JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF YOUR WORTH SERMON SERIES
SCAR ISSUE - What Damages Your Self-Esteem
APRIL 17, 1994
Take a look around you for a second: to your right, to your left. What do you see? Most of you see a group of attractive, handsome, mostly
middle-class, well-groomed, well-adjusted Metroplex suburbanites. A few of
you are saying, “Ed, not on my row.” Behind the look, most of us here are
trying to hide something. We’re trying to camouflage something. To the
eye, it’s undetectable. However, to the eyes of God, it’s as obvious as the
scar on G. I. Joe’s right cheek.
It’s a mark. In some circumstances it’s a lot of marks. I’m referring to
something that I call “scar issue.” That’s right, we’re trying to hide
issue. I didn’t say “scar tissue,” because scar issue makes scar tissue
like nothing. I call it scar issue because the issue is the most important
and foundational issue we’ll deal with: our self-esteem. We all have scarred
and wounded self-esteems. In some cases, it’s a little nick or a scrape. In
other situations, we’re talking about lacerations, life-threatening wounds.
Today we’re going to answer two questions. The first question: What scars
self-esteem? What scars your self-concept, what scars my self-concept?
First, we are wounded by words from others. Did you hear that? The first
that my self-esteem is scarred, tattered, shattered, and wounded is by the
words of others. We’re wounded by words. We talk in this hour about gun
control. “We’ve got to get the guns off the streets. We’ve got to control
the weapons because they kill, they maim, they destroy, they handicap.”
Folks, weapons don’t even compare to the eternal damage that words can do,
especially to our self-esteem. That’s why the Bible boldly proclaims in
Proverbs 12:18, as you’ll see on your outline in the pink, “Thoughtless
words can wound.”
Stick out your tongue just for a second, real quick. To doctors, it’s only a
two-ounce slab of mucous membrane enclosing a vast array of muscles and
nerves. It helps us chew, taste, swallow, and articulate sounds. However,
with this weapon, we can tear people apart, we can wound. Or, we can affirm
and do things for the glory of God. Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as
Last week we talked about our journey. The moment we’re born, we ask
ourselves this Holy-Spirit-inspired, God-ordained question. Five words: “Do
matter to anyone?” That’s the question we ask. Do I matter to anyone? We
try to have this question answered as little kids, especially from ages 1 to
9, when we’re developing our self-esteem. The first people we take our cues
from self-esteem wise have to be, and always are, our parents, or maybe
another authority figure. If you look into the eyes of your parents, and you
hear coming from their mouths positive words, affirming words -- “You matter.
You’re part of the family. You’re a much-loved person,” -- then chances are
you have something money cannot buy: a healthy self-esteem.
On the other hand, many here look at their parents, or maybe another
figure, and you see disapproving looks and you hear words that cut you to
shreds. “You’re an afterthought. No wonder you don’t have any friends.
make me sick. I wish you’d never been born. You’re an accident.” Many
pile all these phrases into a shoulder-bag and are carrying these lies
throughout the journey of life, especially on their journey to the center of
their worth. Words.
Even from the playground, they still scar us. When I was in the second
I was in music class with the entire group. Kind of parenthetically, my
has always been low. In fact, it was so low, my mother tells me that when I
was in the church nursery the workers would tickle me just to hear me laugh,
“Ha ha ha ha.” “Come here and listen to this kid!” I never went through
pubescent voice change; my voice never cracked. It’s always been very, very
Anyway, we were singing in music class this song: “Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a
dream.” The music teacher stopped and he said, “Wait a minute. Someone in
here is joking around! What’s your name, son?” “Ed Young.” “Come up
Quit joking around. Something must be wrong with your voice. If you don’t
change your voice and sing high like the other kids, then you are going to
have disciplinary measures taken to your backside.” He made me sing in front
of the entire second grade. I got a little teary because it was a traumatic
day and experience for me. A minor thing, you say, but it was only about
three or four years ago that I felt the ability to sing, “Row, row, row your
boat, gently down the stream.” We’re wounded by words from others.
The Bible says, not only are we wounded by words from others, we’re also
wounded by words we tell ourselves. Are you ready for that? We wound
ourselves. That’s right, we take this weapon and we use it for warfare and
slice and dice ourselves with words. We do the Zorro technique.
Moses, that great patriarch. You know, Charlton Heston played Moses. Did
ever read about the life of Moses? Moses struggled, I believe, with some
major self-esteem issues. Moses was a Hebrew, and he was brought up in
Egyptian royalty. In fact, most scholars believe that Moses was being
up to be the next president and C. E. O. of Egypt. One day God taps Moses on
the shoulder and says, “Moses, I want you to be the man to deliver the
children of Israel, the Hebrews, out of bondage. You can do it, Moses. You
are gifted, you’re intelligent.” Go home this afternoon and read Exodus
chapter 3. Moses said, “God, I can’t do that. No way. I don’t speak very
well, I’m not very articulate, my voice kind of cracks. I can’t do it.”
Somewhere in Moses’ past, people scarred him. They wounded him. Maybe it
could have been the Egyptians, because the color of his skin was different.
They began to laugh at his build and his background. Who knows? Moses
probably put that in his shoulder-bag and carried it around for many many
years. He never really knew who he was in the eyes of God until later on in
There are two principles that we need to grasp as we think about wounding
ourselves. We hear the lies, we believe the lies, then we start lying to
ourselves. We need to remember two things, and these two things rhyme.
First, it’s unfair to compare. One of the ways we wound ourselves is by
comparing ourselves and classifying ourselves with others. Our world is
hooked on comparing, isn’t it? We compare everything. The Bible says in 2
Corinthians 10:12, “We do not dare classify or compare ourselves. When they
compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Are you into the
comparison game? How many here have a radar detector? How many here have
one, but you will not tell me you have one? We have a comparison radar
detector right here, and we classify and compare ourselves. “I wonder if he
is more successful than I. She is so slim, it makes me sick.” Then we think
about these things and we compare ourselves. It’s unfair to compare, because
when you compare, two things will happen. You can choose. One: you’ll feel
terrible. You’ll feel bitter because you have so far to go. On the other
hand, it might boost the ego. “Well, I am a lot better than him,” or “I am
much trimmer than that girl.” It’s unfair to compare.
Number two: it’s a disguise when you criticize. That’s right. We criticize
ourselves in a very sly way. When someone compliments us, “Ed, I really
enjoyed the message” we say, “Well, it was terrible.” “No, it really was
good.” “No, it wasn’t good.” “Oh, yes it was.” “I’m not really that
tennis.” “Oh, Jill, yes, you are, you’re the best tennis player in our
league.” “No, I’m not.” “Yes, you are.” We criticize ourselves in order
people to build us up.
Or we do the other thing, criticize others? We think that if we can
that person or that group, then it will make us look better. It’s unwise
we criticize. Again, David fell into this trap. David said, “I nearly lost
my confidence because I was jealous.”
You see, the comparison thing makes a mockery of God’s creative genius. God
took care of it when he made you. Comparing one human being to another human
being is like comparing apples to oranges – or maybe for some of the yuppies
here, Perrier with Evian. You can’t do it. You can’t compare. When we
compare and we criticize, we’re wounding ourselves.
Let’s tackle the second question. I’ve given you the tough news. I’ve
you the news that I need to hear and you need to hear: that we all have a
scarred self-esteem, from others, and from words we tell ourselves. Here is
the great question: what redeems our damaged and scarred self-esteem? What
can redeem your self-esteem? What can redeem my self-esteem?
God has some great words to say about that. We found out last week that we
can get our self-esteem from one of three places. First, from God. Second,
from others. Third, from ourselves. It’s your option; it’s your choice.
you choose to get your self-esteem from others or from yourself, you’re
choosing a very limited, a very narrow avenue for your self-esteem. But if
you choose God, watch out. Wait a minute. It could get incredible. Amazing
things would start to happen in your life and in my life if we took our cues
That is why, this morning, I hold in my hand the real top ten list. That’s
right, God’s top ten list, from the real Home Office in Heaven. I want to
share with you ten principles that will heal and redeem a damaged self-esteem.
Think about the song as we go through this: these ten principles are like
links of a chain. They will give you security and power and, again, they can
heal and bind up your wounds.
Number ten: I am created. Say it with me: I am created. The verse of
scripture you’ll see in your outline is Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s
workmanship.” The word workmanship in the original language means “a
masterpiece.” A Picasso. A work of art. “We are God’s workmanship,
by Christ Jesus to do good works.”
Something that really makes me sick, I mean something that really makes me
mad, is when someone says this: “Well, I’m just not creative. I’m just not
creative like they are.” That’s making a mockery, that’s really slapping
in the face, because we are created, we are fashioned, by the creative
Creator. We must be, and we are, creative. God’s not the block. We must
by believing these lies.
Number nine: I am chosen. Say it with me: I am chosen. Isn’t that
First round, first pick of the draft -- the sinner’s draft. God loves you
has chosen you to be his own. Dr. Charles Couley, dean of the American
Sociology Institute, says that we get our self-esteem from what we feel the
most important person in our life thinks about us. If you make Jesus Christ
the most important person in your life, that will make a healthy self-esteem.
Number eight: I am protected. Say it with me: I am protected. Protect
you would the pupil of your eye.” You’re talking about an encouraging
God is saying here that He watches you, He watches me, and we are in the
of His eye. Not a kind of peripheral vision thing or a glance now and then.
We’re right there. He’s concentrating on you, he’s concentrating on me.
Yesterday afternoon, after I finished preparing for this message, I took E.
and LeeBeth catfishing. Not felines; I mean catfish-fishing. We went to a
couple of small ponds out in Grapevine and I really had to watch E. J. He’s
two, and I said, “E. J., don’t eat the fish bait, thank you very much.” I
to block him from jumping into the little pond. He was in, for about three
hours, the pupil of my eyes. The father watching the son. Our heavenly
Father watching His children.
Number seven: I am complete. Say it with me: I am what? Complete! You
everything when you have Christ. Jesus completes the incomplete. He really
does. We have the total package; we have everything. Our completeness comes
from Christ’s completeness.
Number six: I am victorious. Say that with me, too: I am victorious.
all these things we have complete victory,” this means we keep on winning.
Not just back-to-back Superbowls, that’s nothing. “We keep on winning
Him who loved us.”
Number five: I am called. I am called. You are called. We are called.
Bible says He saved us and called us. Why, because we deserve it? “Oh, man,
I deserve this call from God.” No. The word of God says, “Not because of
what we have done, but because of His own purpose and grace.” 2 Timothy 1:9.
Number four: I am forgiven. I am forgiven. “I alone am He who blots
your sins and will never think of them again.” How many of you think this
way? We were talking about this on Wednesday night. We’ve been going
a study in the book of Romans. A lot of Christians run around and think,
“Whoa. Something bad happens to me, it must have been something I did wrong
fifteen years ago. God’s in Heaven with a giant baseball bat trying to hit
and to hit you.” The book of Romans says, “There is no condemnation for
who are in Christ Jesus.” In other words, God is not mad at you, God is not
angry at me. Period. He’s not. There’s no condemnation, but there are
to be consequences for things we do wrong. Don’t think of God as this mean
cosmic killjoy: “Well, you wait; I’ll trip you up because of that!” and he
kind of kneecaps you. That doesn’t happen.
Number three: I am free. It rhymes: number three, I am free. “Then you
know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Most people hear that verse
and say, “Oh, great, Ed. The truth shall set you free and that’s great and
let’s move on to the next one.” We read that too quickly, too rapidly.
never meditated on that, we’ve never thought about it. The Bible says that
you will know the truth.
That’s not just intellectual knowledge. People confuse knowledge with
application. They run around thinking, “Well, I’m knowledgeable. I have
giant Study Bible highlighted and underlined. That means I’m a spiritual
giant and I know everything about scatology, souteriology, and all the other
ologies. That means I’m a deep Christian and I’m really a great man or
of God.” Knowing the truth is important. We must grow deeper. But where it
really happens, where we put shoeleather under this, is the application part.
It is knowing it enough and applying it enough that it sets us free, that we
are free. I’m talking about the most basic issues of life: your goals, your
motives, and your self-esteem. Is that great news?
Number two: I am loved. Say that with me: I am loved. Now, before I
this scripture verse, I want you to ask yourself this question silently.
are there any conditions on this verse?” Let’s read it: “I have loved you
with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Any
conditions here? A lot of us grew up with conditional love. “If you make
straight A’s, then I’ll love you. If you score the touchdown, then I’ll
you. If you do this, then I’ll love you.” I’m not trying to fix blame on
parents. Don’t walk out of here saying, “Well, man, he really kind of
the parents,” because our parents were dealing with a lot of stuff when they
were bringing us up, and they’re not perfect. They’re not. Too many people
just stand there and point to their parents, their parents, their parents.
You should be confessing it, and, if you have to, going to great Christian
counseling, turning from it, and going the other way.
But the Bible does say, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have
drawn you with lovingkindness.” So when you wake up in the morning, you
have to wonder, “Well, I wonder if God loves me today. I wonder if He’s
to love me. Hmm, let me see. I must perform for His love.” No. The Bible
says he’s drawn us out of lovingkindness.
Finally, we go to number one: the number one thing we need to know if we
going to redeem a damaged self-esteem. Don’t forget it, remember it, here it
is: I am accepted!
I’ll go through it one more time for you. Number ten, I am creative. Number
nine, I am chosen. Number eight, I am protected. Number seven, I am
complete. Number six, I am victorious. Number five, I am called. Number
four, I am forgiven. Number three, I am free. Number two, I am loved.
Number one, I am accepted.
We have a lot of Christians here. That means you’ve accepted Jesus Christ.
But did you realize, do you realize, that Jesus has accepted you? You’ll
never accept yourself until you say, “Whoa! He accepts me!” We do so much
be accepted. Here’s what I want you to do with this. I want you to take
and I want you to read this every night for the next thirty days. When you
read this -- like Letterman reads his top ten list every time his show is on
-- you can say, “Whoa, I’m creative. I’m protected. I’m complete. I’m
victorious.” The lights will come on. Things will drop off that have messed
you up, that have weighted you down. You’ll see who you are in the eyes of
Fred Craddock is a preaching professor in a seminary back east. One
Craddock and his wife were vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They walk
into a little roadside restaurant and a man, kind of a big guy, walks up to
them and says, “How are y’all doing?” Craddock said, “We’re doing fine.”
“Y’all on vacation?” “Uh, yes, we are, we’re having a wonderful time.”
tell me, what do you do for a living?” “Well, I’m a professor of
“Oh, a preacher! Oh-ho! Well, I’ve got a preacher story!” He pulls a
up. “Let me tell you, uh, Dr. Craddock is it? Yes, Dr. Craddock, a true
preacher story. Well, you see Dr. Craddock, I was brought up, born, an
illegitimate child. I went to school and people laughed at me, I was
rejected, I was made fun of. When I walked down the streets of our small
when I was fifteen years of age people were laughing at me saying, “I wonder
whose son he is?”
Then this young preacher came to town. I’m telling you I’d never been to
church before in my life. I went to hear him and I would arrive late, hear
the message, and leave early, and this guy just spoke to me. He was reading
my mail, Dr. Craddock, the guy was unbelievable. One Sunday I got so
enthralled with his message that I didn’t leave early. I tried to get out
without someone noticing me, but the aisles were packed, and then I felt a
hand on my shoulder. I looked up and there looking down at me was that tall
preacher. And this tall preacher said, “Boy, whose son are you?” When I
heard those words,” this man said, “I began to tremble. Then he said, “Son,
know who you are. There’s an amazing resemblance. You’re a child of
This man said, “When I heard those words, it changed my life. I’m a child,
I’m a son of God.” Then he put the chair back and walked out. The waitress
scurried up to the table and said, “Do you know who that man was?” They
no. She said, “That was Ben Cooper, two-term governor for the state of
You see, folks, when we see that we are children of God, when we see
real top ten list, that is when we will truly have the center of our worth
taken care of.
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