Saturday, January 2, 2016

Self-Esteem VS Humility

Today’s Epistle Reading: St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 5:4-10 - BRETHREN, one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek." In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
There is a great difference between genuine Christian humility and what the world calls self-esteem. I have often thought, and taught, that we can create our own depression be falling trap to the world’s definition of self-esteem. The world, because it is fallen and based upon the fallen passions which are self-oriented, teaches that we should strive to always think positive thoughts about ourselves, sometimes to the denial of truth. Popular expressions such as, “You can accomplish whatever you want, so long as you work hard,” or my least favorite, “You can be whatever you want. Just put your mind to it.”

THIS IS A LIE, and when the lie is proven false (when we can’t accomplish something or be something JUST because we want something) we get depressed. The depression creates low self-esteem, as defined by the world, and we begin to think we are unworthy of love and blessings. We sink lower and lower until eventually we lose hope. All this depression could have been avoided by having genuine Christian humility. Before I continue, please understand I am not addressing chemical depression. Chemically induced depression is quite real and can paralyze a person for no good reason. I am addressing what more commonly could be called “the blues” which is not treated the same, but I will leave chemically induced depression to be discussed by medical professionals. I believe other forms of depression are created when we believe the lie the devil has told us rather than the truth which is revealed by Christ.

Tomorrow in the Gospel lesson for the Sunday before Epiphany we will hear directly from Saint John the Baptist’s lips what genuine Christian humility sounds like. “"After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (Mark 1.7) Saint John the Baptist, whom Jesus Christ said there was no other man greater who had been born of a woman, felt himself unworthy to even untie the sandals of Jesus, a job normally reserved for the lowest slave. How can a man greater than any other man consider himself unworthy of the work of the lowest slave?

Saint John the Baptist understood genuine Christian humility, also described by Saint Paul in today’s Epistle reading. “One does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God.” It wasn’t that John the Baptist wasn’t great, because he was. He understood honor and blessings are not to be taken, but offered by one who is greater. This was no false sense of humility, as many express in today’s world. Many today have the pretense of humility while secretly believing themselves to be worthy of praise.

So how does genuine Christian humility protect against depression? When we believe the lie that we are great and can accomplish whatever we desire, and then fall short of our desires, depression is the result. However when we understand our own shortcomings and that we should never take honor with pride to ourselves, and then fall short, we are better equipped to accept our shortcomings.

In this New Year, I invite you to embrace the humility of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Paul, rather than the lies of a self-oriented worldly self-esteem. Then be thankful for your blessings and understand your shortcomings. You will have more peace and well on your way to Live A New Life In Christ.

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