By Cecil Willis
The impelling desire that we have to be held in honor and favor by our associates, to a great extent, regulates our activities. We sometimes ask, “What do others think of me?” We are very concerned about what men think of us. We want those about us to have a good opinion of us, and this desire has often motivated individuals to make pretensions that were not genuine. But we have valued too highly the estimates of men. We have been too concerned about what men think about us. Men’s judgments are fallible. They are not always true judgments, and therefore, there is no guarantee of good character simply because we have the approval of men. Friends and admirers may think of us almost as god. When Paul healed the impotent man in Lystra the people favorable to him said, “the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men” (Acts 14:12). They called Paul, Mercury, and Barnabas, Paul’s companion, Jupiter. On the other hand, those who were unfavorably disposed toward Paul, on another occasion, thought of him quite differently than as a god. Festus, after hearing the sermon of Paul, declared that his much learning had made him mad (Acts 26:24). Paul is here said to be crazy. So, we readily can see that human judgments concerning us may vary. They are often formed because of an already existing disposition toward us. In both the above cases taken from the Scripture, the judgments of men were incorrect. Paul was neither a god, nor crazy. It is futile to become too concerned about what men think of us.
It should be consoling to know that regardless of what men think about us, God’s estimation of us remains the same. God’s feeling toward us is not controlled by man’s, and whether we are in favor or disfavor in the sight of men, is immaterial with God, if we have been true to our responsibilities to Him.
Then, again, we ask, “What do I think of myself?” Am I like the Pharisees who exalted themselves and praised their own righteousness? Paul says to one, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Rom. 12:3). It is often characteristic of some men to over-estimate themselves, while others consistently underestimate themselves. Some think they are practically perfect, while others think they are “one talent” men, and can therefore do nothing. Our self-appraisals cannot always be trusted. There are thousands who have examined themselves by their own standards, and have concluded that they are saved from sin, but who actually are still in sin. They only think they are saved. Solomon said “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). Even our judgments of ourselves cannot be trusted, for they are also subject to error.
We have asked, “What do others think of me” Then, “What do I think of myself?” Now, “What does God think of me?” Of the questions we have asked, this last one is of greatest importance. It matters little what men think about us; it matters but little more what we think of ourselves. But the question that means more than all of these others combined, is; “What does God think about me?” This counts!
It might seem impossible ever to know just exactly what God’s reactions toward us are, but it is not. Men can know the exact action God will take toward them in the judgment by knowing what His action or feeling toward them is now. To find out God’s feeling toward us now, we must read his Word, for it contains the mind of God. (1 Cor. 2:8-16).
If we can objectively view ourselves in the light of the Bible, we can know very definitely what God thinks of us. After all, this is what counts! (2 Cor. 13:5)
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 45, p. 2
September 20, 1973