Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 34 - Life's Three Problems

Of the many and varied problems that people face, there are three that are foundational to life: 1) The feeling of depression; 2) Worthlessness and low self esteem; and 3) A sense of hopelessness. Much of professional counseling today is consumed in alleviating these needs.

It is interesting to note that most all, if not all of the problems that people face have their answers somewhere in the Bible, woven into the fabric of human relationships, as recounted in God's dealings with mankind (I Corinthians 10:11). Therefore, it is imperative that one consider what God's Word has to say relative to meeting these concerns.

I. Alleviating Depression: Every person has moments of sadness and so called depression, but when a person has a chronic problem (involutional melancholia) it is time to seek professional help. A Christian counselor knows that in the pathology of depression, the truth of the Bible plays a great part in alleviating the distress. This is not to discount the part proper medication may play in helping the problem, but medication is only a means of immediate help, so that the problems that caused the depression can be worked on, for permanent relief.

The principles of the Bible, when seriously considered and acted upon, provide constant strength in overcoming. See particularly Isaiah 61:3; Psalm 42:11; and II Corinthians 1:3,4. Along with God's promises the singing of the great hymns of the faith bring uplifting help to the one who is downcast. Many hymns were written out of the crucible of trials and tribulations, by people who have experienced what sadness and depression brings, yet have triumphed, and written marvelous hymns to that effect. God has used these hymns to strengthen and bless His children, who have been going through similar circumstances.

Prayer is, as the Bible describes, the soul's sincere desire, and to be able to cast one's care on the Lord is beneficial (note: I Peter 5:7; Hebrews 4:16; Psalm 55:22). Worship and fellowship with other Christians is most energizing in helping one to overcome a downcast spirit (Psalm 27:1-3).

All of the above elements must begin with a sincere acceptance in the mind, that what the Bible says, must be taken at face value, believed, and acted upon, constantly. Then, and only then, can one expect these truths to control the person emotionally. All this must be accepted in the mind, before it filters down to the emotions.

II. Coming to worth and self esteem: Though as humans we are created in the image of God (i.e. the worth of God's moral qualities), we often suffer from a sense of worthlessness and low self esteem. Unfortunately, in today's world, undue emphasis is placed on self worth and esteem, in order to bolster the ego of the individual. Going from one extreme (low self esteem) to the other extreme (pride) is wrong, and certainly not the balance that the Bible desires for a person.

Though the Bible warns against pride of self (Romans 12:3), it also teaches the eternal worth of every individual, and God's desire that Christians have a balanced view in life. When God created Adam/Eve in their sinless estate, they reflected the fullness of God's moral qualities, which gave them self worth and esteem. They recognized this as coming from and dependent upon God.

When they fell into sin, and turned from being God centered to becoming self centered, their worth and esteem had to come from within themselves, and then they began to have problems. This is why God promised the coming of Jesus Christ, to restore mankind to his original state, and when one accepts what God has done for him through His love, the self worth and esteem has its source in God's love and grace. The proper Biblical view of mankind's worth and God's esteem of His creation is found in Ephesians 2:4-7; Titus 34-7; John 10:10, 12:26, 13:34, and 14:27.

One's self esteem and worth does not come through ego-centeredness, else it is distorted by selfishness, but through an acceptance of what one is and has through being "In Christ", and the dependency upon Him for worth and acceptance.

III. A life of hope: Hope in life ahead is one of the most motivating factors in one's existence, whereas hopelessness is the most devastating. The Bible teaches that the only real hope (that which is beyond the grave, eternally), is that which is found in Jesus Christ (Lamentations 3:21,24,26; Romans 5:2-5, 15:4,13; Colossians 1:5,23,27; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 6:11,18,19; Philippians 1:6).

In the midst of moral and spiritual declension, and the blackness of wickedness in the world, the Christian can rest in the hope of the sovereignty of God. In spite of what we as humans see today, God's program is on track. Our response should not be one of despair, but of trust in Him, and for us to carry on with the responsibilities entrusted to us, resting in His control.

Resignation of despair to the hope we have in God brings true joy in life. The following passages give us cause for hope, that is beyond anything the world can offer: Philippians 1:6; I John 3:2; Romans 12:12; I Peter 1:3; John 14:19. It is comforting and strengthening to realize that God has ordained all things to, "Daily give us all the benefits of life" (Psalm 68:19)

My hope is in the Lord, who gave Himself for me.
And paid the price of all my sins at Calvary.
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

No merit of my own, His anger to suppress,
My only hope is found in Jesus' righteousness.
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

And now for me He stands, before the Father's throne,
He shows His wounded hands, & names me as His own.
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

His grace has planned it all, 'tis mine but to believe,
And recognize His work of love, and Christ receive
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

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