Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 23

65. Self-esteem is the replacing of a purpose which accords with God by another purpose which is contrary to the divine. For a man full of self-esteem pursues virtue not for God’s glory but for his own, and so purchases with his labors the worthless praise of men.

As a rule, the Fathers have little positive to say about self-esteem, which seems odd when compared to most of what we hear everywhere around us today. Of course, they would also consider the destructiveness that often flows from what we call a low self-esteem today an illness of the soul that needs to be healed. But the balm would not be to replace it with a high self-esteem, which carries its own destructive patterns. Rather, it seems to me that they would characterize the central problem as self-esteem itself. Whether that esteem is high or low, it is still focused on ourselves and that is the true problem.

We need to learn to esteem Christ and through him, learn to see the truth about ourselves. Both are very difficult things to do.

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