The child was lost, separated from his royal parents during a storm; he’d fallen from the carriage when they crossed the swollen river and had been swept away. They’d searched desperately but no sign of him had been found. Years passed but still the king would not give up hope. He was certain his son would be found and returned to him. His best men were assigned the task and he was confident one day they would return triumphant.
The boy, soaking wet and nearly drowned, had been rescued several miles down river by a passing slave trader. The rushing river had nearly stripped him of all of his clothes leaving nothing to mark him as prince. He’d been sold to a tavern keeper of whom the nicest thing that could be said was that he stopped the beatings before any bones were broken. The boy was grown now and the bar-keep loved to tell how he’d been careful to not break the body while he’d broken the spirit, turning him from an almost cocky youngster to the finest servant he’d ever had.
Until the fateful day the king’s soldiers had stopped at the tavern on their return trip. For over ten years they’d searched for what seemed in vain. Most had lost any hope but one, the king’s most trusted knight and lifelong friend. As they waited for their meal, the tavern keeper couldn’t help but notice the way the big knight watched the boy. Taking advantage of a new audience, he began once again to brag of his iron fist of dominance. As the knight asked questions, the inn-keep answered freely thinking how his story must impress this warrior. The knight called the boy over for a closer look. As he looked into the young face, he saw a perfect reflection of one he’d once known in a childhood friend. The inn-keeper continued to smile as the boy stood in complete submission before the two men. "Raise your sleeve”, the knight spoke quietly. The boy complied at once, as he’d been trained, revealing a crescent shaped birthmark on the inside of his arm. Immediately, the knight gave a great shout of joy and knelt before the boy saying, “God has greatly favored us today! The lost prince has been found.”
Now imagine the prince returned to his rightful place as heir. Would he still think of himself as less than anyone in value? Despite his abuse, he would know his worth with certainty. You too are a restored lost child of the king; know your true value. A healthy self-love is a critical component to being able to love others and maintain healthy relationships.Self-esteem is not conceit. Jesus fully knew His worth yet He was anything but prideful. He walked always in humility, which we are called to do, but understand “humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”. (CS Lewis)
Destructive versions of self-love come in two extremes: arrogance and inadequacy. Both are harmful keeping our thoughts centered on ourselves. In one we compare ourselves to others feeling superior while with the other we compare ourselves and feel inferior. Neither extreme reflects the heart of the Father.
If you struggle with inferiority, speak truth to your heart:
1. Recognize your value- The Creator of the universe does not make junk. When you put yourself down you are belittling God’s workmanship.
2. Change your thinking- Stop harmful thought patterns when they come and replace them with positive ones.
3. Forgive yourself- Inherent in forgiving others is learning to forgive ourselves. Confessed sins are forgiven and forgotten. No one can go back and make a brand new start but we can all start today and make a brand new ending.
4. Memorize scripture- Study scripture that tells of your worth to God such as Isaiah 43:1, Psalms 139:13-14 and Galatians 2:20.
If you struggle with superiority, speak truth to your heart:
1. Recognize the limits of your value- You are not God, just another fallen human. Take yourself down off the pedestal and join the rest of the redeemed.
2. Change your thinking- Stop self-inflated thought patterns when they come and replace them with balanced ones.
3. Let go of perfection- Release the belief that to be important means being perfect; admit your weakness to yourself and others.
4. Memorize scripture- Study scripture that tells of your place and warns of the dangers of pride such as Isaiah 66:2, Luke 16:15 and Psalms 8:3-4.
With a healthy amount of self-love you will be confident in your value as a child of the King balanced by an understanding that your greatness is not of you but comes through you from God. With humility you will be able to use your unique gifts and talents to serve the kingdom and bring glory to the king of Kings.
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