By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Not Too Highly
You ought to think of yourself highly. After all, God did. He thought so highly of you that he sent his Son to restore what had been lost through sin and unbelief. Now, through Jesus, you are a redeemed child of God. You are the apple of God’s eye. As such, you are part of a glorious kingdom, a holy nation, the people of God. You are a part of the body of Christ, with unique gifts, talents, and opportunities. You are equipped for great works of service. You are empowered to be and do what God has called you to be and do. Indeed, you ought to think of yourself highly.
But not too highly.
The apostle Paul understood the human inclination to think more highly of yourself than you ought. He had lived it and he had seen it. Apparently, it was a special challenge for the Romans. You can read Romans chapter 12 and see how many ways Paul touches on honoring others above self—you can think about how this continues to be a challenge today. Because of what he had experienced and seen, but more importantly, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, Paul urged his readers and urges us, “Think of yourself with sober judgment.”
How does the inclination to think of yourself too highly manifest itself in your life? Here’s one way it can happen: by thinking of different as better. When you look at your gifts and the gifts of others, you see your gifts not as different, but better. When you look at your opportunities and the opportunities of others, you see your opportunities not as different but better. When you look at how you and others take on a challenge, you see your way not as different but better.
To be sure, in many cases there are ways of doing things that are better than others. There are tried and true approaches that are best practices. However, when your default is to automatically think that your way is better, that’s not the best practice; it is sinful conceit and arrogance. Such an outlook is not in accordance with the faith God has given you. Faith looks at things differently.
When the temptation to think too highly of yourself comes knocking, remember, like Paul, you are who you are by the grace of God given to you—and read Romans 12 for more thoughts on how that can manifest itself in your life as a redeemed, restored, forgiven child of God.
Lord God, forgive my sinful conceit and arrogance. Remind me that I am who I am by your grace. Help me always to honor others above myself, and you above all. Amen.
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