For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. — Romans 12:3
In discussing the right manner in which to view oneself, Paul uses a word that is commonly associated with intoxication — sober. Robert Mounce, reflecting on this passage, coined an interesting phrase: egoholics. An egoholic is someone who is addicted to … themselves. They think more highly of themselves than they ought to.
This is a natural inclination. Ever since birth, the world has revolved around self. We see the world through our own eyes. We process life through the lens of our own experiences. Our way of processing things must be the way everyone processes things.
“Sober judgment” is discernment that isn’t colored by false assumptions or outright lies. When we exercise sober judgment, we try avoid the intoxicating effects of taking ourselves too seriously.
Paul is certainly not advocating beating oneself up. The other extreme of thinking too highly of oneself is not thinking high enough of oneself. Sober judgment challenges us to think correctly about ourselves.
Without God’s grace, this would be a terrifying process. In fact, it’s why most people avoid the process altogether. It’s easier to live with an intoxicated self-image than the real one. But like all intoxication, it eventually wears off and the hangover hangs around.
Don’t be an egoholic. Rather than puffing out your chest, try bending your knee in prayer and thanksgiving. Thank God that your true self-image is found in Christ, not in culture or competition.