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The Self-esteem Lie

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2022 7:00 pm

The Self-esteem Lie

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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May 8, 2022 7:00 pm

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I have your Bibles with you today. Turn with me, if you would, to the 20th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. We're going to be looking at verses 20 through 28 today.

He said to them, Now with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we have many that are sick and infirmed right now that need your help. We pray for Bev Dowdy's sister Cindy, as she's going to be operated on with a knee operation that has to take place this Tuesday.

Be with her in power. My brother Ray Green, who is having stents replaced in his arteries this Wednesday, Lord, be with him and may that stent replacement go well. I lift up Wanda Abercrombie to you, that you would preserve her life.

Nicole Loce and Linda McCatherin, Steve Parkhill's brother Jim. We pray for your healing touch on all of these. Father, today is Mother's Day. We are here to worship you, but we're also here to honor our moms.

I pray for our moms today. The culture in current America has made motherhood more difficult. We're being told that two men living together as a couple can rear children with the same wisdom, the same heart, and the same direction as a real father and mother.

It's a diabolical lie. You made mothers different than fathers, not only physically, but emotionally and socially different. Our children need that godly feminine perspective and touch. We look today at the mother of two of the most godly disciples of Christ to ever live. May we learn from her.

May we learn from her mistakes as well as from her successes. I pray for the moms in this church. Give them endurance. Give them patience.

Give them the ability to live Christ-like before their kids. Lord, bless our service today. Open our eyes, open our hearts, and open our ears. Keep my lips from error, for it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. I chose for my text today Matthew chapter 20 verses 20 through 28. The mother of James and John have come to Jesus to make a request of him. And she says to Jesus, I want my boys to sit at your right hand and your left hand in your kingdom. In other words, I want you to make much of my sons. I want you to honor my sons.

I want you to proclaim to the world how special my sons really are. Now today is Mother's Day. And I'll grant you about half the pastors across America today are going to be preaching from Proverbs chapter 31. The excellent wife.

And what will they preach? They will preach what she was like. Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies? Her husband honors her in the gate. Her children rise up and call her blessed.

They will say, here she is, ladies. That's your ideal. She's super mom. Now go out and be super mom.

You ought to be the best cook in your community. Your children should never get out of line. Your husband should always be in perfect agreement with you because you have the virtue of Mary. You have the wisdom of Solomon. You have the patience of Job. You have the endurance of Paul. So get out there, moms.

Be a super mom. That's your ideal. And the ladies in their churches are sitting there thinking, who's he talking about? He's not talking about me. I'm not like that.

I got a long way to go. I understand that. So today I'm using an illustration about a godly mom, a devoted mom, a good mom. But she's not a perfect mom. She's not super mom. And that's not what you're called to be.

So I'm not going to tell you to go get them super mom. I'm going to share with you some things I think are important. Now I realize that this sounds maybe a little bit negative, but I'm going to use a negative illustration today. And I think that's important because in this passage we find out about what a mom can do even though she's not a perfect mom. You said, Doug, you're using an illustration on Mother's Day about a woman who made a mistake and really messed up.

What can be positive about that? Well, here we have an imperfect mom who has an improper motive, who makes an ill-advised decision, and yet she raises two of the most godly kids to have ever walked the face of this earth. She raises up kids who turn the world upside down for Christ. One of them is James. James was the first martyr as an apostle, the very first Christian martyr.

And then there's John, who becomes the pastor at the church in Ephesus, and who wrote the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, and the book of Revelation. That's hope for every Christian mom. God's grace is greater than our sin. Where sin rules, God overt rules. God hasn't called you to be supermom. He has called you to be Christian mom. That's important for us to see that you don't have to be a Virgin Mary.

You don't have to be a Susanna Wesley. You just have to love the Lord. Love the Lord and be obedient to the Lord and love your children and point your children to Christ and discipline your children. Moms, what we need to see in this passage is that there is great hope for you. Six points I want to share with you this morning.

Point one, the worldly request. Look at verses 20 through 21. Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked him for something. And he said to her, What do you want? And she said to him, Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand, one at your left, in your kingdom.

So I want you to picture this scene. Zebedee's wife, John and James' mother, go up to Jesus. She kneels down before Christ. She is down on her knees looking up at Jesus. It is the position showing utmost respect for Jesus. Jesus looks down at her and he says, Ma'am, what do you want? And there's no hymn hauling, there's no halting at all, no hesitation. She has an agenda, and immediately she says, I want my boys to sit on your right hand and your left hand in your kingdom.

That's what I want. She's asking for glory and honor for her sons. She's also manipulating. She's trying to butter Jesus up. I think it's interesting that in the Gospel of Mark, Mrs. Zebedee is not even mentioned. Now the boys are mentioned, and the boys say pretty much the same thing that Mrs. Zebedee is saying here. Mark chapter 10, verse 35, the boys say this, Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.

I've got 14 grandkids, and I've seen that trick lots of times. Papa Doug, we want you to do something for us. I say, okay, what is it? No promises, you'll do it first. And I say, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm not going to fall for that one. I'm not going to fall for that because that can get you in trouble.

I'm not going to write them a blank check and sign it, because that will lead to disaster. But Mark's Gospel lets us know that this is a conspiracy. It was not just Mama who wanted the boys to have this seat of honor. It was also the boys themselves.

And the fact that they were asking for a blank check lets you know that this is not really a legitimate need. Jesus later dealt with this very problem in Matthew chapter 23, verse 6, when he talked about the sin of the Pharisees, and he said the Pharisees loved the place of honor at the feast, and they wanted the best seats in the synagogue. Later, in 3 John chapter 9, John's an elderly pastor by this time, and he's learned this lesson, he's learned it well.

And he speaks of a guy named Diotrephes, and this is what he says, I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. Well, where do we draw the line? Was Mrs. Zebedee wrong? Was it wrong for us to want our children to excel? No, it certainly is not wrong for us to want them to excel. But there's a difference in seeking greatness and seeking excellence. There's a difference in seeking self-esteem and seeking self-worth.

A huge difference. The psychiatrists tell us that we need to build self-esteem into our children. That will give them confidence. And if they have that confidence, they'll be able to believe in themselves and go out and do anything. It's not what you want your children to think. That's a false pride.

It was the Lord himself who said in Proverbs chapter 16, verse 18, pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. There was an international math test that was given several years ago, and these students from ten different countries, high school students, were given this math test. And when it was all over, the Chinese students had the highest scores in math of all the ten.

The United States students had the lowest scores of the ten. Then they did a psychological test, checking on self-esteem. And the U.S. students had the highest self-esteem, and the Chinese students had the lowest self-esteem. So what does that say? It says the U.S. kids were the worst students, but they thought they were the best. It says the Chinese students were the best students, but they thought they were the worst. Now which would you rather have?

Why has this happened? Because we push self-esteem instead of self-worth. We push public greatness rather than godly excellence. Romans chapter 12 and verse 3 says this, For by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. I would submit to you that one of the great things that you can do for your child is to get away from self-esteem and build into that child self-worth. And that self-worth is what? That's letting your child know that he has worth because he was created in the image of God. He has worth because he belongs to Jesus. He has worth because that which he does for God's glory can bring Jesus great glory. So Christians should not seek for personal greatness, but for personal excellence for the glory of God.

All right, point two, the penetrating question. Look at verse 22. Jesus answered, You do not know what you're asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink? And they said to him, We are able.

What a powerful question. Do you know what you're asking for, Jesus said? To sit at the right hand and the left hand in his kingdom will require that James and John drink of my cup. What is Jesus' cup? His cup is a cup of suffering and death.

Folks, that's important. At this point in their spiritual journey, James and John are looking at the crown. They're not looking at the cross. But Jesus said, If any man be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. Folks, that had not really sunk in at this point in the ministry of James and John.

They hadn't got that yet. You see, so far things have been relatively calm and relatively peaceful for James and John. Jesus has been teaching powerfully. He has been casting out demons. He has been healing the sick. He's been doing amazing things. And the people in Israel have been helped and they've been healed and they've been blessed. And there have been a few bumps in the road, but not a whole lot.

Things have been relatively easy up to this point in time. But Jesus knows what's coming. He knows it's getting ready to get tough. James and John don't know it.

Mrs. Zebedee don't know it. But Jesus knows exactly what they're going to have to endure. He says, Can you drink of my cup? What did James and John say?

Yes, we are able! That reminds me of Peter on the night before the crucifixion. Jesus says, All the disciples are going to scatter. All of you are going to take off and leave me and run and leave me by myself. And Peter jumps up and says, Not me, Lord.

I don't know about these other guys. I'd never do that. I'd go to prison for you. I would die for you, but I'd never deny you. Jesus said, Peter, before the cock crows twice, before this night is over, you'll deny me three times. And Peter did just that. It takes us to point three, the prophetic reality. Look at verse 23. He said to them, You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and my left is not mine to grant.

But it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father. The cup, like I said, represents suffering and death. The cup for Jesus was the cross.

The cup for James was the sword. Not just a few months after Jesus was crucified, James was killed by the sword. He was decapitated.

They cut his head off. John was a little different. John lived for probably 70 to 75 years after Jesus was crucified.

John was beaten many, many times. He was thrown into a vat of boiling oil, and he lived through it. But he was the only apostle that was not martyred for his faith. He was a man that went and loved the Lord with all of his heart, was willing to suffer for the Lord.

They ended up taking him to the island of Patmos, and he was there for probably a few years. And while he was there in exile, he wrote the book of Revelation. So James and John, they are traveling different routes. They are going on different paths, but yet their calling is the same. Ministry different, the calling's the same. And what was the calling? The calling was the cross.

What does that mean? It means death to self. John MacArthur said this about the cross. He said, Either because they completely misunderstood what Jesus meant, or because, like Peter, promising never to forsake Christ, they self confidently thought they could endure anything required of them, James and John foolishly declared, We are able. And just as Peter denied the Lord three times before the cock crowed, two brothers, along with the other disciples, fled for their lives when Jesus was arrested. No doubt with great tenderness and compassion, the Lord then assured the brothers, My cup you shall drink, that it would not be in their own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, that they would suffer greatly for their master's sake.

Alright, point four is the typical response. We see that in verse 24. And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. What were the other disciples mad about? What were the other ten angry about? What were they mad because this request that Miss Zebedee and James and John had made was an ungodly request? That's not what they were mad about at all. They were mad because they didn't get to ask first. They were mad because they wanted to do the very same thing that they're mad at James and John and Miss Zebedee about.

Kind of like little children fighting over the biggest piece of candy. Just a short time before this, Jesus was walking together with his disciples to Capernaum, and he was listening to the conversations that they were having. And it's very interesting what they were talking about.

In Matthew 9, verses 33 through 34, we have that statement. And they came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house, he asked them, what were you discussing on the way? But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.

The discussion was about who was the greatest. They should have been ashamed of themselves. And they were ashamed of themselves.

Well, they should have been. Folks, people who try to come off as being more intelligent or more athletic or more charming or more knowledgeable or more beautiful or more handsome, we tend to just not gravitate to those people. We don't like that. We hate it when we see pride in others. But we kind of gloss over it, don't we, when we see pride in ourselves.

And most of the time, when there's pride in ourselves, we're so deceived that we don't even see it. Every time I read this passage about James and John and their mom, I get a little bit disgusted. I think to myself, man, they walked with Jesus.

They were close to him. They should have known better than this. Why are they so concerned about being significant?

Why does it matter to them so much about being made much of? And to me, that's just insidious, and I don't like it. Let me tell you why I don't like it, because I see it in myself.

That's why I don't like it. Cindy and I will get home from a worship service on Sunday night. We'll be talking. Cindy will say, man, that sermon that Eugene preached was a great sermon.

She said, in fact, I'd like to hear that again. Could you get me a CD of Eugene's sermon tonight? And I'll think to myself, well, wait a minute.

I preached this morning, and you didn't ask me for a CD of my sermon. What am I, chopped liver? Why do I think like that?

Here's the answer. I like to be made much of. I dislike it when I see it in others, but I like to be honored. I like for people to like me.

I like to be honored. So where's the hope? Point five, the godly guidance. Look at verse 25 through 27. Jesus makes a comparison and a contrast.

He said this is the way the world operates, and it kind of lays it out for us. Seek for personal greatness. Step on people to get to the top. Demand to be honored to be made much of.

Fish for compliments. Hunger for status and recognition. That's the way the world operates. They believe that the road to true happiness is that road, and if you want to be content, then you've got to have the approval and the acceptance of people. Theologians have a term for that sin.

They call it the fear of man. Here's the contrast. We see it again.

Let me just read verse 26 again. I was watching the NFL draft. It's been several years ago now. There was a young man from Romania who had played football at University of Iowa, and his name was Trinca Posit, and he had lived in Romania several years ago, and his dad defected.

They were living under the regime of Nicolau Ceausescu, a very oppressive regime. They came to America, and he got a scholarship to Iowa to play football and was so good at it, now he was going to the NFL, getting ready to make millions of dollars. And they told the story on draft night on TV. And then they called him up, and they said, we want to ask you some questions about your dad and how he raised you and how he helped you to be a success. And he said, can you tell us? And he said, yes, this was our family motto. This was our family motto.

We're the first to serve and be the last to be served. He said, that's what my dad taught me. His dad taught him the same thing that Jesus is teaching James and John and teaching Mrs. Zebedee here. If you want real success, be a servant. Live your life not for yourself but for others. Put others above yourself. Seek to uplift others.

Make others your priority. Ever heard of William Booth? William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army, a great man of God, loved the Lord. He was on his deathbed.

They had him in a hospital. And it just so happened that they were having the Salvation Army annual convention at the same city where this hospital was. And so he was getting ready to die, not far off from death at all, and they sent a representative over to talk to him.

The representative came over and said, William Booth, we need to ask you a question. Would you be willing to just share something to help us out, to give us some insight, to give us a punch to move on ahead with the Salvation Army? And he said, yes, go back and tell them one word, and that one word was this, others.

Others. He said, that's what the Salvation Army has always been about, and that's what I want it to continue to be about others. Sometimes that's the key to rearing happy and successful children, developing them, a servant's heart.

From day one, turn their hearts to God first, and then to others second. We think showering our kids with material blessings and building self-esteem into them is going to make them happy. It doesn't make them happy.

It makes them selfish. Thirty-two years ago, my buddy John Key gave me the statement that I'm going to share with you here today, and it was 32 years ago, still very, very relevant today. It was 12 steps to raise a juvenile delinquent, and it was put out by the Houston, Texas, police department.

Listen to this. Number one, begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way, he'll grow up to believe the world owes him a living. Two, when he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute. Three, never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he's 21, then let him decide for himself.

Four, avoid the use of wrong. He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later when he's arrested that society is against him, and he's being persecuted. Five, pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced and throw in all responsibility on others. Six, take his part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They're all prejudice against your child. Seven, quarrel frequently in the presence of your children.

In this way, they won't be so shocked when the home is broken up later. Eight, give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own money. Nine, satisfies every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that his every sensual desire is gratified. Ten, let him read any printed material, listen to any music he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage. Eleven, when he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, I could never do anything with him. Twelve, prepare for a life of grief.

You will likely have it. Wow. My dad was one of the most unselfish people that I've ever known.

He taught us what the Bible says about ministering to others and putting others before yourself, but more than just teaching us about that, I watched his life and he lived it. I remember a year before my dad passed away, I took him to the dentist, and we went to the dentist and our dentist said, Dutch, we need to pull one of your back teeth, and he said, I would suggest that you have an implant put in there because it's going to be hard to chew if you don't do that. And my dad looked at him and said, how much is that implant going to cost?

And he said, $2,500, and that's kind of the low estimate, probably be a good bit more than that. My dad said, I think I'll pass. Well, we got in the car and I said, Dad, I said, you need that tooth, and you got the money.

I said, go for it. And Dad said, listen, he said, I'm old. I'm getting older. And he said, I probably won't live too much longer. And he said, if I spend that money on a tooth, it'll be there and gone, but if I leave the money in the bank, then I can leave it for your mom, and that'll help her through life. And I thought, wow, that's putting others above yourself. I'll never forget that.

He was more concerned about my mom than he was about his own self. Wow. Point six, the glorious example. Verse 28. Even as the Son of Man came to give his life a ransom, as the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. Pastor friend of mine shared an illustration from a book by David Ireland several years ago, and I love the illustration about the book. It was entitled Letters to an Unborn Child.

The illustration rang my bell, and I got it. And David Ireland said in the book that he had a neurological disease that was going to quickly take his life. At the time that he wrote it, his wife was expecting a baby boy. And what he wanted to do was to write letters to his future son so that when he died and he was gone, his son would know something about him. I want to read to you the first paragraph and then a statement that David makes about his wife. He wants his son to know what kind of mother he's got, and he wants his son to know about the value of servanthood.

Listen carefully. To my only child yet to be born, I am your father. It is unusual for a father to write letters to his unborn child, but then you see I'm not the usual father.

The circumstances of your birth are not usual. Our life together, yours and mine, won't be usual either, for I may have an early appointment with death. You will probably be my only child, and destiny has determined that I must accomplish in words what other fathers do through piggyback rides, birthday parties, and a whole lifetime of simple, everyday signs of love. I don't have a whole lifetime before me, and will not be able to do the familiar things fathers do for their children.

Today, all I know to do is what I'm doing, writing you letters through which you may be able to know me. Your mother is very special. Few men know what it's like to receive appreciation for taking their wives out to dinner, when it entails what it does for us. It means that she has to dress me, shave me, brush my teeth, comb my hair, wheel me out of the house and down the steps, open the garage and put me in the car, take the pedals off the chair, stand me up, sit me in the seat of the car, twist me around so that I'm comfortable, fold the wheelchair, put it in the car, go around to the other side of the car, start it up, back it out, get out of the car, pull the garage door down, get back into the car, drive off to the restaurant.

Then it starts all over again. She gets out of the car and folds the wheelchair, opens the door, spins me around, stands me up, seats me in the wheelchair, pushes the pedals out, closes and locks the door, wheels me into the restaurant and takes the pedals off the wheelchair so I won't be uncomfortable. We sit down to have dinner and she feeds me throughout the entire meal. When it's over, she pays the bill, pushes the wheelchair out to the car again and reverses the same routine.

When it's all over, finished, with real warmth, she'll say, honey, thank you for taking me out to dinner. I never know quite how to answer. Every week, sometimes twice a week, I have to wash my hair. This involves sitting with my shirt off in front of a sink. There's a mirror there and I'm able to look at myself, which otherwise I rarely can. Each time I see my concave chest, my head leaning to the right, the muscles and flesh of my arms and shoulders having slowly disappeared over the past few years, I begin to feel depressed and Joyce will say, oh, don't look. I'm going to take that silly mirror down if you don't stop admiring yourself.

Then perhaps a little later, I may be lying on the bed taking a nap. Your mother will sit down next to me. She'll place my hand in her lap and looking into my eyes with all depths of sincerity, she will say, you're so handsome to me. You're the most handsome man in the world.

I love you so much. And somehow, out of the ancient will of our experience together, I know she means it. That's a glorious picture of the gospel. Folks, Jesus saved us when we were yet sinners. When we were yet sinners, he shed his blood for us. He reconciled us to a holy God. He redeemed us out of the slave market of sin. He appeased the wrath of God against us. He opened our spiritual eyes, our spiritual ears, our spiritual heart.

He changed our nature so that we could yield to him. What did he do for us? He suffered for us. He bled for us.

He died for us. And what do we do in return? We tithe and we complain about it. We teach and then we get mad because we don't get any praise for it.

We give somebody something, and then we get upset because we don't get a thank you note. Folks, let me tell you something. The gospel is not about us. The gospel is about Jesus, and then it leads to others. It's about Jesus and others.

Moms, you want to rear good, healthy, God-fearing children? Then give them the gospel. Give them the gospel. Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain.

He washed it white as snow. Teach them what Jesus said about servitude. What did Jesus say? He said, The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. What better could you do for your child than to teach him to be like Jesus?

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, today we saw a very important biblical truth. We saw the call on mothers to help develop into their children a servant's heart. We saw a call to help our kids develop self-worth, not self-esteem. Our culture is pushing us to do otherwise, and our kids feel pressure from the social media and their own personal friends to achieve personal glory. Help our mothers and fathers to train our children to be servants. Help our children to understand the Christ-likeness of servanthood. Father, help us as husbands to encourage our wives in their motherhood and help our children to appreciate and honor the moms that you have blessed them with. It is Jesus' name and his precious name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-16 10:46:28 / 2023-04-16 10:59:46 / 13

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