A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 27, 1994
All of us vary from times of having great assurance of ourselves to times of a great doubt that we can do anything positive. At times, we may wonder if we can do anything right. And what we do, does not seem to make much of a difference, nor does it seem to be appreciated by others. We may have serious doubts about our value and self-worth.
We are meant to have a self confidence. The Lord wants us to believe in ourselves that we can do marvelous things towards the Lord’s creation. We are meant to appreciate and find satisfaction in our unique role in what we can offer that can establish what is good from the Lord more firmly upon the earth. The only way we can enjoy a life that is receptive of the Lord’s guidance is to have an appreciation towards ourselves. We can love ourselves. In fact, we are to love and appreciate ourselves for what the Lord can do through us. We can only be truly conjoined with the Lord only when we have a proper and orderly love towards ourselves. We can develop a self-confidence within ourselves that agrees or is compatible with a faith and dedication towards the Lord.
First, we are taught of a wrong self-confidence. We can be in a type of self-confidence that is based upon what is false, and not real but only an appearance. Our self-confidence is meant to be based upon reality, not upon a fantasy or an appearance. The Parable of the Rich Fool shows us the folly and destruction that comes with a person who places their confidence in their earthly possession and sensual delights. Eventually, these things will no longer be with us. If we place our self worth upon external or material things, than we are continually dependant upon their existence for our self-confidence. When they are taken away, we are shattered and our image of ourselves is greatly diminished. Placing our confidence in external things does not lead to a very stable life.
Not only does a confidence in external things be false, but also when we improperly compare ourselves to others. If we have a false confidence, we will feel superior to others. We tend to believe we are better than those around us. This even extends to the Lord Himself. There is the fundamental belief that we can do things better than what the Lord set forth in His Word. We are like the description in the Psalms, “”. We deny God when we insist of deciding how we are going to live and not comply with what the Word teaches from the Lord.
Also, the feeling of inferiority is just as harmful. When we feel that others are better than ourselves, we are locking ourselves from effectively doing what we are enabled from the Lord to do. We read from New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine that a spiritual person will gladly step aside if he or she recognizes that another person can perform a deed more effectively then he or she can. Such a person will not view him or herself as worthless or of lesser value than the other person. Rather, they will have the attitude that they are more qualified in performing another function, and that their assignment is just a valuable and important as anyone else’s. We can recognize other people’s qualifications without degrading ourselves as being of no value.
A person with the self-confidence from the Lord will not be arrogant towards others. There will be a strong element of humility within the confidence. We will clearly recognize our need and dependency upon the Lord to accomplish our creative purpose in life. Nor will they place external things above spiritual things. When a person has the proper priorities in life, he or she is able to be secure in things that are far more lasting and secure. When we are able to lay up treasures in heaven and not upon the earth, we are focusing and basing our lives upon things that will last to eternity, and no earthly or evil force can touch it. It can easily be seen how we can be secure and confident when our lives are based upon spiritual things.
Also, the things we will fight for will be from a promition of good, not from what merely pleases ourselves. When we strive to have good conquer and not exclusively our own self interests, we can have the utmost confidence that what we are striving for will be assured of the eventual victory. When we only have ourselves in consideration, we are doomed to defeat in the end. But when we strive to promote the good that is from the Lord, we are backing that which will be sustained for ever. Hence, our confidence in ourselves will be solid because we are a part of that which is assured to come into fruition in the end.
In the text quoted above, the Lord referred to having a positive self image by having the ability to remove mountains. “Mountains” represent the attraction towards what is evil, which we all must deal with in one form or another. Certainly, many of the attractions and vices that we are confronted with seem like insurmountable mountains. However, if we just have the simple faith and genuine trust that the Lord can overcome anything, that trust will be guaranteed the victory in the end. It will dispel our evil habits, even though at the beginning of the effort it seems no larger than a mustard seed. As we see and perceive that our bad points can be dealt with that is applied to the teachings from the Word, the confidence we have in ourselves will increase. Not that we have confidence is what is in ourselves. On the contrary, our confidence is based upon what is from the Lord in us. We will develop more and more of a recognition that when the Lord is received in our lives, we can do marvelous things.
This confidence will increase as we sense our mountains of evil weakening. For example, an alcoholic will have more self-esteem as he or she perceives the attraction and control alcohol had is not as strong as it was before. A person who has a problem with his or her temper will have a greater self-image when they are able to exercise some control over their temper that they know came from the Lord, not from themselves. Or a person who is inclined to procrastinate. When they see themselves be more responsible and take more initiative in getting things done in a timely way, they have a better confidence that they can make a positive contribution towards the earth.
Mountains have the representation of evil because originally, the Israelites were inclined to offer sacrifices upon mountains, like other nations around them. So long as we feel that we are hopeless trapped in our vices, self doubt in ourselves will remain strong and very persuasive to us. But if we truly have the faith that we can overcome any obstacle from the Lord in us, we are fulfilling this statement of the Psalmist, “He shall not be anxious in the year of drought.” (Jer)