Now that we understand the basic foundation of our response to what our Lord’s done for us personally, we’re moving outward a bit. Now we’re going to examine who we’re supposed to be and how we’re supposed to act within the Body of Christ, the other believers around us.
Paul starts out by saying “By the grace given to me,” which is a reference not to saving grace but to something else. “Grace” just means “undeserved favor.” Although we often use to refer to what he does for us at the moment of belief (justification, redemption, adoption, etc.), here it’s talking about Paul’s calling as an apostle and the spiritual authority that went along with that. God’s grace not only saves us; it also enables us, calls us, and gifts us with what we need to be a productive part of the Body.
That leads us to Paul’s main topic in today’s passage. By his authority as an apostle, he tells each of us not think more highly of ourselves than is warranted, but to think of ourselves with “sober judgment.” Let’s talk for a moment about what he’s not saying. There's such a thing as false humility out there, as opposed to the real thing.
Let me give an example of false humility vs. the humility that comes from sober judgment. Various people for several years have been telling me that I teach well. I’ve led several Bible studies, preached several times, and written for this Blog for a long time. I’ve gotten compliments from Christians from all walks of life. My wife, who never hesitates to inform me when I’m not performing up to par, tells me that I can teach really well. So does it do anyone any good for me to say “Nah, I’m a lousy teacher. My teaching isn’t worth warm spit.”? What’s going to be the result of that? I’m going to be reluctant to teach. And if I can really teach, then the Body of Christ is deprived of my contributions.
On the other hand, I’m a lousy administrator. I’m horrible at it. If someone tried to put me in charge of a committee, I’d resist strenuously. I’d tell them, “That’s really not where I’m gifted.” That’s not false humility or really being humble at all: I’d just call it realism.
To me the proper attitude is to look soberly at what I seem to be really good at, cultivate those gifts, use them in service to the Body of Christ, and to quickly acknowledge that I didn’t earn them or deserve them. Anything that I have that’s good, I got from God.
We’re supposed to look at our gifts with sober judgment “in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Again, this isn’t saving faith, but the simple trust in him that he has given (or will give) me whatever I need to do whatever he’s called me to do. As someone put it to me years ago, he never calls where he doesn’t provide.
Then he gets into specifics on gifts. To the degree I'm telling you stuff you already know, I apologize, but these all bear repeating:
· We’re all members of the Body of Christ. Like Paul talked about in more detail in Corinthians, the Body needs each of us, and we need to be connected to the Body, just like I need my arm and my arm needs me.
· The arm is not the foot, nor is it supposed to be. The Spirit chose to make me an elbow or a foot or a nose, and I don’t need to be jealous of another part.
· Whatever your part is, you need to use it to contribute to the fullest extent you can. If your part is prophesying, do it in accordance with the strength and resources God’s given you. If your gift is service, then serve with gladness. If you part is to teach, to encourage, to give, to lead, or to show mercy, then do it with a glad heart, not seeing it as a duty to perform but an opportunity to part in something grand.
· Keep in mind that this all comes from him, and as such all glory goes to him. No gift from the Spirit is meant to draw attention to the person possessing the gift. Nor is it there to make the believer feel superior to any other believer with a different gift. As someone pointed out to me, instead of talking about how I’m gifted, it might be better to say I’m the gift to the Body, and the spiritual gift (teaching, mercy, etc.,) is just the Spirit’s way of using me to help the Body.
Whatever you are, whatever your gift, it all comes from him and goes back to him.
Lord Jesus, however you want to use me, the answer’s “yes.” Help me to see the wonderful opportunities you’ve put in front of me every day to serve you by serving others.