Good morning, Gateway Chapel!
I need to be honest with you all this morning…I’m not into weight lifting. I just gotta clear the air.
I’m not currently into weight lifting, and I don’t plan on being into weight lifting anytime soon. If you look at some pastors on YouTube, you may think this is a disqualification according to some part of 1 Timothy you haven’t read before.
I remember this guy in college who seemed to be doing bicep curls since he came out of the womb. And he clearly really enjoyed doing bicep curls because whenever I went to the gym to do a light job on the treadmill as us golfers do, this guy was just moving heaven and earth.
But he looked...strange. Have you seen this before? Like Arnold Schwarzenegger but just his arms. No one had sat him down and asked, “Have you heard of squats?” He’s like no I haven’t heard of that.
It was obvious to all of us which part he was emphasizing because he thought it was the most important and yet it made him look strange.
How in the world is this going to turn into a sermon.
Throughout the New Testament, we are told that we are the body of Christ. Because of Jesus, there is one body and many members. We are the body. Cue the Casting Crowns song.
Is it possible that we make the body of Christ look like bicep curl guy? Is the body of Christ all arms? If we looked at the body of Christ, would we say, “That looks strange. It’s like a Veggie Tales character with no hands, feet, or ears.” Just like your body suffers if one part is emphasized over another, so it is with the church.
This morning we’re in Romans 12:3-8 where Paul is saying, “Because of Jesus, don’t be proud! Rather, humbly serve one another.” Don’t be puffed up, Paul says in verses 3-8, but because of Jesus, humbly serve one another with the gifts God has given you.
Paul gives us a command, an illustration, and a call to action. A command, an illustration, and a call to action.
3 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.
Paul first gives us a command…don’t be puffed up! Don’t be proud.
Why? Why is that so bad? Aren’t we supposed to have some pride? Isn’t that called self esteem? What’s wrong with self-confidence? Our world is run by self-confident people who take life by the horns and run businesses, run countries, run organizations, run churches. What’s wrong with pride?
Before we dive in let’s back up...
We’re in Romans 12, which is a part of the letter to the Romans by Paul the apostle. Romans is in the New Testament which is the part of the Bible that reflects on Jesus. His life, teachings, death, and resurrection and proclaims all the good things that have come and points forward also to his return.
We’ve been looking this whole year at the Biblical story as a whole, seeing how the Bible is a library of texts, both divine and human, with a unified story that leads to knowing and growing in Jesus.
And here is an oversimplified illustration of the Bible. The Old Testament points forward to Jesus giving us the need for a Savior and showing us glimpses of what he’s like. And we’re calling this sermon series, “Because of Jesus” because you could summarize the entire New Testament with the phrase, “Because of Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, because he is coming again soon…here is how we are to live.
Romans is tells us all about what is true because of Jesus. For 11 chapters Paul has gospel highlights throughout, we read them last week in Romans 3:23-24, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 8:37-39, so many others, and then he comes to this crescendo at the end of chapter 11...
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Which leads us right into where we were last week…THEREFORE!
Because of Jesus…because of all this…here is now how we live.
And last week we saw that because of Jesus, Paul invites us to be like Jesus as he offered himself fully to God and to be like Jesus and have our minds renewed.
What does it look like to have a renewed mind? Well, as we see here in verse 3, it means to not be proud. What’s wrong with being proud?
Pride forgets grace
Pride forgets grace
Romans 12:3 (ESV)
3 For by the grace given to me...
What is the grace given to Paul? Right at the beginning of Romans, Paul says
5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
Through Jesus, Paul has received grace, help, from God and the task of apostleship - being a messenger of God in order to help all people of all nations follow Jesus. Paul says in 1 Tim 1 that Jesus graciously showed Paul his perfect patience to be an example for others.
Yet, if anyone had the right to be puffed up and prideful, it was Paul. Paul is an incredible intelligent guy.
We all know arms guy in the gym, Paul would be brains guy. He would be like that cartoon Mega Mind.
He’s a genius. He could have exaggerated his importance easily. He seemingly had the weight of a global movement on his shoulders. He says in 2 Corinthians the daily pressure and anxiety he feels for all the churches. ALL of them. I feel pressure about 1 church, he feels pressure about ALL churches.
Paul was before the internet, but he was not before celebrity pastors. He was compared to a celebrity pastor named Apollos, and he says this in 1 cor.
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 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?
Paul says don’t be prideful. Why? Because all is grace.
You know what a pinch runner is in baseball? Somebody slow hits a double and then you put the fast guy in to run for him.
When the pinch hitter goes on second, he can’t say, “Look at me, I hit a double!”
The only reason he’s there is because of what the other guy did. He’s been put there because of the success of another in order to complete a task.
It’s the same with Paul, and it’s the same with us.
Do you see the grace in your life?
You’ve been adopted into the family of God. God didn’t have to choose you, but he did. All your sins have been forgiven. Past, present, future. You don’t have to feel bad enough for God to forgive you any more. You’ve been brought into the divine nature of God and been given his own Spirit. You have the mind of Christ. Jesus gave up his life for you so you could have peace with God. Romans says that while we are actively suppressing the truth of God made evident to all people, God sent Jesus to die for us so we could be his friend. You have purpose, you have gifts, you have life itself. All of this is grace.
Paul also says
Pride is poor thinking
Pride is poor thinking
Romans 12:3 (ESV)
3 ...I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment...
Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. Think with sober judgment. What’s the opposite of sober judgment? Being drunk.
The same phrase for sober judgment is used in Mk 5 and Luke 8 when Jesus heals a demon possessed man.
35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.
Paul is saying think in your right mind…don’t be demonically clouded in your drunk thinking by considering yourself more highly than you ought.
It’s easy to spot this in others. Reece Witherspoon famously got pulled over about 10 years ago, was a little tipsy, and told the COP, “Do you know who I am??” Thinking that Sweet Home Alabama would get her out of a ticket.
It’s hard to see in ourselves. Pride is like a great white shark without a dorsil fin. It’s incredibly dangerous and incredibly hard to spot.
If anyone had the right to think highly of themselves…it was Jesus. And yet Jesus, knowing his station with God, lowered himself as we read in Philippians 2. Jesus debased himself by serving those beneath him as we see him wash his disciples’ feet. And yet in that lowering, he was thinking in his right mind. He was actually following the true path to greatness.
We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds so we can think like Jesus who lowered himself to serve us.
Pride measures incorrectly
Pride measures incorrectly
Romans 12:3 (ESV)
3 ...each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Pride happens when measures ourselves by someone else. Paul says that’s wrong. Measure yourself according to what God has given you.
If anyone could’ve been proud and measured himself up against others, it was Paul. Listen to what he says in 2 Corinthians
12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.
Because of Jesus, don’t compare yourself with others.
Jesus ran from pride and comparison.
1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.
We need the Spirit of Jesus to renew our minds and stop comparing ourselves to others but rather measure ourselves based on what God has given us.
Who do you compare yourself to? Is it someone here? Is it a real person? Or a fake version of yourself?
How do you feel when you compare yourself to others? It’s either pride, “I’m pretty far along compared to most people.” Or shame, “I feel like a failure.” Neither help.
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Jesus, warns us from pride. Why? It forgets grace, it’s poor thinking, and it measures incorrectly.
Okay so if that’s the wrong way to think…what’s the right way to think?
Paul gave us a command, now he gives us an illustration.
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Paul loves this image of the body of Christ. Why? It’s so clear.
Everyone has a body. Throughout all time and history, not everyone has driven mid size SUV’s like us, and not everyone gets my office references. But EVERYONE has a body. Every human ever has a body with many body parts.
Paul says…you know your body? Many parts, one body. Same with Jesus and the church. In what way?
Every individual part matters. But no individual part is too important. Except for the head, and that’s Jesus. All the parts need each other and help each other and must respect each other and have unity with each other. So don’t be prideful and think you’re more important than you are. The church is not all arms.
When you stub your toe, that hurts, right? When you stub your toe, your whole body feels it, even though your toe is just a tiny part. You don’t stub your toe and go, “Whatever, my arms still feel GREAT!”
In the same way, Paul says each person in the church belongs to one another. Paul said in 1 Cor 12:26
26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
When someone is alone at Gateway, that matters to all of us. When marriages suffer, that matters to all of us. We belong to one another.
When someone rejoices at Gateway, we all can rejoice. When someone’s faith is blossoming, that matters to all of us. We belong to one another.
Does that mean the individual doesn’t matter, what’re you promoting some weird communism thing? No, but maybe we are so drunk on individualism in 2022 that we fail to see Paul’s illustration and invitation to see ourselves truly as the body of Christ.
Paul says don’t be prideful, that’s just not thinking right. So he gives us an illustration that says think of yourself as a part of the body of Christ and value and esteem one another.
So that’s how we’re supposed to think, but what do we do?
Paul’s given us a command, an illustration, and now a call to action.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Paul says quite clearly: use your gifts! Because of Jesus, his grace towards us, the fact we’re part of the body of Christ, and the fact the Holy Spirit has given us each gifts…use them!
What are these gifts? Well, Paul lists 7 of them...
Prophecy - speaking for God, someone who has an understanding of God’s will.
Serving or ministry
Teaching - helping people understand doctrine
Exhortation - encouragement, a speaking ministry, some translations connect this with preaching
Generosity - giving. Do you have a steady job that pays a good wage and enjoy giving your money away?
Leadership - do you naturally care for people’s souls and want to guide the church towards Jesus?
And acts of mercy - do you love helping people who are in need?
There are more than just 7 spiritual gifts. There are many spiritual gifts tests you can take online to try and figure out what your gift is.
Recently I’ve enjoyed this book called StrengthsFinders, it’s not a Christian book but it helps you find what God has made you particularly good at. What do you enjoy? What are you good at? How can you use it to bless others?
Why does it matter if we use our gifts or not? It’s my gift, I can do with it what I want, right?
Paul doesn’t talk like that, nor does Jesus.
Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 25:14-30 about a man who entrusts his servants with his property when he goes on a journey. He gives each servant a different amount of money based on their ability. You’ve heard this story? After a long time, the servants come and give an account of what they did with the money the master gave them. The ones who use that gift wisely and make more money, they hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
However, one of the servants does nothing with the money, buries it underground. And he hears this:
26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I think Paul and Jesus want us to take this seriously. Because of Jesus…don’t be proud. Pride forgets grace, it’s poor thinking, and measuring incorrectly. Rather, humbly serve one another as Jesus did, and use your gifts to bless others.
Find rest in your role
Find rest in your role
Paul commands us to be humble and not be proud. Overall it kind of sounds like a no duh, the type of thing you’d expect to hear in church. And also, I think we should hear the grace Paul offers us to find rest in our limited roles in the body of Christ.
Is it any wonder our society is stricken with anxiety and depression when we’re told you can be ANYTHING you want to be, and the sky is the limit, and you have unlimited potential?
As a pastor in 2022, I’m not supposed to be just a shepherd, I’m supposed to be a world-class speaker, entrepreneur, social media influencer, counselor, CEO, and body builder.
It’s the same for all of us, right? Being a faithful husband, wife, parent, employee, friend, church member isn’t enough. You have to want more! You need to be up on politics, you need to be virologist, you need to be more. Why? Because you’re the most important person in the world, right?
Pride is a heavy weight. Having big arms looks cool for a minute but in the end backfires. Pride tricks us into thinking it’s for us, when it actually wants to kill us.
And Jesus comes along and says
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Don’t be arms guy. Bigger is not better. More is not more. Less is more.
What is your role? Find rest knowing that simply being faithful to what God has called you to do is powerful.
How are you using your gifts?
How are you using your gifts?
About 2/3 of the adults who regularly attend Gateway serve here on Sundays. Awesome. So there are some of you hear who read this passage and your conversation with Jesus is, “God how have you made me, and how can I serve?” If you consider Gateway your home, we’d love to have you come to a membership class, and one of the things we talk about is that serving on Sundays is not the only way we serve, but it is essential for growing in faith. Why? God calls us to humbly serve one another. How can you use your gifts? Maybe you don’t know what your gifts are. Try stuff out!
For the rest of us who serve regularly, how are you using your gifts? In what manner are you serving? Do you serve simply because you should? Do you serve simply because it’s expected of you? Or do you serve, as Paul says, with cheerfulness? With zeal? Do you serve in kids not just because it’s needed but because our kids need to hear, love, and obey Jesus?
How can we humbly serve one another with joy? Because of what Jesus has done...by lowering himself from the position of eternal glory with God in heaven to utter poverty and irrelevance in a backwoods town in the middle east…lowering himself from respected rabbi to convicted criminal murdered on a cross…lowering himself from the land of the living to the realm of the dead…all so that he could defeat death, pay for our sin, and rise on the third day and invite us into fellowship with him so we can be a part of his body.
How can we humbly serve one another? Because of what Jesus has done, and what he’s doing in you. You have the Holy Spirit. And as we battle day by day and humbly serve one another, God promises to work in us and bring us to full maturity on the day of Jesus’ return. And on that day may you hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”