- Accept Yourself - God accepts us unconditionally, and in his view we are all precious and priceless. Focus on this and you will not waste any time and effort trying to be someone you’re not.
- Love Yourself [Warren’s wife affirms], “God really does love me without strings attached.” [On this basis we apparently have been given the freedom to love ourselves]
- Be True To Yourself - Discover, accept and enjoy our unique "shape" [which refers to Warren’s S.H.A.P.E. program] ….Be content with them [our weaknesses].
- Forgive Yourself - God doesn’t expect perfection but He does insist on honesty. When I honestly admit my errors and ask forgiveness in faith, He doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t get even, and doesn’t bring it up again. We should practice such a forgiving attitude with ourselves.
- Believe in Yourself - Start affirming the truth about yourself! The truth is God has created you with talents, abilities, personality and background in a combination that is uniquely you. It’s your choice. You can believe what others say about you, or you can believe in yourself as God does, who says you are truly acceptable, lovable, valuable and capable.
Briefly, remember that Warren is not writing to believers but to the general populace, which he would have to assume is largely unsaved. With that in mind consider: To this audience he tells them that God accepts them unconditionally. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are unacceptable to God in our natural state. It would take the death of the Son of God to provide the means whereby we could be accepted by God and only those who are in Christ are acceptable to the Father (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Christ calls us to deny self (Luke 9:23) not love self. To tell the unbeliever to accept and be true to himself is to condemn him eternally. Should one who is dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) be told to be content with his weaknesses? Warren may be attempting to soothe the troubled hearts of his readers, but he is not pointing them to the Savior. Not a word can be found in Scripture about forgiving ourselves. This is a modern psychological invention, not a biblical principle. God calls us to confess our sins to Him and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). We lack the ability and authority to forgive ourselves; that is God’s prerogative.
Perhaps the key is in his view of doctrine. In The Purpose Driven Life Warren wants us to have no doubt that, when we stand before the Lord, “God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him” (p. 34)?