To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6, King James Version
C.S. Lewis, described as the "apostle to the skeptic," once wrote that when errors come into the world they come in pairs, as men are driven to one extreme or another. If you stop and think about it, you will probably agree with the brilliant former professor of Medieval English. Think of yourself more highly than you ought to and we say you are stuck on yourself–full of pride and arrogant.. On the other hand, if you constantly belittle yourself, your self‑image crumbles and you slide into debilitating depression.
Perhaps you have a very capable coworker who has to be constantly assured that she really is skilled and doing a wonderful job. Since she hasn’t learned to accept herself and she constantly has to be encouraged to cope with her feelings of insecurity. Maybe you even feel like that. So too, many capable men have gone from job to job because inevitably somebody gets more recognition than they do and they cannot cope with it. There is often no elasticity in self image–it is easily offended. Pride, or feelings of inferiority–we all move from pole to pole struggling with the acceptance of ourselves. The problem is not a new one at all.
Almost 1,900 years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to some men and women in the city of Rome and he gave them some advice which provides our guideline for living. He said, "This I say through the grace given to me to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly...." (Romans 12:3). Writing to the Corinthians, Paul warned of the dangers of pride resulting from feelings that you have “arrived.” He said, "If anyone thinks he stands or is secure, let him take heed lest he fall," (1 Corinthians 10:12).
There comes a great release of the soul when you can bring your feelings to God and learn that He accepts us on the basis of what Christ did at the cross. The Bible says, "God has made us accepted in the beloved,” who is Christ (Ephesians 1:6). When He accepts us, as we become His children through faith, we then enter into a new relationship with Him. In short, God has a will for our lives, and what happens is the outworking of His plan for our lives. It is when we refuse to believe that He has a plan that we are frantically pushing ourselves forward, nursing our fractured egos when somebody else gets ahead. We forget the truth of the Psalm which says, "For promotion comes neither from the East nor from the West, nor from the South, but God is the judge; He puts down one and sets up another" (Psalm 75:6). If someone gets the promotion you wanted, thank God that He has accepted you and put you where He wants you. This is why Paul wrote, "In every situation, learn to be content" (Philippians 4:11).
At the same time, we don’t constantly shrink within, thinking that we are worthless and no good to anyone. Take nothing and add Christ to it, and you have something touched by the Divine that is of eternal value. You do a disservice to grace when you belittle yourself. Think of it like this: God forgave us, so we can forgive ourselves; God loves us, so we can love ourselves; God cares for us so we can trust Him to work His will in our lives. Neither pride nor feelings of inferiority produce the kind of men and women who are happy and purposeful in life; but learning to accept the circumstances of life, and trusting God to work His will through them, is the key to turning the reins over to God. Then we can take down the armor and stop defending ourselves.
Resource reading: Romans 12: 1-7