3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (Galatians 6:3-4)
When we think we’re something when we’re nothing, of course we lie to ourselves. And if we persist, we will also deceive other people. But eventually we will be put to the test, and it will reveal our nothingness and disappoint both ourselves and others.
Also, it is easy to get a cock-eyed notion of what we’re capable of when we judge others or mentally charge them with neglect or pride or some other deficiency. So often we think, “I could do better than that.” But so often we are ignorant of what is involved—of the challenges to be overcome, of the opposing forces to be balanced, of the negotiations to be made, of considerations to be taken into account, of the skills required. The only way to find out how good you are at something is to test yourself, to prove your own work. That will turn into a humbling process. Ultimately, you’ll know more about yourself and you’re less likely to deceive yourself that way again.
We can be tested by the Lord through circumstances, and we can also test ourselves.
The one time I remember saying, “I could do better than that,” I then tested myself and over the process of a year or so discovered that I had indeed been deceiving myself. It was a painful experience, but I’m still grateful for having done it because of what it taught me about myself. It also taught me much greater respect for the person I had previously looked down on.