17 Feb 2012
While studying Romans chapter 12 recently some thoughts seemed to drift out of the following verses.
Romans 12:3 (AMP)
3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.
Paul begins with the strong apostolic warning that we should strongly seek humility. When, through faith, we diligently seek humility, we right away come to the realization that we are very small and God is very large; we are incredibly weak and He is superbly strong. Yet in this context of extreme diversity our God is immensely interested in everything related to our lives. [Psalm 139:3-4]
Moving toward humility can be a bewildering and often discouraging journey. Yet we find a helpful signpost snuggled among the branches that overhang our path. It simply reads: Think more of God and less of me. Humility is like a narrow road, it has pride ditches on both sides. Pride may be thinking of self as either higher or lower than is correct. To cross the threshold into either one of these side ditches conveys the consequence of a catastrophic collision of our honorable pursuit.
While Paul’s injunction toward humility has validity standing alone, Paul seems to have a specific purpose for this instruction.
Romans 12:4-5 (AMP)
4 For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use,
5 So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].
Paul reinforces a powerful truth found throughout the scriptures; we are not alone; we are a part of the whole. The effectiveness of our function as a part of the whole is acutely impacted by the measure of our humility. Pride separates. It separates us from God and it separates us from the rest of the body. As the Amplified Bible states, we are designed to be mutually dependent upon one another.
The work of God in and through our lives is accomplished to some extent to the degree that humble saints are mutually dependent on one another. Mutual dependency is God’s divine design. However this is not our normal practice. We have believed the pride promoting lie from our enemy that we are independent. Oh yes, we weakly or weekly worship with other saints, but we carefully keep them at a distance such that the authenticity of confessing our weaknesses and sins to one another is an altogether fictional idealistic inspiration that has no basis in fact. The mutually dependent on one another has been replaced with our determination to live the independent individualistic American dream, where we have no need to depend on anyone.
Paul, having established the requirement for humility [accurately thinking about God and ourselves]and the plan of God, [a body of mutually depend saints], now addresses how we are to support each other, by the exercise of our spiritual gifts for the mutual building up of His body.
Romans 12:6-8 (AMP)
6 Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;
7 [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;
8 He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.
Along with spiritual gifts, God in His wisdom and by His grace also gives us callings. In His big picture plan, He has things for us to do as a part of His body.
Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)
10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
However, we seem to have a prideful propensity to jumble the priorities of God. In the ministry of the Gospel:
Giftednessis important. Character is essential. Calling is critical.
Giftednessis something that God in His love and grace has given to us. Herein resides the oft occurring problem. We tend to put the focus on OUR gifts, and not HIM who gave them. We also often lose track of the fact that the purpose of our giftedness is purely for the building up of the mutually dependent saints for whom these gifts were given. Our focus on our giftedness carries with it the awful predisposition to become puffed up and self focused, in effect running to the bank to deposit God’s grace and power in our own account. This exercise of pride is effectively spiritual embezzlement.
Character is primarily up to us to pursue. We typically would prefer to focus on things given than things we are required to develop through dependency on God. In other words it is more enjoyable to exercise gifts than to pursue the exhausting work of continuous character development, though it is more essential. Giftedness without godly character is a plague.
Calling, the idea of calling is potentially confusing. We can understand calling as a lifetime endeavor or we can understand it as the result of quietly waiting upon God while seeking His face to get His direction for this day or this week. In either definition or those in between, to understand our calling, we must spend periods of time in the presence of God. The bottom line, if we desire to have any significant impact in heaven’s economy, we must be about what it is that God is doing in the bigger picture. Since we, to a large extent, do not understand what He is doing, it is imperative that we get clear instructions from Him.
God has also given some instructions revealed in His word which are also a part of our calling. For example, one of God’s revealed directions is to pray for God’s will to be done on earth. That is why we want to encourage you to pray daily for the Lord to rend the heavens and come down; that He will bring a revival awakening to our land.