I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. (1 Corinthians 4:3)
How do you see yourself? For centuries, traditional cultures believed that high self-esteem was the reason for most of the trouble in the world. The Greek word hubris – meaning unhealthy pride or too high a view of oneself – was often used as the identifier for this problem. But today’s western culture sees this issue through a completely different set of lenses, and we are told that the reason for most of the trouble in the world today is caused by low self-esteem.
Regardless of where today’s message finds you, whether your self-esteem is “high” or “low,” the Gospel is the key to maintaining the right supernatural self-regard. Paul wrote that he cared not how he was judged by others, and even went so far as to disregard his own opinion of himself. The apostle cared only about the opinion of the Omniscient One. The verdict about Paul’s life was to be delivered from above, and he rested in the reality of that truth. The Gospel does not encourage us to think more highly of ourselves, nor does it encourage us to think less of ourselves. Rather, the Gospel is rooted in thinking of ourselves less because we are thinking more and more of our Savior.
Supernatural self-regard says, ‘I don’t care what you think of me, and I don’t even care what I think of myself,” because the verdict is already in: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Paul knew that he was justified (declared righteous) in the eyes of God because of what Jesus Christ had done for him. Paul did not need to prove himself to anyone, because he knew he was fully accepted in the Beloved.
Paul clearly had a puffed view of himself prior to meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus; he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews and in regard to the law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5). After Jesus saved him, it would have been easy for Paul to sink into dismally low self-esteem because of how he had persecuted, imprisoned, and even killed Christians. But Paul understood the Gospel and lived with what I call supernatural self-regard.
How is it with you? Are you driven by the opinion of others? Are you driven by your own opinion? Jesus sits on the throne of the entire universe as the King of kings, Lord of lords, and Judge of all things. The verdict is in and court is adjourned. You have been loved with an everlasting love; you are the “apple of His eye,” as David wrote in Psalm 17:8. Paul and David were both great sinners in need of an even greater Savior, and they both had supernatural self-regard because they kept their eyes on God.
What about you?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!