This powerpoint needs some explanation. First, it is based on the two greatest commandments (found initially in Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18). Then, I attempt to show how intertwined these two great commandments are in the entire Biblical record. In fact, Matthew says that somehow all the Law and the Prophets (and, I would add, all NT teaching as well) are rooted in and grow out of these two great commandments. The few examples I used show how foundational these are for human living, especially the one that is interpersonal (the second of the two). Second, it is critical to note that Jesus said that there were only two of these commandments. The self-image, self-worth philosophy that dominated the latter part of the 1960s and throughout the entire next decade (giving it the entirely appropriate designation, the “Me” generation), was a Humanistic Psychology alternative to revealed religion (seen particularly in the works of Carl Rogers, Erich Fromm, Rollo May, and especially Abraham Maslow). When this Psychological training made its way into the churches, those who eagerly bought into it began to say that there are three great commandments: (1) love yourself; (2) love others; and (3) love God, in that order. This meant that before anyone could truly love others and even God, they had to first love themselves. Self-love was touted as the answer to any and all issues of life, and a lack of self-love was blamed for everything imaginable. A very clear theological example of this is in the book by Robert Schuller, entitled, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. In the slides, David Myers (who taught at the same school where Robert Schuller received his education), responds to this too one-sided philosophy. I have a lengthy essay on this entire issue, in which this whole issue receives much more attention. But, may I remind you: Jesus said that there are only two Great Commandments, which are so interconnected that they are treated as one, with a unique focus–a vertical relationship and a horizontal relationship!
Accordingly, I came up with a description that flows out of the two Greatest Commandments, which I label “God-Esteem” and “Neighbor-Esteem.” Those two charts require some further explanation. Since symbols are used, and each statement is set up as a disjunctive proposition, it will become clearer if we go through them. Under the God-esteem chart, G stands for “God exists,” and ~G stands for “God does not exist.” So, let’s go through the scenario. Either God exists or He does not exist. If He exists, then He is either relevant (R) for our lives today or He is not. If He exists, and is relevant for our lives today, then we will either be willing to listen to what He says (L) or we won’t. If God exists, is relevant for our lives today, and we are willing to listen to what He says, then we will either believe what we hear or read (B) or we won’t. If God exists, is relevant for our lives today, and we are willing to listen to what He says, and we will believe what we hear or read, then we will either submit to His will (S) or we won’t. The bottom of the chart makes the point that only those who G, R, L, B, and S have a right to feel good about themselves. And indeed, they should as children of God (1 John 3:1-3; etc.). ALL others, without exception, need to make changes in their lives before they are so entitled. This all grows out of the first and greatest commandment.
The second commandment occasioned my chart Neighbor-esteem. In this chart, C stands for, all humans have been created by God in His image, or they haven’t. So, let’s go through this scenario as well as the previous. If all humans have been created by God in His image, then either all humans have worth for that reason (W) or they don’t. If all humans have been created by God in His image, and they have worth for that reason, then we will either esteem them above all other created things or we won’t. If all humans have created by God in His image, and all humans have worth for that reason, and we esteem them above all other created things, then we will either be willing to invest our care and concern in them, or we won’t. The ultimate issue for most of us is whether or not we are so self-absorbed that “it’s all about us” or whether or not we are willing to invest the care and concern for others that our Lord called upon us to do! This is not self-esteem; rather, it is God-esteem first, and neighbor-esteem second. This puts the whole question of self-worth, self-confidence, and the like on a proper foundation.