Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
Most of the time this verse is offered as a warning against the sin of pride, and so it should be, but it has more to say to us than that.
The first thing to note is that Paul is not giving us advice he is giving us a command – two commands actually. The first is a negative command; not to think of ourselves more highly than we should. Paul words this as a command rather than as advice because it is a human tendency to avoid addressing our shortcomings. Our default position is self-protection and defensiveness.
Think of the times you have had to bring correction to a close friend. How many times has their reaction been to say, “thank you so much, I really needed to hear that!” Not often. Usually we are met with some sort of excuse, deflection or counter attack. And we all do the same thing automatically when we are confronted with our weakness.
The second command is a positive command; think of yourself with sober judgement. It is the solution to the usual failure to be honest with ourselves. So far so good, but my question is; “honest with myself about what?”
The easy answer is “my sin”. But, sin is not the only problem we choose not to be honest about.
The fact is, sin is not our only problem.
There are many aspects of my personality that I do not want to think about. Many failures that I would just as soon forget. Many fears that only come in the night and leave me sleepless and anxious. Many doubts I hate to say out loud. Could it be that when Paul tells us to think of ourselves with sober judgement he might be including all these things we hate to confront?
By interpreting this verse as nothing more than an admonition against pride we can avoid the hidden aspects of our personality and history, that sabotage our peace and wellbeing. I doubt this is what God had in mind for this verse.
Check back in on Monday for the conclusion of this discussion and hopefully a video of Mark explaining it as well.