Romans 12:3

Don’t Overestimate Yourself

Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

A transformed life reveals itself in our dealings with believers. It produces social results. People right with God do their best to be right with other saints.

Romans 12:3a For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you…

Having a significant message, and wanting us to realize its importance, Paul appealed to the authority of his office. The “grace given” to him is his Apostleship.

He wanted everyone to heed what he has to say about life within the fellowship. The Bible was written not only to individuals, but also to churches. It is more than a book for private devotions. It speaks to us not only as individuals, but also as members of a group. Our collective life is extremely important.

Our life is lived not only in the presence of God, but also in the presence of people. We are not islands. Isolation is not our lot. Life consists of relationships.

One of my seminary counseling professors said every non-organic mental illness he had ever seen was caused by a breakdown in relationships. He always pressed hard to find how well the counselee was relating to family and peers.

The professor called his method of counseling “relationship therapy”. I recall thinking this was an extremely insightful approach to counseling. It viewed persons not as loners, but as members of groups, which is an accurate portrayal.

This is especially true of believers. To be saved means to belong. By conversion we are members of a group, the family of God. Like it nor not, we are brothers and sisters in Jesus, and must learn how to get along with one another.

Romans 12:3b …not to think of himself more highly than he should think…

For Christians to live in harmony, it is essential to counter hyper-egotism, which always disrupts. The fact Paul put this first shows how important it is.

Christians do their best work if they labor in harmony. We are individuals, but achieve our highest results for God when our hearts are humbly knit together with unity of spirit and purpose.

For us to fit in with each other, it is important that we individuals see ourselves properly. To err in self-estimation creates problems in the fellowship.

Pride is bred in our bones. We must ever be on guard against it. An inherent tendency exists in each and every one of us to exalt ourselves. This pride, if unchecked, is disastrous to Christian fellowship.

Avoid being puffed up with ideas of our own importance. Do not over-estimate yourself. Every believer is merely a small part of a huge whole. None is indispensable. We owe it to one another to have a proper attitude toward ourselves.

There is a way in which we have to feel we are important. Such an attitude is necessary for survival. We need a healthy sense of self-worth. However, we also need grace to keep it in the proper perspective.

Unbridled conceit is an odious quality. It loses people more friends and gains them more enemies than maybe any other vice. It makes us harsh to our subordinates and disrespectful to our superiors. It causes us to live cross-ways with the world and to believe we alone are in the right. It warps our opinions, making us skeptical and critical (B.I.). God grant us a better spirit…

Romans 12:3c …Instead, think sensibly,…

Don’t think like a drunken man in a stupor. Avoid being brash, hyper-extroverted, flaunting yourself. Have a sane self-judgment. Think sensibly.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet this is one of the hardest things in life to achieve. In nothing do people err more grievously than in self-analysis (Spurgeon).

It is difficult to estimate ourselves accurately. We are too close to us to be objective. Self-evaluation is a court room where the same person serves as witness, Judge, prosecutor, defender, jury, and defendant. This makes fair verdicts difficult.

Often we base our views solely on the flattery of close friends. Sometimes we judge ourselves not by our deeds, but by our intentions; many Christians are wonderful people in a fairy tale world somewhere. Sometimes we have goals too low for ourselves; at other times too high.

It is difficult to zero in on a proper self-appraisal. We need grace to give us spiritual insight. We know pride is wrong, but false humility is also wrong. True humility is not belittling oneself, but realizing we are still less than we ought to be, thus living in a state of constant self-surrender to God.

We do not need to downgrade us. It is okay to understand and appreciate our position in Christ. We should view ourselves as victors over sin, as children of the Most High God. We must recognize our strengths and build our lives around them.

It is as much a sin to think too lowly of ourselves as it is to think too highly. There is no virtue in a good singer whining, “I can barely carry a tune.” It is never right to speak untruth, even under the guise of humility. Honesty is acceptable. We have not only the right, but even the responsibility, to think of ourselves correctly.

Christ-followers never have the right to say there is nothing they can do in the fellowship. Do not underestimate yourself. You have received a particular gift and therefore power is available to help you fulfill that role.

If believers think they can do nothing, they are of little value to the Master. Thinking too little of self produces depression and distress. This incapacitates us. When we are in this way defeated before we even begin, the church suffers because work is left undone, and the individual suffers because he or she does not share in the rewards for Christian service.

Romans 12:3d …as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

We are to measure ourselves not by our own yardstick, but according to God’s estimation. His appraisal is; everything we are or have, we received as a gift from Him. “God has distributed” – to understand ourselves aright, we must realize that all we possess or do is God’s gift.

Every Christian must recognize and confess God gives all capacities and abilities. Even the means whereby we appropriate His benefits is nothing we can brag about. Ultimately, even our faith is God’s gift to us. Every devout heart realizes it is living above and beyond its natural capabilities. Without God’s aid our faith would wither.

Robert Robinson accurately described what we are by nature: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”

Christ stated our plight even more bluntly, “you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5). The person who accepts this verdict is well on the way to becoming something significant for God.

Proud people cannot succeed for God because they do not see themselves as receivers. Instead, they believe they are producers of good qualities. Our prideful, perceived originality makes us view the world as being in our debt. The whole world becomes not big enough to satisfy us fully. We are grumpy because the world is not giving us our fair share.

The humble, on the other hand, view everything they as being a gift from God. This mind-set causes us not to be proud, but rather to be cautious. We know we are under responsibility to perform. We have received and thus must give, realizing “to whom much is given, of him much will be required.”