Romans 12:3 NLT “Because of the privilege and authority 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.”
Proverbs 8:13 HCSB “To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I HATE ARROGANT PRIDE, evil conduct, and perverse speech.”
When we look at ourselves what do we see? A really strong Christian? One who really knows the Bible well? Or do we see a powerful prayer warrior? Do we see the world’s greatest charitable giver? Even if these things are true we only have them because of God’s power; His grace and mercy. So how can any of us boast?
If we really examine ourselves honestly don’t we see someone who needs more patience? Do we not see someone who gets too angry sometimes? Don’t we see someone who needs to be more loving? Don’t we see someone who is way too judgmental at times? Don’t we see someone who needs to be more merciful? Do we see someone who needs to tell the truth more often? Do we see someone who needs to be more giving? Do we see someone who needs to get better control over our lusts? Do we see a person who should spend more time in prayer? More time studying God’s word? More time sharing the gospel message with others? If what we see when we look in the mirror is a good person we have missed the boat. Jesus explains it this way:
Luke 18:9-14 ESV “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.””
Notice the guy who knew he had issues, who knew he was a sinner simply pleaded with God for mercy and was declared righteous or justified. The other guy had a good track record of works but a bad attitude. The tax collector’s track record wasn’t good at all but his repentant attitude was. So when we look at ourselves honestly which one of these guys do we look like? Do we think we have it all together like the Pharisee and put others down? Or do we see our own shortcomings realizing we’re no better than anybody else and beg God for His mercy? It’s easy to fall into the trap of pride like the Pharisee especially when you’ve kicked some bad habit, or you never had the addictions or bad habits others have.
PAUL THE LEAST OF ALL THE APOSTLES
One thing I find interesting about Paul the apostle is how he viewed himself. Even though he knew that Jesus had already forgiven him for his sins he still saw himself as least of all the apostles:
1 Corinthians 15:9 NLT “For I AM THE LEAST OF ALL THE APOSTLES. In fact, I’M NOT EVEN WORTHY TO BE CALLED AN APOSTLE after the way I persecuted God’s church.”
Paul kept it real. He knew he didn’t deserve his privileged office as an apostle. He knew that it was ONLY BY GOD’S GRACE that he did anything in the Lord:
1 Corinthians 15:10-11 ESV “But BY THE GRACE OF GOD I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though IT WAS NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
Paul wasn’t in competition with the other apostles. He credited God’s grace for his fruitful ministry. Do we have the same humble view of whatever we do in the Lord? Or do we think we deserve to be ministers of God because of what theologian schools we went to, (Acts 4:13) what pastor we studied under, (1 Corinthians 1:11-13) or how well we think we know the scriptures? (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 1 Corinthians 13:1-10)
When we look at ourselves what do we see, honestly? Hopefully we see a wretched human being in need of God’s grace and mercy. Hopefully we see someone who needs to repent. Hopefully when we look in the mirror all we see is people who need to be more like Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 ESV “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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