None of us likes a braggart. You stand next to someone bragging about themselves for all of 2 seconds and then you have to move or throw up.
It is like being sucked into the bathtub drain. It loudly promises big things, but in the end we will simply swirl around the tiny hole that can’t really fulfill all it promises.
But honestly, all of us see ourselves with more generosity than we should. All of us think more highly of ourselves than we deserve. What we need is a good dose of reality concerning ourselves.
John Calvin states:
As a consequence, we must infer that man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.1
Calvin is simply restating what Isaiah learned in experience in Isaiah 6. A sinner beholding the majesty and glory of God, will at once be struck by his own sinfulness and wretchedness.
This, I think, is the beginning of suppression.
Paul tells us in Romans 1:18, that
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
When a person is confronted with the splendor of God in General Revelation, if left to themselves, he will seek to suppress the truth of God’s glory. However in God’s grace, by his sovereign hand, God will break through that muddled confusion of suppression and change the heart of some. So when they see the glory of God in all that he has made, they will see themselves as sinful and will turn towards their creator begging for mercy.
We must, if we are to view ourselves rightly, take a good long gazing look at who God is, what God is like, and how glorious is God’s nature.
Then and only then can we understand ourselves rightly.
1 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 39.