Few things in this world are as self-focused as the human ego. Every triumph and every slight has the potential to send us either into pride or despondency. Yet, in this passage from 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul shows us another way: a way where we forget ourselves to the point where we not only cease caring what others think, but where we even fail to care what we think of ourselves. Instead, we rest and rejoice in what God thinks of us in Christ.
This passage helps us understand how a heart changed by God shows unity and humility, unlike the conflict and boasting in the Corinthian church. We often think that either too much or too little self-esteem is bad, but the gospel offers a different perspective. It shows us how our egos naturally work, and how they can be transformed by faith.
1. The natural state of our ego
Our ego can make us proud and lead us to look for our value in places other than God. This idea is also in Soren Kierkegaard’s book, “The Sickness Unto Death”. This kind of pride can make us always compete with others and keep us from being truly happy. It can also make us depend too much on what others think about us. The solution? Accepting ourselves and not worrying too much about what others think.
2. The change that the gospel brings
The gospel teaches us a different kind of humility. C.S. Lewis explains it as being genuinely interested in others, not thinking less of ourselves. This humility doesn’t depend on praise or recognition. It helps us appreciate things for what they are, not for what they can do for us.
3. How to experience this change
Paul talks about how God’s approval is more important than anyone else’s. In Christianity, God’s approval comes before our actions. This is possible because Jesus took the punishment we deserved, freeing us from always trying to win approval. Believing in Jesus helps us see our true worth, leading to a freedom that comes from not focusing on ourselves.