By Beth Hyduke

Is having self-confidence biblical? Is it a sin to be confident in our abilities? The Bible teaches that everything we have is a gift from God. God gives us all good things (1 Timothy 6:17), including faith (Ephesians 2:8), grace (James 4:6), wisdom (Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5), and even life itself (Isaiah 42:5).

The gifts we have received are not ours to waste or flaunt, but they were given to us by God for the purpose of serving Him and others. It is these God-given talents and abilities that Paul speaks of in Romans 12:5-8:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
There are a few clear lessons to take from this scripture. First of all, this passage implies that the men are fully aware of their talents; that is how they are able to know how best to serve. So we can draw from this then, that it is acceptable, even necessary, to determine what one's talents are, and which areas of his life God has blessed him with an affinity or skill. The second thing that should stick out at us like a sore thumb is that the gifts are only a means to an end. Read it again and listen to all the "let him's"! As many times as a gift is mentioned, there is a responsibility to serve that is attached to it. In the world, pride blows its own horn merely to gain glory for itself, whereas the Christian familiarizes himself with his strengths as a point of praise and worship to the God that gave them, and to put those talents and abilities to work in service.

In other words, there's a world of difference between celebrating one's own merits and honestly assessing one's skills out of a desire to use them for good. In both cases, the person is talented and knows it; what makes the first example sinful is the focus on self. Our talents should always be viewed in light of God who gave them and who gave them for a good purpose. If we choose to put God out of the picture so we can focus on how talented, athletic, generous, merciful, etc. we are, or if we choose not to use the gifts to honor God in service, we sin impertinently and pridefully.

Doing right is like walking a tightrope; if you lean or misstep to either side you will lose balance and fall. Having low self-esteem — feeling worthless, insignificant, and valueless — is a sin too. It's the sin on the other side of the tightrope. Interestingly, just like pride, low self-esteem stems from a dishonest estimation of our inherent worth. A proud person feels that their talents and abilities are superior to others' and that makes them better than other people. A person with low self-esteem feels that their talents and abilities are inferior or lacking and therefore they must be worth less than other people. But the Bible teaches us that personal value does not come from what we can offer or what we can do, but from God. That is why it is possible to have high "self-esteem" but not be proud. Self-worth comes from believing God when He tells us that we are "...precious in My sight, You have been honored and I have loved you..." (Isaiah 43:4), that we are "children of God...heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16-17), and that we are "chosen by God and precious" (1 Peter 2:4). Focusing on self is the primary cause of both pride and low self-esteem; focusing on God and what He has done is the only cure for both.

Children need to be taught, and we all need to reminded of, these awesome truths. We are totally dependent on God who has created each of us uniquely and given us every good thing so that we might use them to do good and glorify Him. What a liberating truth that takes the pressure off each of us to perform perfectly or compete successfully with others. And how refreshing a thing to teach a child in this day and age where vanity, prowess, winning, and self-reliance are all held up as idols to be chased while living a life in service to others is scorned. In the Christian walk, God does not require you to become famous or skilled or look a certain way. God only asks that you serve Him faithfully and whole-heartedly in whatever you do. God has "...appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain..." (John 15:16).

I can't help but think of Eric Liddell, the Scottish athlete-turned-missionary whose world record-breaking legacy is chronicled in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. When questioned about his athletic prowess, he did not deny that he was a good runner or suppress his talents out of false humility or fear of being thought proud. But neither did he use the limelight as a forum to boast in his abilities like so many athletes today. He embraced the talent God had clearly given him, and used it to bring glory to God and to show others the joy that comes of living a life focused on the Creator of all good things. "God made me fast," he once famously said, "and when I run, I feel His pleasure."

Image Credit: elkhiki; "Un derniner rouleau"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Controversial-Issues  | God-Father

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Published on 11-1-16