Proper Perspective

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

- Romans 12:1–8

Paul begins his applications by telling us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord. He has just given us an example of the sacrifice of praise in his doxology (Romans 11:33–36), and now he exhorts us to live as sacrifices in all of life. He tells us that in order to live as sacrifices, we must have transformed minds; that is, we must keep everything in perspective.

If we want to keep things in perspective, there are two matters we have to bear in mind. We have to remember who God is, and we have to remember who we are. If we know who God is, it should not be too difficult to remember who we are. When we understand the true state of affairs, we realize that we can accomplish nothing of significance in this world apart from the grace of God. Of ourselves we can do nothing.

This can only make us humble. Paul shows his humility as he begins Romans 12:3, for he says that it is only by the grace given to him that he is able to exercise his apostolic authority and give them advice and commands. Similarly, knowing that all things come to us from grace should keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves.

But Paul goes on to encourage us to think of ourselves soberly, or accurately. Paul is saying that just as we are not to think too highly of ourselves, neither are we to think too lowly of ourselves. Our value comes from God, and we are not to despise that God-given value. It is very difficult for us to make a sober evaluation of ourselves. We tend to judge ourselves with rose-colored glasses one day and then look at ourselves with jaundiced eye the next. We excuse ourselves one day and are too harsh on ourselves the next. Our call is to judge accurately.

Having called on us to evaluate ourselves rightly, Paul then discusses the diversity of gifts in the church, which is Christ’s body (Romans 12:4–8). None of us is complete in ourselves. We need the gifts God has given to us, and so we desire to make sober evaluations. In this way all of us can make proper contributions to the body. Likewise we need to make sober, prayerful evaluations of others’ gifts so that they can also be of service to others in the church, the body of Christ.

Coram Deo

Tests that show us our psychological inclinations, talents, and aptitudes can be valuable in assessing our strengths and gifts. Learning our gifts will make us more useful members of Christ’s body. Through discussion and prayer with your pastor and other wise counselors, make a genuine effort to evaluate yourself and discover your gifts.

Passages for Further Study

1 Corinthians 4:7–8; 12:7–11
Philippians 2:3–11

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