Why not now? Use your gifts! Rom 12:3-8



As we are working our way through this 12th chapter of Romans, we have covered the first two verses.
Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God because of the great mercy He has shown us.
That we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds rather than conformed and molded by the world.
This is the individual part of being a Christian.
The mindset we need to have.
Paul goes on now to talk about how we, as Christians function together.
No man is an Island unto himself.
God has created us to be relational beings.
To be in relationship with each other, and more importantly to have a relationship with Him.
In our passage today, we see Paul describing gifts that God gives us to use in our relationships with one another.
These are not physical items to use, but spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts are abilities given to individual believers by the Holy Spirit.
When we think of gifts though, our minds often go to Christmas or birthday parties.
Some families open gifts one at a time on Christmas, others the kids just go for it.
Paper flying everywhere.
No matter how they are opened, gifts are set aside as they are opened.
As the mess is cleaned up, children begin playing with their newly acquired treasures.
But if you watch, some of the gifts don’t get used as much as others.
Some hardly at all.
Obvious that they are either not particularly wanted or appreciated.
No matter how much time you as the gift giver put in to selecting the gift, there is no knowing exactly the response.
I wonder if God doesn't feel that way when he watches us with the gifts he gives.
He has given us wonderful gifts, and some of us have ripped the paper off, looked at the gifts,
laid them over in the corner, and we haven't touched them since.
Others of us have not even opened the present to discover what the gift is.
Spiritual gifts are discovered as we serve one another in the body/family of Christ.
There are some interesting spiritual gifts test out there that can be somewhat helpful in helping us to better understand our gifts.
But much like a personality test, they simply regurgitate what we know about ourselves in a different way.
Again this can be helpful to help us understand.
Paul was concerned about the Christians in Rome not using the gifts that God had given them.
He's just encouraged us to present ourselves totally to God--every part of our being,
and that would include these gifts He has given us.
When we yield ourselves to Him, the gifts are to become instruments in His hands to do His will, to serve Him.
The first 11 chapters of Romans help us to see who are are and what we have in Christ.
The shift now is to that of service.
To love God, serve God, and serve one another in the body of Christ.
Beginning with our Spiritual gifts.
God has gifted you, I guarantee it.
You may need to refine your gift.
You may need to grow your gift.
Maybe you aren’t really sure what your gift or gifts may be?
Maybe you are already using your gift.
But if not?
Why not now?
Why not begin using the gift God has given you to bring Him glory and serve one another.
Romans 12:3–8 ESV
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. 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. 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.

Be humble.

Verse three begins with Paul in a posture that we find him in quite frequently.

For by the grace given to me

Paul had every right to be proud.
Paul had every right to think highly of himself.
Jesus had interacted with him directly.
Jesus had given him this commission to go the the gentiles.
Yet he remained humble, and knew who sent him, and why he was doing what he was doing.
Ephesians 3:7–8 ESV
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
It is interesting that Paul begins a section teaching about spiritual gifts with a warning.
A warning specifically about pride.
For centuries the Christian church has listed pride as one of the seven deadly sins,
which also include wrath, greed, sloth, lust, envy, and gluttony.
Now of course all sins are deadly.
These 7 are not more deadly than others, just more public.
Paul’s warning is a continuation of what he was just talking about in verse two, being transformed, not conformed by the world.

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think

This is precisely the opposite to what the world around us often tells us to do.
We are told we need take pride in ourselves.
We are told we need to have a high level of self esteem to be successful.
How many books do you think will show up if you go and search for self esteem books on amazon?
There are over 50,000 search results for books on self esteem.
But what is this self esteem that our culture, which remember, Paul has also told us to not be molded by in the previous verse.
Paul spells out what this means through verse 3.
This English translation we cannot miss the fact that verse 3 repeats twice the idea of thinking.
There is a wrong kind of thinking that we are to reject (thinking too highly of ourselves)
and a right kind of thinking that we are to embrace (thinking soberly).

To esteem oneself is the ability to properly evaluate and accurately present oneself which involves a realistic assessment of personal strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative qualities, and true potentials and limitations.

Self esteem in our culture though has become more than a call to realistic assessment of oneself.
There is a big difference between the self esteem movement and having some confidence in yourself.
Self-esteem is a call to admire yourself.
To be prideful of yourself.
To idolize yourself.
It is one of the most damaging concepts that is spread in our culture.

The term self-esteem is broadly used and perhaps, like an umbrella, covers many similar yet not identical terms like: self-identity, self-perception, self-value, self-description, self-evaluation, self-acceptance, self-presentation, self-definition, self-confidence, self-affirmation

Notice what is at the front of each of these words -
What did Paul say in Ephesians again?
though I am the very least of all the saints
There are many other examples as well.
The Bible is so clear when it comes to Self -
Luke 14:11 ESV
11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
James 4:6 ESV
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
When the disciples are arguing over who was the greatest he brings a child.
Matthew 18:4 ESV
4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Ezekiel 21:26 (ESV)
26 thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban and take off the crown. Things shall not remain as they are. Exalt that which is low, and bring low that which is exalted.
Isaiah 40:4 ESV
4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
This message is all over the Bible.
It is basic to the ways of God.
The irony is, pride humiliates us, and humility honors us.
When we see a person who is full of himself and drawing attention to himself, what do we feel inside?
Don’t we want to cut him down to size, at least a little?
And when we see someone else who is humble and lifting others up and doing a great job without expecting any thanks and so forth, don’t we want to see him get some credit?
Paul is giving this warning to the believers in Rome and us as readers today.
Do not esteem yourself.
One of the deceptions of self-esteem is to spend more time thinking about yourself when thoughts of yourself already consume you.
You cannot love God and others more than yourself when you’re trying to elevate your self-admiration, which is accomplished by ungodly de-admiration of others.
You cannot use the gifts rightly in service of others if you are focused solely upon yourself.
So as Paul is writing here in verse 3

I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think

Rather than esteeming ourselves, what ought we do?
We can summarize Paul’s instructions from verse 3, even at the risk of maybe being too simple, in just two words: be humble.
Author Stuart Scott says,
When someone is humble they are focused on God and others, not self. Even their focus on others is out of a desire to love and glorify God….
A humble person’s goal is to elevate God and encourage others.
In short, they “no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Another helpful definition, from C. J. Mahaney (Humility: True Greatness [Multnomah], p. 22, italics his):
“Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.”
“Without an honest awareness of both these realities … all self-evaluation will be skewed and we’ll fail to either understand or practice true humility.”
True humility means seeing God as the giver and sustainer of everything
and seeing ourselves as sinful and needy in His presence,
so that we trust totally in Him and not in ourselves,
so that He gets all the glory.
God gets all the glory, because it is God that gives the gifts.
Read verse 3 now all the way through.
Romans 12:3 ESV
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.
We are to think with sober judgment.
We don’t think about the fact that God provides us with gifts for a purpose.
When Paul says to think with sober judgement.

to be able to think in a sound or sane manner

to be prudent, with focus on self-control, be reasonable, sensible, serious, keep one’s head

Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves

Most often, we do not evaluate what God has given us to do
and then get on with doing it in faith
knowing that we will have to give an account someday to God.
As a pastor, I know that I will give an account someday for how I use my gifts.
But has it occured to you that yo will also give an account for the ministry that God has given you to do.
Then we are to think according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
This is not faith to salvation.
This verse is not referring at all to salvation.
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Faith for salvation is a gift from God yes.

The second phrase Paul uses for thinking rightly about ourselves

This is a little bit more than simply seeing ourselves as made in the image of God,
given the Holy Spirit of God, and having part in the overall plan of God.
It involves what each one of us is uniquely—
that is, as different from other people—
and it leads to the discussion of spiritual gifts that follows in this chapter.
In verse 4, Paul says that we all have different functions in the body.
In verse 6, he says that “we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,” and that we are to exercise these gifts “according to the proportion of [our] faith.”
In verse 3 here Paul is talking about varying amounts of faith that God has given to different believers for the exercise of various spiritual gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul says,
1 Corinthians 12:4–6 ESV
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
The point is, no matter the gift, whether we are using it on a national, or even international scale, or right here in Drummond Mt.
Everything you are and have comes from God, according to His sovereign purpose.
1 Corinthians 12:11 ESV
11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
As Christians, we often don’t think about this.
Most often we go about our days, giving little to no thought as to the gifts God has given us.
These verses are one another verses.
As we walk into verses 4 and 5 we are reminded that we do not exist as solo Christians.
To be a follower of Jesus is to be connected to a community of other followers of Jesus,
where each has a responsibility to use their gifts, talents, and abilities to help all the others.
In short, you need everyone else in the church, and everyone else in the church needs you.
We are not healthy and whole until we realize how much we are needed and how much we rely on others to help us follow Jesus well.
So part of a genuine humility has to do with understanding the spiritual gifts God has given us,
taking this seriously, and beginning to use those gifts for God.
This is exactly where the remainder of this paragraph is going
Each of us is responsible for discovering what our particular gifts are and using them.
It is a false humility that says, “I don’t have anything to offer to anyone. God can’t use me.”
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