For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you.Romans 12:3
There are two problems we have which limit us having a right view of ourselves. We can think too highly of ourselves or we can think too lowly of ourselves. Depending on our personalities or our situation and background some of us are prone to having an inflated view of ourselves. Others of us by virtue of personality, situation and background have a deflated or derogatory view of ourselves. Both are wrong.
It is remarkable how frequently we find ourselves in the position of viewing the “glass of life” and drawing the conclusion it is either half full or half empty. The same thing can happen to two different people. The optimist or the proud person will take it positively while the pessimist or the person prone to thinking lowly of him or herself will take it negatively. We need much help in learning how to view situations and ourselves in ways that are balanced.
Are you aware that the devil wants to push you past the balance point for you personally and in your relationships? Either he will push you too far and make you proud or he will pull you down and make you feel worthless and of little use to the Lord. The better, safer position to be in is to be lowly for God delights to choose the foolish and weak things of the world to confound the “wise” and the strong” . . . so that no one can boast before Him. (1 Cor 1:26–29). The worse position to be in is to be proud and think more highly of yourself than you ought for the Lord resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)
However, many don’t realise they are burdened and pulled down to lowly levels. They think that is just how it is. That is reality. But it is not reality in God. Many of us battle strongholds in the mind. That is why Paul is talking about a radical change of thinking. How does a stronghold start? If you have been told for years by your parents “you are fat”. Told also that “you are ugly”, that “your sisters and brothers are better than you at everything”. Told “you will never amount to anything and have no skills”. All of these internal messages combine together within you to create a stronghold. We need to pull down the strongholds of human reasoning as Paul talks about in 2 Cor 10:4. (see my Nugget series on Strongholds)
We may be able shed or deal with the one message we receive frequently that “we are fat”. But when the message “you are fat” is added to “you are ugly” and “you can’t do anything right” it builds a stronghold of self doubt and “worthless” thinking that can hold you in its grip. That is a focus of human reasoning that requires breaking: many thoughts all combining to deliver the same message. Is it only the self deprecating message that is a stronghold? In other words is it only the negative message that is a problem? NO, by no means. (Can you hear Paul saying that?) In fact the erring on the proud side is just as lethal a combination. And in fact as we saw above that is the one God Himself opposes. If you are going to err on any one side then choose the lowly, self deprecating view. (This I say, not the Lord). At least God won’t oppose you and will lift you up in due time.
Can you see how it takes a measure of faith to accomplish this change in thinking. Firstly to believe that it can happen when the stronghold has had its grip for so long. Secondly, to trust God with the outcome on both sides of the ledger. For the person with a lowly self-demeaning focus to dare to believe they can rise above it. For the proud self-sufficient one to realise and to trust they need to change and God does indeed want to help. Both kinds of people need faith.
More on that in the next Gem. Sorry today’s Gem was less focused on the biblical text and meaning and filled with more comment from Ian. I will always try to err on the Biblical text or the exegetical end of the continuum.
Humility is seen in how quickly we admit our own faults & how quickly we overlook & forgive other’s faults.Rick Warren
It’s human nature to lie to ourselves. What are you pretending isn’t a problem in you? The truth sets you free but it takes courage.Rick Warren