Self-importance or humility?

The Preaching of Saint Paul at Ephesus, Eustache Le Sueur, 1649

Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Romans 12:16.

Whoever considers himself wise risks trusting his own judgment more than the Word of God. With the above recommendation Paul may have thought of Solomon’s advice: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). This verse is a warning against any wisdom that supposes it can go to the limit of what is permissible. Genuine godly fear, on the other hand, keeps one from evil. Our own intelligence leads to independence of God and thus on to a path of sin. We are then in danger of failing to inquire after God’s thoughts on our life, frivolously trusting in our knowledge and intelligence.

Now we can be grateful for our understanding or insight, but if we estimate them so highly that we are unwilling to listen to others, then things become serious (cf. Proverbs 12:15). It is a sign of godly fear to listen to good advice. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus to submit to one another in the fear of Christ (ch.5:v.21).

Insufficient knowledge of the thoughts and ways of God can lead to our believing ourselves to be wise and inclined to a sense of superiority. In Romans 11:25 Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that they were acquainted with the mystery of God’s way with the nations, on the one hand, and with Israel, on the other, so that they should not be wise in their own opinion.

Conceit and pride lead to a fall. As believers we must not forget that all the blessing that we have received is through pure grace, and that we are responsible to God for the way we conduct ourselves.

Image: By Eustache Le Sueur – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain,