“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Rom 12:14-18 NLT)
It’s so easy to think we know more than we really do or that we’re the exception to the average. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t celebrate real talent or enjoy your strengths and skills. NHL players obviously are better than average hockey players and there’s no need to say they aren’t. Continuing the thought, as people we tend to judge others based on their actions, while we judge ourselves based on our good intentions rather than what we actually do. Both of these things result in viewing ourselves through a much gentler lens than we use on others. The tendency then is that we view our own actions and lifestyle as superior to others. The spontaneous person wonders why others can’t be more easy going, while the organized person thinks others lack discipline. When I married Michelle we initially clashed quite a bit over our personalities and choices. Michelle is the social, spontaneous one, while I am more organized and reserved. Over time we learned that neither approach is right or wrong and there are strengths and weakness in both of our natural tendencies. In the end we balance each other out and it’s no different in the body of Christ.
Instead of overestimating our abilities or considering our own choices, opinions and lifestyle to be superior the Bible teaches almost the exact opposite. Romans 12:3 reads “Because of the privilege and authority[c] 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.” (Rom 12:3)
We’re called to honestly evaluate ourselves, rather than overestimating ourselves. One of the things that seems to happen over a long time spent in one church, family, community or organization is that we accumulate relational wounds. Things are said, offenses given and received, mistakes made. Unfortunately, we can sometimes draw lines in the sand and decide that because we got hurt or so and so said or did such and such that we cannot be with those people. We are never going to be best friends with everyone, but we are called to do our best to live in harmony with others. I love this line “Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” (Rom 8:16b NLT). In a world where most of us think we are better than average, we can bring ourselves down a notch and just be real people. Secondly, don’t think you know it all. In other words, don’t be conceited. Google knows everything, but I don’t, and I can just be myself and hang out with regular people.
Now we’re going to flip the script a bit. No one should think they are better than others, but with Christ, everyone IS better than average. You are loved and valued by Jesus just because you exist. You don’t have to prove yourself, earn your credentials or make your way to the top to be valued by God. We are not gifted and talented at the same level, yet we all have the same value. A.W.Tozer says “The service of the less gifted brother is as pure as that of the more gifted and God accepts both with equal pleasure.” So, whether I am less or more gifted than someone else is irrelevant as God does not measure me by my talents or skills. God loves me the same whether I am a good driver or a bad driver.
God created us to find our identity in relationship with him not in comparing ourselves to other people or judging other’s opinions. I can celebrate other people for who they are and trust that God has a plan and calling for them just as much as he does for me. I can live in harmony with others. If I trust my relationship with God and that he loves and values me, I am freed from the fear of failure, I am freed from the desire to make myself look good in front of others. I know I am loved and valued just because I exist. Then maybe I can honestly say, I’m not too proud to hang out with ordinary people and I don’t know everything. I can consider my contributions to the world meaningful, without thinking I must be superior.
Here are a couple practical things to close off with:
- Everyone is strong in some areas, weak in others, average in the rest – so own it. Be yourself and don’t think you need to be superior to others. Don’t beat yourself up over your weaknesses
- No one likes a know-it-all. You might actually be wrong on some things. Be humble and just be your average self hanging out with average people. You don’t need to prove yourself superior to be likeable and have good friends
- Celebrate others because their contributions and skills are just as meaningful as yours
- Jesus loves you for who you are. You cannot fail hard enough to lose his love
- Jesus loves you no matter what you do. All you need to do is trust in him.
 A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, pg 120