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A great little book on 'self-image' and 'identity'
on 16 August 2012
In former days, comments Tim Keller, it was generally assumed that the root of evil was pride: having too important a view of oneself.
By contrast, nowadays it is often reckoned that the root of evil is having too low a view of oneself; and therefore much time and money is spent building up the self-esteem of people who, for whatever reason, count themselves worthless.
But in this short book (46 pages; really just an expanded sermon, and drawing considerable wisdom from CS Lewis) Keller says that neither of these approaches ultimately gives a solution. Taking verses from 1 Corinthians, he shows that high self-esteem and low self-esteem are both, in different ways, a form of pride. The thing that brings freedom is what he calls 'gospel humility'.
The 'gospel-humble' person is neither a self-hating person, not a self-loving person, but a self-forgetful person who peacefully entrusts himself to God as his judge, depending on the redeeming power of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Because of its short length the book is not regaled with real-life stories of people with self-esteem issues. That has the virtue of keeping it succinct; however for some it may make it seem less accessible.
Nevertheless I can imagine this book being helpful for those who feel trapped in the 'depths', particularly if it were read with a gentle, loving Christian friend who can help apply the principles. But, as always with this kind of thing, the best time to read it or give it to others would be as 'preventative medicine', letting God's word shape our world-view, change our hearts, and bring peace to us and to others.