Foundations of Self-image

Importance of Self-image

Self-image is how one perceives himself ... positively or negatively. Self-image is important because how one feels and thinks about himself affects the way he acts. For example, when ten of the spies (who were sent to explore the land of Canaan) perceived themselves as grasshoppers (in comparison to the tall inhabitants of the land) they concluded that they were unable to take possession of the land. They acted in fear (Num. 13: 31-33). Low self-esteem may lead to behavioural problems.

Weak or Strong Foundations?

The important question in self-image is, "What is the basis of our self-image ... our own preconceptions ... the evaluation of others?" What is the true foundation of our self-image?

Our world deems appearance as important in life. There is no escape from this reality! Take a look at the billion-dollar beauty and media industries. Besides physique, the other sources of self-image for many are performance and possessions. We live in a performance-oriented society ... you get praise and reward based on performance. People are also admired for their material possessions especially branded goods.


Physical appearance cannot be a strong foundation for self-image because we age. Moreover, God values a man's inner disposition and character rather than his outward appearance.

"... The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

1 Samuel 16:7

morph - aging

Performance is undependable in that our performance can deteriorate. If our self-image is based on our performance then our self-esteem rises and falls with our performance. Moreover, others can out-perform us ... does this mean we are less worthy?

What does God say about my performance as a believer in Christ?

  • Past: God has forgiven me (Col. 2:13) and remembers my sins no more (Heb. 10:17). I have been accepted by God.

  • Present: He loves me unconditionally (Rom. 5:8). I am a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) and I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

  • Future: I can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13; Eph. 3:20).


Possessions is another shaky foundation for self-image because in an economic downturn, we may have to give up some of our possessions. Our possessions are not permanent ... they can be stolen or destroyed (c.f., 2 Pet. 3:7,10).

Life is more than possessions. Jesus said, "... a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).

As a believer in Christ, I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). I am a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). Don't forget that God is the Owner of the cattle on a "thousand" hills (Psa. 50:10).

Unshakeable Self-esteem

True self-esteem is rooted in our relationship with God ... If you are a child of God (John 1:12) then you belong to Him (Col. 3:4). In Christ, you have been made complete. Come what may, your relationship with Christ is not going to change.

... what God says about me? Do I believe ...Man Turning Head ... Left and Right ... my own self-perception and the evaluation of others?

© 2003, Alan S.L. Wong