Humility and Recognizing Your Spiritual Gift

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

Paul is here speaking with apostolic authority to urge the Roman Christians to humility.  The phrase “the grace given to me” in verse  is parallel to the phrase “the grace given to us” in verse 6.  Paul had the gift of apostleship to which he is now appealing.  Instead of prideful thinking, we are to think of ourselves correctly (“with sober judgment”) based on the fact that God has given to each a measure of faith.

This is not, as some argue, a statement that all human beings have the gift of saving faith.  This is instead a statement that each of the Roman believers have been giving a certain amount (“measure”) of faith.  All those who have “saving faith” are saved!  Those who are not saved do not have “saving faith”.  The faith spoken of in verse 3 may be related to our gifts described in the following verses.

There are two reasons that this statement should stifle pride in our lives.  First, whatever we have has been given to us from God.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:7 states:

For who sees anything different in you? 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?

Secondly, every believer has a measure of the same faith from the same God! As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6,

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; [5] and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; [6] and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

Being humble does not mean you cannot recognize the giftedness that God has given you.  In fact, part of thinking “with sober judgment” about who we are involves a conscious recognition of our own spiritual gifts.

Therefore, we shouldn’t go around with head hung low bemoaning the fact that we can’t do anything. Instead, Paul is saying that we should not think any higher or lower than we ought. We’re no better than any other believer, since we have all been given whatever gifts we possess. But we do have gifts that should be recognized and used for the edification of the body.

One comment

  1. This is very true. What this passage doesn’t address directly is where I struggle the most. Namely, I go through long spells where it seems that God doesn’t want to use the gifts He has given me to use.

    This isn’t the case right now as I’ve just returned from teaching hermeneutics to a group of about 250 untrained pastors ministering on the front lines in the third world. I don’t consider myself particularly qualified since I’m not a pastor myself, but I have some education that I can use to build up those who are doing the real work out there. So I’m well humbled by the fact that God can use me beyond my own self-assessment.

    In general, though, my gifts don’t fit well into normal ministerial categories. So leaders in the Church don’t often consider me for ministry that I’m gifted to accomplish when opportunity comes up. (I’m not gifted in leadership, so I’m not about to initiate my own endeavors – past attempts at such things have all failed.)

    But that brings me to my point here. In verse 5 it reads that we are “members of one another” and immediately following in verse 6 regarding such differing gifts as each member has it reads, “let us use them.” So inasmuch as we see humility and sober judgement in others regarding the use of their gifts, we should be open to relying on the gifts others in areas where we are not gifted.

    I see that this is too often not done, or done more as a matter of structural convenience rather than as a matter of ministerial development. In other words, we find people to fit a preconceived ecclesiological format rather than looking at the members we have and developing the ecclesiological structure according to the gifts that God has provided the church in the membership.

    As an example I know a man whose life in Christ has grown considerable later in his life. He’s a contract construction worker and has no formal education. However, he has endeavored to study diligently and has grown is his knowledge of the Bible, his ability to articulate what he is learning, and his desire to see it make an impact in other people’s lives. The church where he was a member for many years has had some spiritual problems and has had all kinds of trouble finding a good pastor. For a time he was preaching and teaching on Saturday evenings and his wife had taken on the youth programs because no one else would, or could, do it. The church council didn’t like these things because they were outside the way the church had always done things. So they shut down the Saturday night service and dismissed his wife when she opposed a matter of bad doctrine handed down from the denomination although the church was getting ready to leave the denomination for that very thing. The church leadership failed to recognize the gifts that God had provided for the ministry of that church in the people He gave to them.

Join the conversation . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s