For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
The Apostle Paul has just given us 11 chapters filled with why we should consecrate our lives to God: because of God’s great mercies toward us!
In the first two verses of chapter 12 he shows us what we are consecrating. Now in verse 3 he illustrates how we are to approach our Christian lives in order to be able to get out of the way and let the Lord effectively work through us.
The first word, For, is a word of connection, pointing back to what he has just said. “It ties spiritual service to spiritual dedication, the bridge between them being spiritual attitude,” (Mac) The proper attitude for any and all believers is humility.
Humility is a virtue hard-fought for. It is easy to let it slip through our fingers without even realizing it has escaped us. The harder we struggle against pride and try to stay humble the wider the crack in the door becomes for pride to slither through. We may become self-conscious, try too hard, or, worse, become proud of our humility.
We may be tempted to be self-deprecating. If I put myself down enough I’ll be humble, we might think. If I declare that I am truly worthless and therefore of no good use to God, then I’m not only humble, but I don’t have to lift a finger to serve the Lord. This, of course, is not humility, but rather laziness, self-indulgence, and hypocrisy, as well as prideful.
Not with-standing, the proper Christian attitude of true humility can be attained, but only with divine help, and we must take that fact seriously. Otherwise, we will miss the boat and fail to ever successfully serve the Lord in a way that brings Him glory. We must realize it isn’t about us, but about Him.
By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is a gift of God and not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, (Eph. 2: 8-10). God gets the glory, the honor, the praise, not me or you.
Do you understand the difference. Instead of me working for God, God works through me and you to accomplish His will. The glory and praise are His. Always! We are vessels, He is the Master, using the vessel how He will.
Our attitude toward humility is not to think more highly of [ourselves] than [we] ought to think. Paul can say these things with authority because it is by the grace given to me (that is, Paul). No believer can do anything worthwhile without God’s help. On our own we would be hopeless, but He is our help, and we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.
“No matter how well-grounded we may be in God’s Word, how theologically sound we may be, or how vigorously we may seek to serve Him, our gifts will not operate so that our lives can be spiritually productive until self is set aside,” (Mac commentary p. 157).
Humility is the most basic human virtue, only truly achieved through Christ, and it opens the door to love, power, and unity in the common faith.
In verse 3 Paul uses a form of the Greek word, phroneo, four times. It means not to overestimate oneself, but to think of ourselves as we really are. We are to ask God for wisdom and seek the truth about our gifts, talents, character, and so on. Paul warns, If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself, (Gal. 6:3). Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves, (2 Cor. 13:5).
The basis of pride is the belief that we have accomplished something in and of ourselves that is worthy of attention, even adulation. The truth is that we can’t do anything good by ourselves. The Scripture tells us there is none righteous, no, not even one! The reason for pride is a sense that we have a right to call glory to ourselves. But we don’t; it’s a lie. Paul asks the Corinthian church: And what do you have that you did not receive [from God]? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Cor. 4:6-7; cf 1-5).
By God’s sweet grace we’ll continue next time. May the Lord bless all with abundant mercy…mike.