Romans 12:3 ESV
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.
With Sober Judgment
I think sometimes that people assign to the Lord’s servants attitudes, motives or personality traits that are not theirs. And, that is because they are judging them by human standards rather than by the Word of God. Human psychology has so replaced the working of the Holy Spirit in so many lives, that many of the Lord’s servants, I would suspect, are being misunderstood.
For, you see, if a believer in Jesus Christ is truly following the Lord Jesus in surrender to his will for his or her life, it is the Lord who will equip him or her for service, and it is the Lord who will assign to him or to her the ministry, the task, and the role within the body of Christ that God had destined for him or for her to fill even before the creation of the world.
Yet, I believe this is a difficult concept even for many Christians to understand, because we were programmed to think within the confines of institutional religion. We were programmed to think that gifts and ministries are assigned by church leaders and that they should fit in within the confines of denominational preferences, and should be based on human talent.
But, when we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, his Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, to equip, gift, empower, strengthen, encourage, lead, and guide us in the way He would have us go. The Spirit gives us the gifts, not us or any other human. And, God assigns what roles we are to fulfill within his body, which may or may not fit with assigned ministries within institutional religion.
So, if we are operating in the power of the Holy Spirit within us, using the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the roles God has assigned us within the body of Christ, then not one of us should ever take credit for what God does through us. All the glory should go to God.
In the same respect, if a brother or a sister in Christ is operating in the power of the Holy Spirit within them, using the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the roles God has assigned them within the body of Christ, if what they are doing is consistent with God’s Word, then we should not assign to them motives, attitudes or personality traits that are not theirs.
For, all we have to do is read through the Bible to see how many of God’s servants and messengers were judged falsely, were misunderstood, and were criticized even by those within their own faith because they were obeying the Lord in doing what he assigned them to do. And, Jesus is a prime example of one who had this done to him.
A Godly Example
Jeremiah also comes to mind here, for he was assigned the task of giving out hard messages. God assigned him with the task of pointing out God’s people’s sins, calling them to repentance, and warning them of divine judgment if they did not repent.
But, this was not because Jeremiah liked saying these things. He knew he would be hated and rejected and that people would beat up on him because of what he said. He knew they would mock him in the streets. But, he did what the Lord assigned him to do because he loved God, and because he loved the people of God, and for no other reason.
So, not only should we, who are the Lord’s, not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but we must also be very careful to not judge our brothers and sisters in Christ by human standards.
This is not saying that we should never judge, for we are to judge sin, and we are to judge false teaching within the church. But, just because a brother or sister in Christ is in a ministry which doesn’t fit with our human thinking, because it doesn’t fit with our institutional religion mindset, we must be very careful that we don’t judge them as doing what they do in the flesh. For, they may very well be doing exactly what God has assigned them, and which may be very necessary to the spiritual growth and maturity of Christ’s body.
Romans 12:4-5 ESV
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
One Body in Christ
We should never be jealous of another believer and his or her gifts or ministry, wishing that could be us. And, we should never resent another believer’s gifts and ministries just because they don’t fit in with our human mindset, for we are all parts of the body of Christ, and we are all necessary.
Not one of us is better than another. We just have different gifts and functions within the body of Christ, which our Lord assigned. And, just because someone’s role and gifting may be like a modern-day Jeremiah, we should not judge them as being self-righteous or superior or judgmental. For, if they are truly following the Lord Jesus and his leading, they do what they do out of love for God and for his church. And, they do so fully aware that they will be misjudged, hated, rejected and even mocked, in return.
There is a philosophy which is being spread throughout today’s modern church that Jesus Christ just went around doing good to everyone, and he was nice and sweet and that everyone loved him. Not true!
Yes, Jesus is loving and kind, full of mercy and compassion, but he spoke the truth in love, and it was hard truths, too, and he did not mince words. He didn’t go around patting people on the back, whispering sweet nothings in their ears, so that they would feel good about themselves, even in their sins. He told it like it is. He was kind. He was loving. But, he got right to the heart of the matter every time.
So, let’s be careful that we don’t shut out parts of the body of Christ, who are necessary parts, just because they don’t fit with our preconceived notions of what these body parts or gifts should look like. For, we must use Jesus Christ as our model here, for we are to be like him. But, it should be a true model of who he was and is, based on the whole of scripture, and not on select verses or on man’s notions of who Jesus was and is.
Remember that Jesus drove out the money-changers (the merchants) out of God’s temple with a whip. So, if some of God’s servants today speak strongly against false teachers within the church, or against the church turning their gatherings into a marketplace, we should not be appalled at their strength of speech.
For, we need these servants of the Lord. The church needs these servants of the Lord. They are necessary parts of the body for the building up of the body of Christ to maturity in Christ. For, they see as God sees, and they are listening to the Lord, and their heart cry is that of Jesus such as he had when he drove those money-changers out and told them that God’s house is to be a house of prayer.
We need these parts of the body of Christ just as much as we need all the other parts, for we need those who will say to the liars and thieves “Get out!”
Romans 12:6-8 ESV
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let Us Use Them!
So, not matter what gifts God has given you within the body of Christ, and no matter what role he has assigned to you, if it is from him, then do it without fear of what humans will think of you, and do it for the glory of God.
We are not going to be all the same. We were not made to be minions. We were all uniquely designed by God for very specific purposes. Our gifts and our callings will not all be the same. They will not all be of the same type even. So, we should never compare ourselves to others or let others’ opinions of us keep us from obeying our Lord, either.
I know that, within the body of Christ, that often the gifts of mercy, helps, service, giving, leading, faith, healing and teaching are raised up and are given high honor. But, if someone has the gift of prophecy (not fortune telling) and/or exhortation, then those are often treated with scorn.
Let me say here that I believe the gift of prophecy today is primarily that of sharing the Word of God in a very practical way which is applicable to our lives and world today. It is of the Spirit, not of the mind of humans, and it involves speaking God’s messages to the church today for the purpose of confronting sin, calling people to repentance, warning of judgment, and promising hope, healing and restoration to the penitent (contrite).
It also involves exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness, warning against false teaching and false teachers, and calling the church to come out from the world and out from intimacy with the ungodly. It is a call to holiness and godly living, and a call to leave our lives of sin behind us so that we can walk with our Lord in purity, faithfulness, and sincerity.
So, whatever gifts God has given you, and whatever role he has assigned you, do it for the glory of God in the power of God’s Spirit within you. And, if your gift and calling is not honored, and is even dishonored, don’t let that keep you from obeying the Lord. Keep on speaking out for the Lord his truths from His Word. Keep doing what he has called you to do, and leave the results in God’s hands. Make Jesus your heart’s desire and follow Him.
As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship You
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield…
Help us, Lord, to be faithful to you in fulfilling the roles you have assigned us within Your body, without fear.