Jump Start # 2604
Romans 12:3 “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”
Our verse today is a tough one. It’s not the understanding part, but the doing part. It’s about balance. It’s how we see ourselves and how we view others. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to—that’s the principle, but that’s a lot easier to say than to do.
As parents, we think our kids are the best. As grandparents, we think those cute little darlings are the stars of the universe. Our kid is the best on the team. Every dad who has ever coached a team has had to deal with the upset parent because their child is sitting on the bench. The upset parent feels that their child will make all the difference. He’s all star material in their mind.
Balance in our thinking. That’s tough. It’s even hard among preachers. We try to be humble, but with every visiting preacher, the home preacher thinks it’s time to pack the bags and head out because he can’t equal the talent that the congregation loves in the guest preacher. “Wish we had preaching like that all the time,” I heard one guy gushing over a visiting preacher while I was standing next to him. Another said, “Boy, I wish you’d move here.”
Balance—how does one find it.
First, do not think too highly of yourself. The text says, “not more highly than he ought to.” You’re not the greatest, best or one of a kind. The world didn’t stop when you were born. The kingdom will not collapse when you leave this planet. Thinking too highly will lead to pride and trouble. It will put you in a place that you’ll likely make mistakes. You feel that certain passages are for others, but not for you. You’ve got it all under control. Everyone else needs this stuff, not you. Paul’s words were not directed to a conference of preachers, but to the members of the Roman church. All of us need this. Too proud to follow the lead of shepherds. I know so much that I don’t have to listen to the sermon. I am better than others.
Sometimes secular education will put a person there. An attorney, a doctor, and a mailman all sitting on the same pew. The lawyer and the doctor have spent years in college. The mailman didn’t. The “professionals” belong to professional organizations. They have special conferences that only their people can attend. Nothing at all wrong with any of this except, being more intelligent in one area does not make one a better person. All three of them need Jesus. All three of them need to be responsible to the congregation. Thinking I’m better than others will make one bossy, and too good to do things.
I knew an elder years ago who was a CEO of a large company. He was very wealthy and very influential in the community he lived in. We had a work day at the church building one day. Folks were cleaning the outside and the inside. We were giving the place a real polish. I went looking for this man and found him in the men’s bathroom, on his knees, scrubbing a toilet. He was whistling as he was working. What a lesson he taught. He wasn’t too good to do that. Someone had to do it and it might as well been him, he thought.
Don’t think too highly of yourself. You are not beyond sin. You are not the best to ever come along. You are not beyond learning, being corrected or even doing better. When someone pulls out the, “Do you know who I am,” statement, they are thinking too highly of themselves. One who thinks too highly, wants to run the place. He doesn’t view himself as an equal. He is not a team player. He’s the best. And, that pride stinks. Others see it. And, they don’t like it.
Second, that balance must keep us from going too far the other way. It’s one thing to think too highly and that must be dealt with. But, just as wrong is to think too lowly of self. It’s believing that one is not capable of doing anything right. It’s believing that God had to choose you because you were the last one standing in line. It’s seeing little good that you add to a congregation. It’s believing that if you dropped out no one would miss you. And, this spirit is no better than thinking too highly. This is not humility. This is low or no self esteem. God loves you. Jesus died for you. God has blessed you, forgiven you and gifted you with talents that you are special at. When our balance is out of whack, we compare ourselves to others and we always come out on the low end of the stick. I sure can’t preach like that guy. I can’t lead singing like that guy. I can’t do anything. Stop saying that, because it’s not true. If everyone could preach, the pulpit would be crowded and the pews would be empty. Too often in a congregation, those that serve publically, get all the attention. The backbone of the congregation is the love, support, connections that made throughout the week. The phone calls. The meals taken. The cards sent. The people invited. The encouragement given. Many do not see these things. Many do not even know about those things. But it is those things that make all the difference.
Too high…too low—it’s a balance. It’s a tough one to figure out. Sometimes, like that ole’ teeter-totter, we are up and then we are down and it takes a while to find that right balance. You need others. They need you. And, all of us need Jesus.
Hope this helps…