The first 11 chapters of Romans are considered doctrinal in nature. They deal with the theological concepts of the Christian Faith and provide very little in the way of actual instruction. Laid out before us are the great Truths of what God has done on our behalf and we are compelled to either believe and accept these Truths or deny and reject them. Salvation is defined, Sanctification described, and the Eternal Security of the believer declared. Yet absent from the first portion of the Epistle are the practical directions for living the day-to-day Christian life. These are reserved for the closing chapters which are before us now.
There is no lack of literature which man has produced over the centuries detailing the recommended lifestyle and behavior of the religiously devout. Ranging from the esoteric and sublime to the absurdly meticulous, volumes have been filled which recommend countless approaches to living the higher life. But the Bible never prescribes ostentatious piety or the self-inflicted sufferings of the monastic martyr. God is not impressed by such theatrics. No, the instructions given to us in the Scriptures are far less quixotic and much more mundane.
Relationships are the focus of the Christian life and how to relate to others is what the final chapters of Romans deal with. For if we could boil down the ideal life of the servant of Jesus Christ, could we do any better than the careful following of our Lord’s commandments:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
This is really the summary of Romans Chapters 12-15; we are essentially told as much in 13:8-10. To love God and love others is to fulfill the guidelines of living the Christian life. Let us now take a closer look at the relationships of the Christian described in this passage:
Relationship To God
First and foremost is the Christian’s relationship to the Lord. The vitality of the Christian’s spiritual life rests upon how healthy his walk is with God. Verses 1 and 2 of Chapter 12 emphasize this most important of relationships by urging the Christian to present his body as a living sacrifice for the Lord’s service. We looked at these verses previously so we will move on to the next verse:
Relationship To Self
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
After our relationship to God, the next most important relationship is that to ourselves. Not that we should ever be fixated on our own selves; quite the opposite. But to have a proper, honest, and accurate view of who we really are is extremely crucial. We are told to think soberly; not to regard ourselves more highly than we should. And this is the tendency of every person, is it not? Obviously, those who do not know Christ are absorbed in their own sinful desires, catering to their own wants and needs above anyone else’s. But what about Christians? Are we not prone to the same errors in the flesh? It is amazing how many ministries have been ruined and how much real potential has been wasted in the Body of Christ through the corruption of pride. Those who hold offices in the Church often become puffed-up, believing that the Lord’s work would grind to a halt if they weren’t there to keep things going. This is utter nonsense. God did not need Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, He didn’t need David in order for His Temple to be built, nor did He need any of the kings and prophets of the Old Testament for His purposes to be fulfilled. Ultimately, every servant of the Lord in the Bible was replaced by another, either through their own death or their own failure to obey God; not a single one was irreplaceable. If God was able to get along without all of these, do you really suppose that He would be unable to get along without you?
This is the reality of serving the Lord. Each of us is called to a unique service that God has pre-determined for us to do. But no ministry is ever indispensable to the operations of the Kingdom. Even the mightiest and greatest of preachers grow old and die, only to be replaced by someone else, someone younger whom God has ordained to take over. How can any of us entertain the notion that we are someone whom God cannot do without? Pride is one of the most dangerous snares to the Christian, particularly to the Christian involved in service and ministry. It is no accident that Timothy was warned when installing officers into his local congregation to:
“Not [ordain] a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6)
It takes some time walking in the Faith to recognize just how helpless and hopeless we are apart from the Lord working in us and through us! Pride, or thinking of one’s self more highly than we should, is the sin which condemned the devil. God has always resisted the proud (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5), and it is this sin which is so uniquely insidious.
To think soberly is to think correctly about who we are, and this would include maintaining a proper view of who we are in Christ. The idea of Romans 12:3 is not to practice self-condemnation, but to see ourselves how God sees us. God does love each of us and His love for us should bring comfort and security to our hearts. He gave Himself for us and has endowed us with a dignity that is only possible for those who are in Him. As members of His Body, we are special to God; but none of us is more special than another. Lord willing, we will look more into this next time starting in Verse 4.
Until then, may the Lord greatly bless you.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,