“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
This ironic and biting phrase, “wise in thine own eyes,” occurs seven times in the Bible-five times in Proverbs, twice in Romans. The first occurrence is in our text. Its message always is one of sharp rebuke to anyone who would “think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). This unpleasant characteristic is one we readily associate with other people rather than ourselves, but it is a sin into which all of us can easily fall when we start criticizing others or complaining about how we are treated.
Note the other occurrences. “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. . . . Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. . . . The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason” (Proverbs 26:5,12,16). Therefore, God regards not merely boastful men, but also foolish men and lazy men as “wise in their own conceit.” But note also Proverbs 28:11: “The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.”
The two New Testament occurrences relate to racism and status-seeking, respectively. “For I would not, [Gentile] brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Lastly, and importantly: “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16).
Pride of position, or intelligence, or race, or status, or wealth, as well as laziness and foolishness-all constitute ungodly conceit, and should be corrected. HMM