The Gospel of John records a long conversation between Jesus and his apostles on the night he was betrayed. The content of John chapters 14-17 began in the upper room where they celebrated the Last Supper and continued all the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a hard conversation about how they should prepare for his death and departure. 

The conversation began with this admonition: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14.1). He said that no matter what happened, trust God. 

If Jesus had said this in the 21st century, and if he were a motivational speaker, or successful blogger, or life coach, or talk show host, he might have said something like this:

  • “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in yourself.”
  • “Let not your heart be troubled, because you’re a winner.”
  • “Let not your heart be troubled, you’ve got this!”
  • “Let not your heart be troubled, look within for the answers.”
  • “Let not your heart be troubled, you’re awesome!”

But then, Jesus wasn’t a life coach, he was God’s Only Begotten Son. He wasn’t interested in their self-esteem, but their spiritual transformation. 

The Bible never says to believe in ourselves. In fact, it assumes we already have a certain degree of self-love programmed into us by our Creator. When Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19.19), he was saying that we should love our neighbors in the same way and to the same degree as we do ourselves. He wasn’t promoting self-love, he was assuming it.

The apostle Paul said, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2.3-4). In other words, loving others demands that we love them as much as we love ourselves.

The apostle Paul also warned too much self-love. He said, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment” (Romans 12.3). Too much self-love causes too much ego.

This isn’t to say that self-esteem and self-respect and self-love are unimportant. What it does say is that what we think of Christ is far more important than what we think of ourselves. 

So, when you’re struggling and troubled and hurting, what do you do? You do what Jesus said: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14.1).