“The Bible says, ‘Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self (…)“It is about becoming what God created you to be” (Rick Warren, “The Purpose Driven Life” pg: 19). The passage he quotes is Matthew 16:25. The translation (or paraphrase) is from The Message.
However, the translation Warren uses is The Message, and is a poor one at that, a more correct rendering of Matthew 16:25 is this —
The New King James reads “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
This verse which taken in context, has more to do with our suffering when following our Lord, than how to build our self esteem and finding our own self. Warren has taken the above scripture completely out of context to build a philosophy that man’s self esteem is what God is interested in. Let’s look at the above verse in context shall we, remembering that the Lord was talking to his disciples (we too are His disciples) about his coming suffering.
Mat 16:22-26: And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?
How shall we follow? By becoming a servant and by sacrificing our selves. Before Christ had said this, Peter had advised Jesus to spare himself from the coming suffering. Jesus answered by saying you must deny yourself and lose your life! What does deny yourself and losing your life really mean? Let’s look at what the bible says about sacrifice:
Phi 2:6-7 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.
Matthew Henry: The first call of a disciple was to follow Christ A true disciple of Christ is one that doth follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that comes after Christ, not one that prescribes to him, as Peter now undertook to do, forgetting his place (…) We must deny ourselves absolutely, we must not admire our own shadow, nor gratify our own humour; we must not lean to our own understanding, nor seek our own things, nor be our own end.
We should not be looking for our true self as Warren has asked us to do. But let us look towards the cross to exercise denial of self, so that we shall not boast but in Christ alone. Our flesh and blood looks for the carnal self, it is a battle between the flesh and spirit. Our own self will only lead to our demise and to follow mans wisdom over Gods. Don’t follow your self, but follow only Christ, pick up your cross daily.
Deny oneself in Greek means to deny utterly, that is, disown, abstain: – deny. to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests. Does Warrens insight differ to scripture when he tell us to love ourselves, and to nuture our self esteem.
Warren@Ladies Home Journal March 2005, page 36 “Learn To Love Yourself! Self-esteem still wobbly after all these years? These five simple truths will show you that you don’t need to be perfect to be priceless….Accept yourself…God accepts us unconditionally (Remember he’s talking to unbelievers)…Love yourself…Be true to yourself…Forgive yourself. God doesn’t expect perfection, but he does insist on honesty…Believe in yourself…You can believe what others say about you, or you can believe in yourself as does God, who says you are truly acceptable, lovable, valuable and capable,”
If I was to love myself, then I would become a lover of self, Paul warns against this in 2Tim 3:2.
If I was to accept myself, then I would not have a problem with myself and would not be looking toward where to attain much needed forgiveness.
If I was true to myself, then I would justify my sins because I am truly a sinner.
If I was to forgive myself first, then there would be no room for my need to look towards the forgiveness of God.