Viewing Ourselves Rightly
No one is immune to the sin of self-exaltation. To find evidence of this, simply enter any kindergarten classroom. In this little group of children, soon enough somebody will be singing their own praises about building the tallest block tower or drawing the best family portrait—in other words, thinking of themselves more highly than they ought.
Constantly comparing ourselves with other people is a worldly way to think. An exaggerated view of ourselves is a dreadful problem—one that puts others down and ignores our place before God. The answer, though, is not found in self-denigration, which is the opposite and equal error to self-exaltation. This self-disparagement is also the product of pride because it still surfaces from comparison. It is still self-focused.
The Christian’s view of self should be grounded in a mind renewed by God (Romans 12:2). With this perspective, we find our value in God’s mercy and grace. Our significance, identity, worth, and role all find their foundation in who God is and what He has done for us, not on account of who we are or what we’ve done for Him.
We are reminded of this proper perspective of self when we sing the lines “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died.” To survey the cross is to focus on the gospel—the truth that another has died in our place and borne our punishment. In doing this, we realize that “my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.” The cross raises us and lowers us at the same time, and this frees us from needing to push ourselves forward in life and enables us to acknowledge ways in which God has gifted us. This is thinking of ourselves with “sober judgment.”
The church, then, is to be noticeably different from the world in the way we view ourselves and each other. When we come together, united by the gospel, all else that relates to our identity, though not irrelevant, loses its primary significance, and we use our gifts not to please ourselves but to serve others.
Look at the cross, where your Savior bled and died for your sins because He loves you. There is no room for you to feel proud. There is no need for you to compare yourself to others. Instead, you can use all that He has given you in selfless, joyful service of others.
The Ministry of Apostles
1This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
6I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,1 that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
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