The Cure For Conceit
I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
People have an amazing capacity for self-deception- either thinking too highly of themselves or too lowly. Both bring a lot of trouble. Inflated egos lead to boorish behavior, hurt relationships, and using people instead of loving them. Crushed egos cause people to build walls around their hearts and drive them to prove that they aren’t that bad after all.
To correct mistaken self-perceptions, Paul instructs us to “think soberly,” that is, to have God’s perspective of ourselves. Each of us contains the image of God, but that image is tarnished by sin. One writer said we are equal parts saint and beast, which explains the inner conflict we experience.
By faith, we realize that God created us the way He wanted to, and we accept our abilities and talents as gifts from Him. Sin, though, clouds our hearts and distorts our thinking. We desperately need God’s grace to restore us, and we need His wisdom to lead us. We are wonderfully created, tragically fallen, deeply loved, and completely forgiven. That a sober assessment of each of us who calls Christ our Savior and Friend.
Conceit is a weird disease. It makes everyone sick except the one who has it.
Very often when a person thinks too highly of himself, it is not a case of pride as much as it is a simple mistake.
We have been invaded by a culture of “me first,” and the church community hasn’t been exempt. As we have seen the effects of the pandemic continue to interrupt, displace, isolate, and stress society, selfishness has risen to new heights. As Paul is writing to the Romans, he is speaking to a culture of egotists. In Rome, the emperors were exalting themselves to be gods, the leaders were pressing to be popular, religious leaders were trying to get the most attention and the most followers, and even the commoners were trying to find their place in the pecking order. Sometimes when we think of those who think too highly of themselves, we think of movie stars, athletes, politicians and the wealthy and influential. The truth is that we all are subject to think this way. On the other end of the scale are those who think less of themselves as they ought to think. No matter how beautiful they are they see themselves as ugly. No matter how talented they are, they see themselves as helpless. No matter how brilliant they are they see themselves as stupid (did I really use that word?😳 Neither of the two groups can be convinced that how they think of themselves isn’t correct. Both need to view themselves from God’s view. Both views at the end of the day dishonor God. Those who think more highly than they ought take the credit for every accomplishment and give no credit to God or others who may have contributed to their success. We are used to such. We see political leaders take credit for things that happen on their watch that in reality they had nothing to do to bring it about. They just happened to be in office when it occurred. We see sports figures take credit for winning the game when in truth they were gifted with talented teammates that contributed as much if not more for the win. We see movie stars take credit without once considering the dozens of people who made the movie successful. More sad is when we see church leaders take credit and receive honor and glory for what God is doing. We even write books describing our strategy of success, giving us the credit. The truth is that often it’s the previous leader, generation, unknown workers that contributed to the success more than the person who gets the credit. I tell people often that I get the privilege of picking the fruit after someone else has planted, watered, prayed over the seed sown. After a lot of work by those behind the scenes, I get to give an invitation and they respond. And it would be easy to take the credit and think more highly on myself than I should. The best way to control our ego is to deliberately give Christ all the glory and honor and credit.
On the other end of the scale are those who think less of themselves than they ought. Unfortunately this is accepted by society. We may chafe at those who think too high of themselves but we are comfortable with thinking less of ourselves than we ought or letting others think that way. The Bible tells us that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made and as someone said, “God doesn’t make junk nor mistakes.” We may never be everything we want to be or others expect us to be but we will be exactly what God designed us to be if we will just allow Him to complete His work in us.
We used to sing a song that said:
If anyone asks just who I am,
Tell them I am redeemed.
God sets our worth through Christ and all of us were bought with the same price. Our worth isn’t determined by our talent, intellect, accomplishments. Our worth is determined by our Creator. All of us have been sinners who needed a Savior. So if God has blessed you with an abundance of gifts, talents, influence, wealth or position, remember that your worth isn’t because of those things. Your worth is in your relationship with Christ. On the other hand, if you feel that you haven’t any talent to speak of, no influence or prominent position in the community, or even poor in this world’s goods, you aren’t worthless because Christ died for you and shed the same blood for you as He did for others and that defines your worth.
When we see our worth as determined by God and respond to it, we truly honor Him.
Once you know your value is set by God, you become free from the competition of culture. You don’t need to be first, most important, or the “Burger King- have-it-my-way” person. You can trust that God will place you, provide for you and bless you wherever you are on the scale. When Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen were quarreling over the grazing, Abraham told Lot to choose. Even though Abraham by all rights had first choice, he knew that if he had the favor of God, wherever he landed would be a place of blessing. That’s us who belong to Christ. When we walk in His favor and blessing, we don’t have to pump ourselves up or try to make ourselves important, we just keep enjoying all that God is providing. When we see others, we don’t feel it necessary to demand our way or compare ourselves to them. We learn to give God credit for our successes and trust His grace in our struggles. We live in acceptance of what God says about us. We are His children, so all we are comes from Him and always who we are is defined by Him. Because of that we never think too highly nor too lowly of ourselves. We accept how God has defined our worth in Christ.
Dr. John Thompson