One part of your life that either builds self-respect or tears it down is behavior–the choices you make. Everyone is involved in a multitude of choices every day and your self-respect depends on the quality of your performance.
You do your best.
You do poorly.
You do it right.
You mess it up.
You do what is required.
You follow instructions.
You give it all you’ve got.
You do it half-heartedly.
You keep your agreements.
You go back on your word.
These and more are choices you make day after day, according to the principles that guide you.
Consider some statements from wise King David:
Knowledge of Sin
Thy word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee (Psalm 119:11).
Insight and Understanding
I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed thy precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Thy word (Psalm 119:99-101).
Peace and Stability
Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble (Psalm 119:165).
The prophet Isaiah and the great leader Joshua add more insights:
Well-being and Righteousness
If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18).
Prosperity and Success
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).
Searching out all those commandments will lead you into a lifetime study of the Bible. Also, it will guide you into conduct pleasing to God and will contribute to your own self-respect.
That’s worth a lifetime of study! Why not commit yourself to a lifetime of doing what is right? Just as people who are physically fit spend a lifetime seeking out fitness principles and following them, so contented people learn the principles that will enable them to build self-respect…to love themselves.
The Bible furnishes us with some broad guidelines to help us make choices, but what it says puts the responsibility for our daily actions squarely on our own shoulders:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable…I will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12).
All things are lawful, but not all things edify (1 Corinthians 10:23).
To one who knows the right thing…and does not do it…it is sin (James 4:17).
The work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever (Isaiah 32:17).
Every day of your life you make choices about what you will or will not do.
I’ve listened to countless stories in the counseling room of people who create tensions for themselves because of their own actions. No one knows their secret. But they know.
Consider what the Bible has to say:
Each one examine his own work…in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another (Galatians 6:4).
Want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise of the same…if you do what is evil, be afraid…for…an avenger…brings wrath upon the one who practices evil (Romans 13:3-4).
I have found guilt is only a problem with people who pretend to be sorry for something they have done, but intend to do it again. Guilt is no problem to the repentant person, no matter what he has done, if there is a willingness not to repeat the mistake.
If you follow God’s commandments, you will watch your self-respect grow.
This is an excerpt of chapter 4 from Dr. Brandt’s book, I Want Happiness Now!