Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves

I’m really hard on myself. Any other performance-driven perfectionists out there? When you start out living life that way, it can be awesome because people who aren’t perfectionists love people who are. Maybe they get on each other’s nerves, but every boss wants to hire a performance-driven perfectionist because they will kill themselves getting it right. And no discipline is ever needed because they’ll be harder on themselves than a boss ever could be. They never take vacations. And they’re always on time.

That’s how it starts out. But as life gets busier and busier, maintaining your status of perfection gets more and more difficult. You can’t just pick and choose perfection, right? Everything has to be perfect. So life at home must be perfect, with everything clean and neat and in order. Life at work must be perfect, with projects on time and people’s opinions of you high. Life at church must be perfect, with all your different ministries under control. Your social life has to be perfect too. And so do your hobbies. And so on and so forth.

“Perfection” is hard work. Truly, perfection is unattainable, but we strive for it anyway.  And when we don’t achieve it, we rip ourselves to bits.

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Romans 12:3.

Because of the privilege and authorityGod 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.

This verse is part of Paul’s talk about how the different areas of the Church are like different parts of the body. One part of our body can’t say to the other part that they’re not important (unless it’s an appendix, but even that must have a purpose or we wouldn’t have one, even if it’s just job security for surgeons). The church is the same way. Different people are gifted in different areas, so you can’t pick and choose what parts are more important. If you esteem the mouth and forget the big toe, you’ll have lots to say, but you can’t stand up.

But that’s not what struck me about this verse today. The statement, “be honest in your evaluation of yourselves” is what really hit me this morning.

Be honest in your evaluation.

What does that mean? In the context that Paul is using here, he means that you shouldn’t think you’re all that because you have certain gifts. It’s a pride issue. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to.

But it works in both directions. Don’t think too highly of yourself, but also don’t rip yourself apart because you aren’t perfect. Be honest about it. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t let your emotions or your feelings dictate your perspective about yourself. Don’t let your life situation or circumstances tell you who you are.

Be honest.

How? The first step comes from knowing what God thinks about you.

God thinks you’re awesome. He thinks you’re brilliant and funny. He thinks you’re a great mom. He thinks you’re a great dad. And the plain truth is that nothing you can do or say will ever convince God to love you less (or even more) than He already does. He loves you too much already. So put that perspective in place the next time you start tearing yourself up, you insecure perfectionist you.

You may not understand His love, but you can accept it. Accepting it will change your life.

The second part is finding a way to look at yourself realistically. Don’t let your emotions drive your view on things. Emotions aren’t trustworthy because they’re broken.

As you might imagine, I love to write. I write all the time. Even when I don’t have a pen, I’m still writing in my head. But the biggest problem with my writing is me. I hate everything I write. I cringe at the thought of inflicting my ridiculous sentence structures on people. This blog only became public after people begged with me to share my thoughts online. The truth about this blog is that it’s not about me. I’m just posting what God is teaching me on a daily basis and if someone gets something out it, it’s through His grace and not my talent (especially at this time in the morning).

But, that being said, people have made it abundantly clear to me that I have a gift for writing. And that’s what it is, a gift. Granted, it’s a gift that I have worked very hard to refine, even if I do interject dangling participle every now and then or end a sentence with a preposition (on purpose).

Yes, I hate most everything I write, and nothing I get down ever meets my expectations. But to look at my work and declare that I am a horrible writer (which I do all the time) isn’t honest. It’s a lie, and it’s damaging.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been trapped in the cycle of self-criticism that stunts your growth and tears you up inside?

Take a step back and be honest in your evaluation. Everyone has gifts. Everyone has talents. Nobody is more important than anyone else, but you’ve got something that God has given you to do that only you can do.  Don’t let self-doubt and perfectionism get in the way of accomplishing your God-given purpose.

Chill out. Give yourself a break. God loves you, and He gave you a gift. You’re not perfect, but He is. So He can use you even when you don’t always get it right.

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.