“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” (Romans 12:3 ESV).
When I sat down to write this I noticed the word grace for the first time. Paul wanted us to know that the words we are about to read come from a place of grace—unmerited favor.
Why would he use the word grace here?
One doesn’t have to look very closely at Paul’s writings to see that, before his encounter on the road to Damascus, Paul was pretty full of himself. As far as his place in Judaism was concerned, he really was something. He was an extremist of sorts; not content to allow people to choose their own paths in life, he saw it as his duty to God to bring all Jews who followed Jesus to prison.
But God was gracious to him. He showed Paul the truth about Jesus. Suddenly his religious world came crashing down around him. The lifestyle of devotion, that was his boast, no longer carried any weight. God turned him inside out.
So it was as one who had thought of himself more than he should have that he addresses his audience. They would have been familiar with his former way of life, and even more familiar with his current lifestyle. Paul had received God’s grace when his arrogance opposed Him. And so he sought to extend the grace that had been given him to his readers.
He wanted us to understand that, we are not entitled to a place of superiority over others. He wanted us to recognize that we are who we are by the grace of God alone. As such, we are to live our lives by the faith that we possess, seeking to grow that faith by His grace.
There was a time in my life where I was completely wrapped up in my staff position at a church, so much so that when that position was gone it felt as though I died. I thought way too much of myself. Rather than maintaining perspective—with sober judgment—I lost who I was in Christ.
The danger of thinking that we are really something is that it positions us on a pedestal, in our own eyes, and we find ourselves overlooking the needs of others. We carry ourselves as though what we have to offer the Kingdom of God is somehow more important than what others have to offer the Kingdom of God.
I’ve used the scripture many time on this blog, so I must still need to learn more from it: “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all’” (Mark 9:35 ESV).
Our years as Christians. Our educations. Our scriptural knowledge. None of these things make us more Christian. When we finally come to the place in our faith walks where we are more concerned about others than we are about ourselves, that is when we can truly understand Paul’s use of the word grace in Romans 12:3.
Blessings on your weekend!