For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
These words should be challenging to each of us. How often have you thought yourself superior to someone else in one aspect or another? You probably haven’t said it aloud but you might have thought it. Thoughts like “I’m a better sportsman”, “I have a better grasp on the Scriptures”, “I work harder”, “I’m a better son/daughter”, “I’m a better parent”, “I’m a better teacher” and “I’m cleverer”. While those might not apply directly to you, I am sure you will be able to think of times when you have considered yourself superior to someone else in one aspect or another.
The Scriptures remind us in numerous places not to think highly of ourselves. Romans 12:3 says, ‘I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think’.* Galatians 6:4 says, ‘But let each one test his own work’. If we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize how all our works (even our best work) are as filthy rags as they are tainted with our sin.
The problem is we often think of ourselves too highly. We rate our works and our abilities much more than we ought. In Deuteronomy 8:17 the Israelites were warned, ‘Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.”’ It goes on to say in verse 18 ‘You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth’. It is a reminder to us that even though we might work hard and do something good; it isn’t only because of what we have done. It is because God has given us the ability.
Are you a good sportsman? Are you a good parent? Are you a good child? Are you a good employee? Are you a good boss? Are you a good teacher? Whatever you’re good at, whatever your works are – remember it is God who has given you that ability and remember to acknowledge Him.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to keep a right view of my works and myself and remember all my abilities come from you. Amen.
*All quotations are from the ESV