Honestly Evaluating Yourself: What Do Others See and Hear?

a man wearing glasses looking out a window

Even as Christians, we often think too highly of ourselves. If we need to consider who we really are before God or speak of ourselves to others, how can we honestly evaluate ourselves?

We could look at many passages, but for the sake of brevity, consider two verses from 2 Corinthians. Paul’s criteria for others to evaluate him were simple—what “he sees in me or hears from me” (2 Cor 12:6). He also commanded, “Look at what is before your eyes” (2 Cor 10:7). 

What did Paul mean by these two criteria as an evaluation of himself—what others would see and hear

If we posed this question to Paul, perhaps he would point us to 2 Timothy 3:10 and answer, “That’s easy—my conduct and my teaching.” Maybe he would remind us of Philippians 4:9 and that the Philippians not only “learned and received” God’s truth from Paul, but they had also “heard and seen [it] in me.” Maybe he would recall his priorities for Timothy whereby the church was to “see” Timothy’s progress and persevere as his “hearers”—“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them. . . . Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching” (1 Tim 4:15–16).

In short, what people saw and heard in Paul was his Christian life and biblical teaching, how he lived and taught the Word of God. If people saw that he was a godly man and that he accurately taught the Word of God, then they would know that he was worthy of commendation. 

To explore biblical self-evaluation further, let’s see in the context of 2 Corinthians 10–12 how not to evaluate ourselves. Paul’s criteria (“see and hear”) were necessary because of so-called “super-apostles” that were evaluating themselves “according to the flesh” (2 Cor 11:18). Their criteria for evaluation included bodily presence and oratorical ability (2 Cor 10:10; 11:6a); how good one looked in comparison to someone else (2 Cor 10:12); the strength of one’s background and heritage (2 Cor 11:22); the titles (e.g., “apostle”) they gave themselves (2 Cor 11:13–15); and the unverifiable experiences (visions) that they claimed (cf. 2 Cor 12:1). If their words were unconvincing, they could be pushy, manipulative, and physically abusive (2 Cor 11:20). Paul called them servants of Satan who led the church into division, which then led to their own destruction (2 Cor 11:15; 12:20). Their criteria for self-evaluation were flawed, and what Paul saw and heard of these men, even secondhand, was damning, to say the least. 

How can you honestly evaluate yourself? What do others see and hear in you? Do you live and speak the Word of God? Better yet, what does God see and hear—him who sees our every action and hears our every word, including the actions played out in our hearts and the words spoken in our thoughts (Ps 139:1–6, 23–24)? 

“Whatever you do, in word or deed [what you say and do], do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him” (Col 3:17). 

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Author a man wearing glasses looking out a window

David Huffstutler

Pastor First Baptist Church, Rockford, IL

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a PhD in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.