“ For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3)
“Don’t think too highly of yourself. The bible says so. ” We’ve probably heard that on someone’s lips at some point. It’s true, to an extent. Pride is a sin and humility is a virtue. But that’s not the whole picture here. For starters, we can find ourselves guilty of thinking very highly of ourselves for thinking very lowly of ourselves.
We can say “don’t think too highly of yourself” to someone who actually is giving us a measured, calm, thoughtful, honest and fair evaluation of their abilities, per the meaning sober. Often times, the person saying it is, probably unconsciously, taking the person “thinking too highly of themselves” down a peg in order to better position themselves. In other words, often, the accusers are themselves in their hearts guilty of their own charge against the accused.
Abusers and folks with low self-esteem miss that it is perfectly scriptural to make a prejudice-free, discerning evaluation of one’s abilities, as this is what “sober judgment” means. It does not mean “beat yourself up, be down on yourself, and allow others to brow beat you.”
Rather it means tell the honest truth about yourself without embellishment and without thinking your skills, knowledge, and abilities make you better than others, incapable of error, and especially not deserving of special privileges. In addition, we are also reminded to do our evaluation of ourselves through the eyes of faith, by implication, to see ourselves as God does. Lord knows we have faults and failings, but he also sees what he is making us and who we are in him.
Thus this scripture is absolutely no excuse for being more negative and critical about ourselves and thinking more lowly of ourselves than we ought to think, compared to what God Almighty has said about us, either.
Lord, grant us discernment to fairly evaluate ourselves. Open our eyes to see ourselves as you see us. Deliver us from any pride and overly lofty opinion, but also from any negative evaluation where we are being harsher on ourselves than you. Grant us enough humility to accept by faith the grace and forgiveness and righteousness you give give us. Deliver us from the fear that keeps us from making an unprejudiced, thoughtful evaluation of ourselves as we are commanded in the scriptures. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.