Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man,
in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Psalm 146:3-4

“Believe in yourself” is the self-help mantra of our times. Where such a phrase originated and how it is being kept in use, is a challenge that common sense cannot answer. Nonetheless, by forwarding it on social media, countless individual experience encouragement and even purpose in life.

Perhaps it is so popular because the way it is used is devoid of specific meaning. “Believe in yourself” can mean anything you want it to mean, except, what the words actually mean.

The actual words in the phrase “believe in yourself” communicate religious ideals. To literally “believe in yourself” is to place your trust in life in yourself (self-defeating if you are not omnipotent), to base your insights of life on yourself (self-deluding if you are not omniscient), to worship yourself (eternally damning if you are not God), and to consider yourself to be the most real thing in all of life (self-esteem to the exploitation of all others).

Perhaps it is this last description that makes “believe in yourself” so readily acceptable to even the most simple-minded. It appeals to our sense of self-worth. Only, it defines self-worth in terms of self, making it once again, meaningless.

Our worth is not in ourselves. Our worth is in terms of being made in the image of God. Our worth as Christians is in being called children of God. Our belief is therefore not in ourselves, but in our God.

Next time you are told to “believe in yourself”, reply with the Gospel that calls us to believe in God, for He is greater than ourselves, wiser than ourselves, worth more than ourselves, and being God, the only one in Whom we should place our faith, trust, and allegiance.

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!

Psalm 40:4