A few nights ago, in my sleep, the Lord Jesus Christ gave me a high level view, from Heaven’s perspective, of the selfish, self-centered nature of humanity, mySELF included! It’s a HUGE part of our fallen human condition, and really, from Heaven’s perspective it is baffling. To us, it is natural to be focused on self, everybody is, but in Heaven, it is surprisingly…strange, or not natural.
For instance, can you pass by a mirror without at least glancing at yourself? Most of us can’t.
Man’s self-focus is nothing new. We’ve been doing this since THE FALL in the Garden of Eden, when Adam’s eyes were “opened” to “self” and closed to God.
“Self obsession” can take a couple of forms. On one end of the spectrum is self-confidence…on the other end is self-criticism. The common denominator is “self”.
Self Esteem vs Christ-Esteem.
In our modern, godless society, there is a huge humanistic movement to build SELF-esteem. Those SPEARHEADING this movement understand that there is a PROBLEM in our society, but sadly their “cure” only makes the problem worse. Self esteem is based on a subjective, emotional view of oneself, often in comparison to others.
The self-esteem movement kicked off in earnest by Nathaniel Branden’s book “The Psychology of Self-Esteem“, first published in 1969. This movement roared into popularity in the 1980’s when self-help books became all the rage. Since that time, what began as self-esteem has morphed into something even more serious “other esteem”. With the rise of Social Media, many people have become addicted to the validation from others. They measure their self-worth by how many views, “likes” or positive, affirming comments they receive.
The self esteem/”other esteem” movement is SELF-centered, not CHRIST centered.
- It is not Biblical, but developed in the minds of men opposed to God,
- It is based upon our own perceptions (and others’ perceptions) of ourselves
- It is subject to change.
Our value as human beings should not fluctuate based on our circumstances, age, beauty, money/material possessions, popularity, “success”, likes, shares, positive feedback from others.
Unlike SELF-esteem, CHRIST-esteem is a permanent and endearing quality that is defined by our value to God. God asks us the question..
“Why do you constantly worry so much what other people who are “here today and gone tomorrow” think about YOU? People are like GRASS which fades and whithers away (temporary earthly lives).“
Instead, He suggests we should focus on pleasing THE ONE who gives us LIFE and BREATH….and who loves us UNCONDITIONALLY more than we will EVER be loved by any human-being. We should focus on pleasing THE ONE who DIED in our place to offer us ETERNAL LIFE. – JESUS CHRIST.
Isaiah 51:12: “I, I Myself, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of mortal man, And of a son of man who is made like grass
Isaiah 2:22: Put no more trust in man, who has only the breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?
Rather than striving for greater SELF-esteem, we should strive to understand our value to God. You are so special and loved by ELOHIM that HE even knows the number of hairs on your head at any given moment.🥰
Luke 12:6: Are five sparrows not sold for two coins? And yet not one of them has gone unnoticed in the sight of God. 7 But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not fear; you are more valuable than a great number of sparrows.
I’m just going to speak from experience now as I was one way (SELF-OBSESSED and insecure), and now I am different. The thing that happened in-between was HIM.
Jesus Christ changes everything!
Self-obsession or constant focus on one’s “self” often manifests in one of two ways…either extreme insecurity, depression, self-loathing, anxiety, worry or doubt, or as pride, vanity, greed and narcisism.
It’s the woman (or man) who can never be “thin enough, young enough, pretty enough, tall enough, short enough, smart enough, savvy enough, well dressed enough, you name it.” Just think about the tattoo craze and the plastic surgery addictions. Why? Why do we need all that? Why do we invest thousands and even millions of collective dollars in beautifying, altering, or personalizing our flesh when it’s only going to end up as dust some day? Why do we care so much what other people think about us? Why do we NEED them to “like and share”?
“I often get so preoccupied with obtaining the approval of fickle and imperfect people (like myself!) that I never even give myself a chance to live the amazing life God has planned for me.“
It’s no wonder anxiety, depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse are at an all-time high. We see people on Social Media appearing to “have it all together”, and then we COMPARE our 3 dimensional real personal issues to their 2 dimensional “perfect lives”, and we just don’t “measure up”. Not only that, but the media, entertainment industry, government, educational system…are all telling us one thing. You gotta be “rich, famous, YOUNG, popular, successful, beautiful, buff –PHYSICALLY PERFECT” if you want to “be anything” in this world.
Otherwise, you’re just a big, huge NOBODY.
The sin of comparison has a huge, NEGATIVE effect on all people, but especially on YOUNG people who are just discovering how they fit into the world. Comparing oneself to a photo-shopped, air-brushed picture of a model is never going to yield good results. Young people battle anorexia, bulimia, and other disorders trying to achieve the unachievable.
Christian author Ann Voskamp wrote about how the sin of comparison is killing us. We use comparison like a measuring stick, assessing our own worthiness based on others’ victories or failures, beating ourselves or one another down with it. She writes:
“Comparison is a thug that robs your joy. But it’s even more than that — Comparison makes you a thug who beats down somebody – or your soul.
Scales always lie. They don’t make a scale that ever told the truth about value, about worth, about significance.
And the thing about measuring sticks, girl? Measuring sticks try to rank some people as big and some people as small — but we aren’t sizes. We are souls. There are no better people or worse people — there are only God-made souls. There is no point trying to size people up, no point trying to compare – because souls defy measuring.”
When we compare, we’re essentially telling God that what he created wasn’t good enough.
Comparison is at its core selfish and prideful because it takes the focus off God and others and keeps it on ourselves. When the world looks at us, we want them to “see someone special”, someone as good as, or better than “fill in the blank”. An obsession with “self” and fleshly comparison causes us to feel ungrateful, unsatisfied, unhappy, envious or prideful, greedy and narcisistic. Basically – miserable. As stated above, it can lead some people into very dangerous eating disorders, shopping disorders, and even addiction to invasive Plastic Surgery.
“In our appearance-driven society, it is common for people to have a few things that they don’t like or would change about their looks.However, for a subset of these individuals, no amount of cosmetic intervention will satisfy the picture of perfection they have in mind. They are preoccupied with how they look, but in a negative way – seeing themselves to be ugly, malformed, misshapen, or hideous. This intense insecurity is often caused by body dysmorphic disorder.“
“This unattainable desire to reach some kind of physical perfect can lead to plastic surgery addiction. —not a clinical diagnosis, but a compulsion to continuously alter one’s appearance with cosmetic surgery.“
“In addition to the physical and mental health concerns associated with plastic surgery addiction, it has also been connected to opioid abuse. Cosmetic procedures are often debilitating and opioid painkillers are commonly prescribed for postoperative pain and discomfort. Depending on the surgery, the wounds can take weeks or even months to heal, which means prolonged use of the highly addictive drugs. Those suffering from plastic surgery addiction are at an additional heightened risk for opioid abuse due to their poor image and low self-esteem. Thus, opioid medications become both a physical and emotional pain reliever for the patient, prompting the development of another addiction.“
I’m going to share a personal story, something that happened to friends of our family when I was just a child. My mother had a very best friend (Lee) she grew up with in High School. Now, this friend was not very pretty and was not in the “popular crowd” because she was very overweight. About 15 years after Graduation, Lee and her husband attended a 15 year High School reunion with my mom and dad. Lee had worked diligently to lose the excess weight in advance of this reunion because she wanted to WOW her former classmates. When the time of the reunion came, nobody noticed, nobody cared. Although thin and physically fit, she did not get the result she was hoping for, the admiration, accolades and respect of her former classmates. Instead, she was ignored. She was devastated. The next day she took her own life in the presence of her three young children. 😥
Now, there were likely other issues at play here (marital issues and mental health)…but this desire and even sometimes obsession to garner attention and praise for OURSELVES from fallible, self-focused people can be EXTREMELY dissapointing and even deadly. Even if our self-betterment efforts “work”, and we gain that which we seek (attention and praise from man), we then wind up with a short-lived exhilaration that lends itself to PRIDE, VANITY, NARCISSISM and even greater SELF-focus…leading us AWAY from GOD.
Self-centeredness, that which leads us AWAY from GOD – whether it is negative or positive, leads to relationship issues, depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addictions…and in some people, suicide.
Removing God from the center stage of our lives, and replacing HIM with the idol of “self”, yields pitiful results.
So much of the disappointments and devastations in our lives could be avoided IF we only TURNED to Jesus, seeking HIS Will (not our own)…seeking HIS GLORY (not our own). But what do we do when we’re lonely, depressed or anxious? We mask our issues with pills, psychotherapy, SELF-help and SELF-improvement books, While there is nothing inherently wrong with trying to improve ourselves, become more healthy, etc, when it becomes our obsession, then “Housten we have a problem”.
The only solution that will bring us lasting happiness and joy is to switch our focus off of “glorifying self” onto to glorifying Christ.
How do we do that? Follow God’s commandments! God knows that we love ourselves….so He tells us “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Loving and focusing on “self” comes naturally…loving “neighbor” takes work. But the beauty in God’s commandment is that when we are loving neighbor then our focus can change from SELF to OTHERS. Now, sometimes we even do THIS as a way to garner thanks and praise for ourselves….but if we place no expectations on our neighbor and genuinely do it out of kindness, compassion, and love….doesn’t that just FEEL good? Doesn’t it make US just a little bit happier to help someone who is in need?
Focusing on others blesses both them and us!
Focusing on YHWH/YAHUSHUA (JESUS) is also a huge, huge blessing as it completley takes the focus off of ourselves and all of our problems and issues and puts it back where it belongs….on God’s Eternal and perfect attributes. This is why I love to pray alone in my room where there are no distractions and my fallen human mind won’t drift off to “What’s so and so thinking about me”.
Being able to worship YHWH in Spirit and truth is like BREATHING in FRESH AIR. It’s like being released from a small prison cell and DELIVERED into a wide open space. It’s like the chains of our own reflection has been broken off us, and we are FREE! Free to ROAR and SOAR!! In Elohim (Father/Son/Holy Spirit), we move, we breathe, we LIVE. It feels incredibly GOOD to focus on God and not on the sorrows and pain of this life. It is a REFRESHMENT to our souls.
While we remain in this fallen world in our fallen human bodies, there will always be a struggle between SELF-will and God’s Will. For many, “self” will RULE, leading them to sorrow, sadness, suffering and death. For others, YHWH will pluck them out of the kingdom of darkness like a brand snatched out of the fire. Belief and trust that Jesus Christ paid for all of our sins and that He rose from the dead 3 days later changes everything. Born again Believers in Yahushua (Jesus) have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling inside, who can and will direct us to move our attention OFF of self and onto YHWH and His Laws of LOVE. God’s Spirit breaks the power of the sin nature which is an ENORMOUS blessing. We, as Christ followers, don’t have to defeat our selfish human nature ALONE. We have HELP! Our “job” is to yield to the prompting of God’s Ruach, His BREATH of LIFE (Holy Spirit)! God’s Spirit will help us avoid the pitfalls of comparison, envy, narcissism, SELF-obsession and SELF-loathing.
When we do this…we will find PEACE and REST for our souls. 🕊
1 Samuel 16:7: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”💖
We are in the Last Days. The Bible tells us that this self-obsession that has always been a part of our fallen, human condition (clinging vines of the fall🌿) will be extremely heightened in the Last Days.
Why is self-obsession heightened in the Last days?
Because this HUMAN CONDITION that propels us into misery and lonliness is exacerbated by the unseen realm of demons and demonic powers who KNOW they have but a short time left to influence mankind and drag them down to the pit. They FEED off of SELF OBSESSION, so they greatly ENCOURAGE it. They whisper into our ears 👂..”You’re not pretty enough”, OR “So and so is prettier than you…. If you had her eyes, her lips, her body….you would be noticed.” Or..”YOU are not successful enough, spend more time at work, make more money, etc”...They also whisper the opposite, which is equally as destructive…..”Wow, YOU are the prettiest girl alive, I bet all other girls WISH they were like YOU”….and “YOU’RE the most handsome and strong man, I bet all the girls will fall over themselves whenever YOU walk in the room“.
Dying to self is never portrayed in Scripture as something “optional” in the Christian life. As believers we are to “take up our cross daily” and follow Christ. It is our “daily cross” that makes us weep more than any other thing… that makes us cry out like Jesus, “Father, why is this?”… that causes us to run to Christ and put our arms around Him… that makes us sick of earth and self… and that gives us a longing for heaven. Said Paul: “I die every day!” (1 Cor 15:31).
What can we do?
Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul?
The goal of death to self and daily cross-bearing is “fellowship with Christ.” The goal of life for the believer is to “seek God” and make Him their all in all, their last end. Jeff Alexander suggests the following five ways that we embrace the cross —
1. Humiliation – This is the essence of the Christ-life. Here God uses reproaches, abuse, poverty, loneliness, persecution, distress, seeming failure, disappointments, and the like. These things succeed when they cause us to lose our own will and let God take charge.
2. Reject the praise of men – Self thrives on praise and adulation; self-esteem is the hotbed of the self-life.
3. Embrace simplicity and child-likeness – Self feeds on things grand and glorious; Christ-likeness is child-like and simple.
4. Live by pure faith – Self depends on outward assurances; living by pure faith trusts the Word of God even when there is no indication of God’s presence or blessing.
5. Seek our nothingness and His all-ness – We must make a daily habit to distrust ourselves, our own wisdom, and our strength, and look to Christ alone for what we need.
6. Seek God’s glory, not our own, building up HIS Kingdom, not our own. Our “little kingdoms” won’t last anyway. Here today..and POOF…gone tomorrow. But God’s Kingdom will last FOREVER!
Dying to self means LIVING FOR CHRIST.🙂
Dietrich Bonhoeffer — When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die (bid his old selfish nature goodbye).
Charles Spurgeon — I have now concentrated all my prayers into one… that I may die to self, and live wholly to Him.
Martin Luther — Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.
J. I. Packer — Jesus Christ demands self-denial, that is, self-negation, as a necessary condition of discipleship. Self-denial is a summons to submit to the authority of God as Father and of Jesus as Lord…. Accepting death to everything that carnal self wants to possess is what Christ’s summons to self-denial is all about.
Thomas a Kempis — The more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God. D. L. Moody — Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.
Arthur Pink — Growth in grace… is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves. It is a deep- ening realization of our nothingness.
Ignatius — Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him.
Richard Sibbes— Self-emptiness prepares us for spiritual fullness.
Richard Baxter — Self is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world. Of all other vices, it is both the hardest to find out, and the hardest to cure.
Vance Havner — Some missionaries bound for Africa were laughed at by the boat captain who said, “You’ll only die over there!” Replied a missionary: “Captain, we died before we started.”
Remember, if you are a Christ-follower, then you are no longer a “me”, you are a we”, meaning that you are joined with your husband/bride-groom (JESUS CHRIST)..and the two SHALL become ONE. God tells us that it is “not good for man to be alone” .
Two are better than one..💖
John 12:27: “Now My soul has become troubled; and what am I to say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Matthew 5:16: Your light must shine before people insuch a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Philippians 2:3: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.
When we focus on GLORIFYING JESUS CHRIST and not self…..THEN we will have the PEACE of the LORD that surpasses ALL understanding!💖