Title: Yourself in Perspective
Scripture Passage: Romans 12:3-8
These verses give us the first example of what a transformed mind looks like. Such individuals recognize that they are only part of the puzzle, part of a team consisting of the rest of the church.
The Core Teaching:
Romans 12:2 has urged the Romans to have a renewed mind, which is one set on the Spirit rather than the flesh (Rom. 8:5). These verses show some of the specifics of what it looks like. A renewed mind does not have an overly inflated opinion of itself. It recognizes that while you are incredibly important to God, everyone else in your local assembly of believers is too. God has given you certain gifts, but he has given other gifts to others that you do not have. They are all gifts from God, not something you can boast about, as if you are responsible for your giftedness. So let each person exercise his or her own gift for the good of the whole body.
The Word Speaks:
In this passage, Paul gives the Romans the equivalent of what he gave the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12. In 1 Corinthians, his picture of a body with many parts especially targeted a local group of believers in a house church. The local church is the first and most important way to read these words in Romans as well. In a local group of believers we will find different kinds of God-given talents and roles. Some are good at seeing the way forward (prophesying). Others are good at informing others about who we are and how we live (teaching). Some are great at encouraging or serving. Some are good at leading. Notice that Paul puts this role near the end!
The lists of roles in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 have really resonated with some Christians in recent decades. You can even take “spiritual gift tests” to find out what your particular “gift” is. These tools can be helpful, but they can also feed a certain narcissism and unhealthy introspection. They can turn Paul’s instructions about appreciating each other into a mirror to admire ourselves. Paul never meant these lists to be exhaustive or to pigeonhole what God does with you. We can grow. God can change us. What these lists are really about is us appreciating each other and not thinking too highly of ourselves (12:3). They are as much about me realizing who I am not as who I am.
Responding through Prayer:
Father, help us to see ourselves in proper perspective, as only one member of a body that functions together as one.