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Sound Judgment About Yourself

What do you think of yourself? Having an accurate assessment of your own abilities and importance is one of the hardest judgments to make. This is because a truly accurate assessment requires objectivity, and objectivity is very difficult to maintain when thinking of oneself. Even so, you must find a way to be objective, for you must think correctly about yourself.

In Romans 12:3, the apostle Paul wrote, "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." This instruction recognizes the tendency of man to overestimate himself. Indeed, arrogance, pride, and self-importance are some of the greatest faults of man, and they lead to many errors. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling" (Prov. 16:18).

Certainly, pride is an attitude to be avoided, but this passage in Romans 12 is not addressing pride as much as it addresses an inaccurate opinion of one's own abilities. The context of verses 3-8 describes how the various members of the body of Christ have various functions. Each of these members needs to understand his particular function and then be diligent to fulfill it. At the same time, each member must understand his own limitations. To have this complete understanding of one's role and abilities is to have the "sound judgment" that is necessary according to verse 3.

Unfortunately, many of us fall short of having sound judgment about ourselves because we judge ourselves by the wrong standards. Paul addressed such false standards in 2Corinthians 10:12, which says, "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." Notice that any self-assessment that is based on a comparison to the wrong standards leaves one "without understanding." Such an assessment would be like a boy who believes he is the fastest runner in the world because he can outrun everyone at his school. His opinion is wrong and without understanding because he compared himself with his classmates rather than the fastest men in the world. Likewise, when we assess ourselves spiritually by comparisons to others rather than by comparisons to Jesus, we are also measuring by the wrong standards.

Truly, the correct standard of measure for Christians and all men is Christ Jesus and His holy word. It is the word of God that gives us the objective, external standard needed to form an accurate assessment of ourselves. This standard prevents us from thinking too highly of ourselves, for God's word is a mirror that reflects the truth about us (Jas. 1:23-25). If we will honestly look into the "perfect law of liberty," then we will understand ourselves correctly. Such an assessment will leave us with the humble understanding expressed in Luke 17:10: "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'" In fact, the word of God shows us that even when we keep the commandments it is a credit to Christ and not to us. This is seen in John 15:5, for Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Indeed, let us all say, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20).

By the same token, the word of God also teaches us not to think too little of ourselves. True humility is not the belief that we are worthless, for God considered us to be worth the life of His own Son. Instead, humility is an accurate opinion of ourselves. While it is accurate to think of ourselves as unworthy sinners and unprofitable servants, it is also accurate to think of ourselves as redeemed saints who are blessed with a glorious commission from the Lord. For example, consider the self-assessment of Paul in 1Timothy 1:12-14:

12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

Notice Paul's perspective about what he had been, what he had become, and who was responsible for his transformation. This chief of sinners (1Tim. 1:15) had become a champion of the faith all because of Christ the Lord. For this, he praised the Lord, and we do as well.

Therefore, let us all aspire to see ourselves in truth just as God sees us. If we obtain such a clear view of ourselves, we will not always be pleased with what we see, but we will have the opportunity to improve. We will also have the opportunity to work to our strengths and not attempt to do more than we are able. At the same time, we will see that we are loved and esteemed by God and employed by Him to do many glorious things for His name. Indeed, may we all be able to share Paul's self-assessment expressed in 1Corinthians 15:10: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me."

Stacey E. Durham



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