Humility isn’t always a virtue humanity carries well. We know how limited our knowledge of the cosmos is. At least on paper we do. We may marvel at the wonders of the world, but that doesn’t keep us from thinking more of ourselves than we should.
Throw in religion and things get real strange. Surely, someone who knows their position before Almighty God could never think more of themselves, right? “Hold my communion cup,” he says!
Paul’s admonition in Romans 12 is to not think more of ourselves than we ought. That’s comforting because it tells me Christians have had this problem for a long time. Now, don’t disparage yourself. You are a child of God, after all! But, also, what’s wrong with us!
So, what did Paul have in mind when he wrote that?
Let’s look to The Message for help. Here’s how that’s translated: it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
I could fool myself into thinking I don’t think too much of myself. But I can’t hide from how I focus too much on myself and what I do for God. We love building our religious reputations. And we don’t mind if everyone else knows it. Lord, help us.
The prophet Amos saw of vision of locusts. He knew this to be a sign of God’s judgment upon the people of God. The locusts would come on the “latter growth.” So, this was it for the people. They would have nothing. Amos responds to God. He responds the same way after receiving another judgment vision. He asks, “How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”
Jacob is a petulant people. Many of them have thought too much of themselves. Way too much. But the prophet wanted God to remember the truth about them. They are so small.
God’s people do well to remember the same.