Romans 12:2 “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
What sin do you suppose is the most tempting for faithful, Bible-believing Christians? You may have several candidates in mind, but consider this: We still hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. We oppose abortion and reject the many perversions of the “sexual revolution” (perhaps better described as the “sexual rebellion”). While some have raised concerns about high divorce rates among Christians exceeding those of atheist couples, active Christians who attend church weekly and have an active prayer life actually enjoy one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. We are actively evangelistic and mission-minded.
Do you see where this is headed? One of the most insidious temptations for serious, devout Christians is pride. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought. That’s Paul’s warning. And the apostle isn’t saying this so much as a warning against institutional pride as he is concerned about individual pride.
God may have his way with our lives for a while, and we notice that our lives are more in step with the ten commandments. The Lord has blessed us with special gifts and talents, and we see successes when we use them to serve him. When Satan hasn’t been able to lead us into gross immorality, he turns around and uses our own morality against us. It doesn’t take much before we are tempted to see ourselves as superior to others. We begin to think and act as though we were the source of our own abilities. Pride replaces love. If we secretly worship ourselves this way, we are in no position to serve and worship our Lord.
I don’t mean to deny that God has created us with real gifts and abilities for serving him. It is proper, even godly, that those gifts and abilities be recognized. We still trust that God will work good things through us as we live our Christian lives. Paul simply wants us to stay sober. “…think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Then our service can be directed toward him and not ourselves.
You see, as God’s people we can brutally honest with ourselves. We can frankly acknowledge that our sins are great (even my sins, Christian person though I am), because I know that my Savior is greater than my sins and forgives them all. We can find joy in knowing that our gifts and abilities, our love and our service, are God’s gifts to us. My Lord has stooped to do his work in and through me. We can give him all the glory and still be secure because he loves us. And when God gets the glory, then our service is truly worthwhile and accomplishes the purposes for which he made us his own in the first place.
Sober judgment won’t adopt an inflated view of ourselves. But it still rejoices in the truth that we are the Lord’s, and he gave up his own Son to make it so. This is the faith he has given us, and it makes it possible not only to know him, but to know ourselves as well.