Believe in Yourself

Believe in Yourself

 

Every generation has a mantra – a saying that motivates and sums up their perspective on life … their philosophy of life

The way they approach life in general

We are told to believe in ourselves – because self-esteem is important 

In fact, it is the driving force behind a lot of the way the world of education works today

For the past 30 or 35 years it has been an accepted fact of psychology that low self-esteem is the root of many social and personal problems — especially among young people

Low self-esteem is to blame for everything 

      • The high school drop-out rate
      • Teenage pregnancy
      • Overflowing prisons
      • The rate of suicides
      • Drug abuse 
      • Hate crimes

The philosophy goes like this:

If we can change how people view themselves — we can change how they act

I believe that the self-esteem movement — and it is a movement — has the right motivation behind it

But not the right message

We all want to feel good about ourselves

None of us want to live with low self-esteem (think badly about ourselves and who we are)

We don’t want our children to dislike themselves 

However, the evidence is overwhelming: Increased self-esteem has not helped

      • Prisons are still full
      • Drug abuse is on the rise
      • Violence is still a major issue
      • Suicides are never in short supply

Most people, if they pause to think about what is happening in the world, would agree that things are not getting better but are simply getting worse

Our culture continues to tell us that the greatest attribute is the ability to take matters into your own hands

To be the determiner of our destiny and the captain of your own ship

Believe and achieve!

Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps

There are whole sections of bookstores devoted to helping you have self-confidence above all else (self-esteem) and to rely on yourself alone

You determine who you are and what you achieve

This kind of advice sounds good because it is basic human nature to take matters into our own hands

We would rather trust in ourselves because it makes us feel in control

But, I believe that deep down in our soul and spirit we know this is a lie

The truth is, the older you get, the more you begin to realize that one of your greatest enemies is yourself

      • No one has misled you more than you’ve misled yourself
      • No one has lied to you more than you’ve lied to yourself
      • No one has hurt, distracted, or hindered you more than you have

In fact, the more you believe in yourself, the deeper the pit you find yourself in

Have you ever noticed that the harder you try, the more you mess up?

As good as it sounds, “Believe in yourself!” Is a lie

Don’t believe in yourself

Believe in Someone bigger than yourself

Knowing that the same Someone will give you power that causes you to live differently everywhere you go throughout your life

Acts 1:8 NET “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

The Bible offers numerous clear warnings about why you shouldn’t believe in yourself.

There are three biggies:

1> Believing in Self Caused the Fall of the Human Race

The devil (Lucifer) tempted Adam and Eve with the very same thing that got him booted out of Heaven — telling them, in essence,

  “You can and will be like God. There in no reason to trust God any longer because you can be like God yourself. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5)

This was the great temptation in the Garden of Eden – to be in control (believe in yourself)

It was more than taking a bite of fruit

It was the human race wanting to determine their own destiny and future

It was human beings wanting to be in control and be God

Believing more in themselves more than trusting on God’s direction

Having a strong sense of self – self-esteem

2> Believing in Self Caused Problems for the Israelites in the Old Testament

God continually accused the Israelites of doing whatever was right in their own eyes instead of trusting in Him

Judges 17:6 NET “In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right.”

The people didn’t need God because they believed in themselves – a strong sense of self-esteem – and thus felt no need to believe in God for direction

3> Believing in Self is Opposite of What Jesus Taught

The fundamental statement that Jesus gave us about following Him was not for us to believe in ourselves but rather the exact opposite — to deny ourselves

This call – this denial – is more than letting go of some desire or dream 

The call is to deny our whole selves — all our natural motives and impulses that conflict with the claims of Christ

In fact, He went even further to say that we must take up our cross, which is an instrument of death

So, are we suppose to believe in ourselves?

No, actually we are supposed to die to ourselves!

Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 NET)

Jesus was talking about a different way to live

Actually, it’s not just a different way to live from what is natural to the world.

It is an opposite way

When the apostle Paul described the Gospel in comparison to the world, he said:

1 Corinthians 1:18 NET “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

To the non-Christian, the story of a God coming to earth to die for His people so they wouldn’t have to depend on themselves seems absolutely foolish

There is a way that seems right to most people

The systems of the world and the structures of success are built around trusting yourself instead of someone else … having a great sense of self-esteem

In fact, if your main goal in life is to trust someone else, you will most likely be labeled as lazy, dependent, and weak

Self-esteem loudly states: You better believe in yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you or even help you to do it

Believe in yourself – and don’t trust anyone else because they will always fail you

After all, you need to get all you can, in any way you can, step on whomever you can, and do it while you still can

Paul in the same chanter of 1 Corinthians, continues to teach the opposite to the way of the world (build up your self-esteem) when he said:

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)

God chooses to give us freedom, victory, and success in ways opposite to what would seem natural to us

It is what I like to call the paradox of the gospel

According to the dictionary:

The word ‘paradox’ means:

A belief contrary to perceived opinion

A statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true

This means: What seems foolish in the eyes of most of our friends, family, and coworkers who don’t have a relationship with God is often the thing that should be most important to us

This means: What seems silly to the world is the very thing that ushers in the power of God

This means: When you compare the principles of God’s way of doing this to the principles of the world’s way of doing things, everything will seem backward

      • Up is down
      • Left is right
      • Wrong is right
      • Gaining is losing
      • Last is first
      • Living is dying

Here are a few prime examples of scriptural paradoxes which fly in the face of “believe in yourself”:

1> To be exalted, you must be humbled

1 Peter 5:6 ESV “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”

Are you doing things for God and others or is everything you are doing motivated by selfish ambitions?

You are doing this because you “believe in yourself” and this thing will benefit you?

2> To be strong, you must be weak

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Often, when we think we are at our strongest, we will by default depend on ourselves

But, the paradox is, when you are depending on yourself, you will never have the strength to endure the hardships that life throws your way

But when you are utterly dependent on the Lord, you will stand strong in the midst of storms because you are standing on the rock — Jesus

You are at your best when you are most dependent on Him

The power of Christ is most visible in you when you are able to be faithful in spite of trials, troubles, and circumstances

3> To be a receiver, you must be a giver

Acts 20:35 ESV “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

The world’s philosophy states:

“It’s better to work as much as you can, earn all you can. Save it all, get very rich, keep it all for yourself, and withhold from others if you have to so that your children can fight over it once they lower you into a six-foot grave”

The irony is that some of the most miserable people in the world are those who take from others, while some the most joyful people in the world are those who give unselfishly

God is more generous than any person on earth, and if He is living inside you, He will change you to become more and more like Him

When you give your time, talent, and treasures to God for the good of others, you will receive some of the greatest gifts of all — joy, peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment

If you have been given those things, then you are truly rich indeed

4> To gain, you must lose

Philippians 3:7-8 ESV “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”

So many times we are too busy chasing after good things, such as money, relationships, career, and prestige

That we completely miss out on the greatest gift of all — Christ

For example, money in and of itself is not bad

However, when we love it more than God and people, It becomes evil

1 Timothy 6:10 ESV “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

It is our drive of wanting and gaining more stuff that often causes us not to pursue the Saviour

It scary to think that we can gain it all — everything the world has to offer — and lost the very essence of who we are – our souls

Things will never truly satisfy us

We will always need and want more

The paradox of the Gospel is that after gaining, we are to live a life of service and sacrifice for Him

Only then can we be truly satisfied

The world may think we are losers for losing what’s rightfully ours

But we will have the freedom of knowing we have gained victory in Christ

Gaining Him is gaining the fulfillment that our souls long for

5> To live, you must die

Romans 8:13 ESV “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

There is a popular saying, YOLO, which means, “you only live once”

A lot of people use this as a mantra for conquest and to justify greed

To make the most out of life:

          • Get the most money
          • The most accolades
          • The most sexual partners
          • The biggest house
          • The newest car

Sadly, you can live it up in this life while being marked for an eternity separated from God

It is true that you only live once, and then comes forever — either with God or away from God

There is no in-between

To truly live

To truly know joy

To truly experience all this world was created for is to know the One by whom it was created

Jesus is the life

And to have this life you must die to yourself

The more you die to self, the more life is in you because Christ is in you!

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease”

Romans 8:10 ESV “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

1> To be exalted, you must be humbled

2> To be strong, you must be weak

3> To be a receiver, you must be a giver

4> To gain, you must lose

5> To live, you must die

How incredibly confusing, and yet so wonderfully beautiful, are these paradoxes of the Gospel

The Kingdom operates in a way that is the exact opposite of everything that seems natural and normal to living in this world today

Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live, said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12)

How wild can it get?

Living in the freedom of the paradoxes of the Gospel feels unnatural, abnormal, and frankly, absolutely crazy

Maybe that is why it takes so much faith

At the core of believing in ourselves is our desire to be in control

However, if you attempt to live life believing in yourself, you will be trapped

Trapped by:

          • Discouragement
          • Fear
          • Anxiety
          • Worry

The pressure of trying to be in control of all situations will set you up to be eventually knocked out by the hardships of life

Living in this world can pack a punch that may put you on the mat, but it can’t move God off His throne

You were not made to believe in yourself, because you were not made to be in control

You were made to believe in Someone else

You were made to trust Someone else to be in control

That is ultimately what faith is — trusting in the One who sits on the throne as King

There is a wonderful freedom in living this way

It takes all the pressure off you and places it on the One who can handle it

A great thing about believing in God and trusting Him with your life is that He does not struggle with the same things you and I do

    • He never gets stressed, anxious, or worried
    • He is in control of all things
    • He has a plan and purpose
    • He is strong enough to bring everything to its fulfillment

We will fail — He never does

We will make mistakes — He never does

We will mess things up — He never does

He can be trusted

Time and time again He has proven Himself

But to believe in Him means we have to let go

Letting go means we can no longer hold on to it

Whatever that “it” is for you

It is time to place “it” in the hands of God and let go of “it”

Faith steps in the moment you let go