For as long as I can remember I have had Romans 12:1-2 memorized. I can’t even begin to count the messages I have heard on this passage. That is why it was such a shock to me to the other day when reading this passage (probably for the hundredth time) verse three just seemed to jump out from this passage. Allow me to quote it here: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NASB) This got me looking at this passage anew with a completely different perspective, almost as if I had never seen this passage before.
Let me take you through my current thought process on this passage. (Now don’t go expecting some great exposition a la John MacArthur, or Sam Horn.) Verse one is pretty plain, present yourself to God a living sacrifice. Sacrifices have no will or choice they are offered and that is that. The ram never got off the altar when Abraham sacrificed it in Isaac’s place. Offer yourself to God and He will take you up on it, from then on you are His. Paul says this is what is expected of us.
Verse two is not that overly complicated either. My favorite illustration is that of a home renovation project. The first thing you do is gut the place. Out with the old and in with the new. But why? Because our old mind was made to think like the world. It needs to change. But this is not just for the sake of change, it has a purpose. It is so that we can seek, know, understand, and make decisions based on the Word and will of God. According to Paul this will is good and perfect and acceptable. That is where it starts, a new mind for a new kind of thinking. But how?
Enter verse three. Don’t think more of yourself than you are. This again shows that the mind of a Christian is to be different from that of the world. The world says you need more self-esteem, God says esteem your neighbor as better than you. But Paul does not stop there. He says think to have sound judgment. By the way this command is given to us ALL. There is no believer who is exempt from thinking biblically. And the key word is thinking. (Everything the believer does should be biblical.) Now if you have ever thought on any matter for any length of time you may realize that there are so many variables to any question that they cannot possibly all be considered. So how do we do this?
I believe that Paul tells us this also. We do this through faith. By the way God would not ask something of every believer if He were not also willing and able to give to every believer the means to do this. Now I know you probably noticed that the verse says that God has allotted to each a measure of faith, not an equal measure of faith. I know that some seem gifted with the ability to think us mere mortals into the ground, and yet for some of us it is all we can do to choose between chocolate and vanilla. Thinking is never said to be easy it is simply commanded. By the way here is where I would love to go on an excursus on James 1:5-7. I won’t do that but I will point out this. Wisdom (which could be argued to be the ability to think biblically) is given to those who ask and believe; in other words according to the measure of faith. (BTW check out James 3:13-18. This is what biblical thinking looks like.)
The point I am trying to make is that God’s people should be thinkers. I know that thinking is hard work. (I often end up choosing the swirl; it’s easier than deciding between the two.) Why? Because if we do not think about the Word and will of God we will fall into error and tarnish the image of Christ before the world. Paul gives the believers in Rome a challenging command, which passes to us by the authority of Scripture; “Think Biblically!” I know for some of you this is old news, for others this may be brand new. Old or new, young or aged, big or small, do yourself a favor; think about it will you?