The following article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Tabletalk magazine.
Just as most of us cringe when we hear the sound of our own recorded voice, so most of us cringe at the thought of knowing ourselves rightly, even as Christians. But we must. God calls us to evaluate ourselves in Romans 12:3:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Paul wrote these words after setting forth the gospel of God’s redeeming grace in Romans 1–11. He then calls Christians to be living sacrifices through the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1–2. In verse 3, Paul urges us to use our minds to rightly evaluate ourselves; four times he uses the word “think” or “judge.”
How are we to think? Two categories emerge. On the one hand, we must not be arrogant and overestimate our gifts and abilities. On the other hand, we must soberly and accurately appreciate the gifts with which the Lord has endowed us and effectively use them in sacrificial service. We are to avoid both boastful pride and false humility.
How do we think with greater humility? First, we remember the source of our gifts. Paul asked the Corinthians: “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). We will not think too highly of ourselves if we understand that every gift we receive has come from God’s hand.
Second, humility comes as we thoughtfully pray for others as they exercise their gifts in Christ’s body. “Everyone among you” has gifts, not just you. Paul lists various gifts that Christ distributes in His church in Romans 12:4–8. Each of us needs the service of others; none of us has all the gifts. Jesus alone is full of grace and truth; there is no measure to His gifting, but there is to ours. When we pray that God would bless the unique service of other individuals in the church and encourage them in their efforts, we grow in appreciation of them.
Third, we grow in humility when we realize that the Lord equips us for the sake of serving others. Jesus did not exploit His position for His own sake but came and humbly served us; we should do likewise. When we have the mind of Christ and are others-focused, pride melts away. So let us simply get to work with whatever skills and abilities we have to serve others.
Next, how do we think soberly and accurately about ourselves and the gifts God has given?
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