I should.”
H.L. Mencken: “Self-respect–the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.”
Paul (a guy who, for all practical purposes, had lots of reasons to think highly of himself) came to this realization, that “in my flesh dwells no good thing.” But he saw the hope that the gospel offers. Those glorious introductory verses in his letter to the Ephesians remind us – we are “accepted in the beloved,” on account of the superabundant merit of Christ. If there is anything commendable about ourselves, it has come from another Source. Our identity is not self-made. It is “in Him.” Look at a list of references on this simple phrase, and one quickly sees that the Christian life is not about building up self, but making much of Christ.
“Let us make much of our Lord’s incarnation and example, His miracles and His parables, His works and His words, but above all let us make much of His death.”~ J.C. Ryle