Measuring yourself by what you believe

It’s easy to think that I’m all that. After all, I can do things a lot of people can’t do. And if I’m not careful, I can start to think that I am a pretty important human being and that God is very fortunate that He created me because otherwise who else would do all the things that He’s asked me to do?

Pride is such a stumbling block. And it’s so sneaky. I did a post on it some time ago comparing it to a ninja, and I really think it’s true. Pride is one of those sins that everyone fights with and most of us lose to. I know I lose to it a lot.

But conversely does that mean that Christians should consider themselves worth less than dirt? I’ve known believers who wander around through life, hating themselves and their lives and their sin to the point that they have become a miserable person. Their self-worth was so low that I could hardly stand to be around them — not because I was astonished by their humility but because I was disturbed by their depression.

And I don’t think that’s the way Christians ought to live. If you’re so caught up in bemoaning your sin and your failures and what a wretch you are, where’s the joy in that? Where’s the irresistable allure we’re supposed to have? Does anyone in the world want that? Is there anything in living a life like that to draw people to it? Is that the best way to make Christ relevant to people? I don’t think so.

So what are we supposed to do? If we can’t be proud but at the same time we can’t despise ourselves, what kind of a perspective are we supposed to have on ourselves?

The verse today addresses this.

Romans 12:3

3 Because of the privilege and authority[a] God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Okay, the first thing I want to point out that this verse says to “measure yourseves.” Not measure each other.

We are not called to sit around comparing ourselves to other believers, debating and deciding whether our sin is lesser than theirs or whether our life is worth more or is more useful than theirs. We don’t know other peoples’ hearts. We can’t read their minds. The only heart and mind you can read is your own.

I think it’s funny that Paul even prefaces this verse with a statement that God is the one who’s given him the authority to say these things. He wasn’t saying things like this to people because he had a bloated sense of his own importance. He spoke to people this way because God had given him the authority to do so.

“Don’t think you are better than you really are.”

Wow. What a concept! And isn’t it funny how we all try to rationalize this statement? I don’t know about you, but when I read that I immediately started to use comparisons to try to make myself feel better. Well, I’m not as bad a Christians as so-and-so or I’ve never done things like so-and-so has.

Wrong! That goes back to the first point I made up there. We are never to compare ourselves to any other person. The only standard we should compare ourselves to is God. And we all fall short of God’s standard and Christ’s life, even though we should strive for it.

Be honest with yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest about what you see. Don’t let culture’s corrupted perspective convince you of things that aren’t true. Judge yourself (because that’s the only person you can judge) truthfully. If you’re beautiful, admit that to yourself. If you’re not so beautiful (in your opinion), admit that too. If you’re smart, admit to yourself that you’re smart. And if you’re not so smart, make sure you understand that. Be honest in your self evaluation. Don’t base it on anyone else. Be real. Be genuine.

Because God made you exactly the way you are. He gave you those freckles and moles. He allowed you to have acne. He gave you the metabolism of a rock so that even if you live on a diet of lettuce you still gain weight. He created you with wide shoulders that never seem to slim down no matter what you try. He made you with stubby legs and thick hips. He made you with square corners or no curves. He gave you your intelligence, your wit, your sense of humor (or your lack thereof). Recognize that. Cherish that. You are a unique individual person. And not only did He make you unique, God loved you enough to sacrifice His Son for you so that He could have a one-on-one relationship with you.

I’d say that makes you worth quite a lot. Don’t you agree?

But here’s where people get out of hand. When I begin to recognize all the things I have going for me and when I begin to understand how much I’m really worth, I start thinking it’s because of something I have done. Or it’s because of some intrinsic value I have.

Wouldn’t you agree that possessions are only worth something to the people who want them? There’s a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye called “Famous” that talks about a photograph being famous to the person who holds it but not at all famous to the person who is pictured.

We are only worth anything because God values us.

We are only capable of accomplishing anything through the skills God has given us or through the education God gave us the ability to complete. He gave us everything we have, whether we recognize that fact or not. We don’t have anything in our lives that we earned 100%. Because someone has to give you the breath to keep breathing every morning.

We are valuable and worth infinitely so much more than we can imagine but only to God. And by being worth something to God makes us worth something in general, obviously. But don’t get a big head because God gave you a gift. Think about the irony of that.

It’s like bragging that you have an i-Pad when someone gave it to you because you couldn’t afford it.

Be honest with yourself. Recognize your gifts and abilities truthfully. Cherish them. And remember that God is the One Who gave them to you so that you could use them for His glory. Never compare yourself to someone else and always give God credit for the good (and the bad) things that happen in your life.

That is true humility. That is a healthy self-worth.