Last time, we looked at Romans 12:3 from the perspective that being rightly related to God requires that we have a correct view of ourselves. We must think soberly, with sound judgment, refusing to fall into error in either direction. We must not think too lowly or too highly of ourselves. Neither pleases or honors God. The verses that follow show us the necessity of this correct view of ourselves. This realistic assessment of ourselves is necessary because a Christian does not exist all by himself, or for himself. The Christian exists in a community of believers. The Christian is called out of the world to live in right relationship to every other Christian.
Romans 12:3-8 states, “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. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. NASU
Here God uses the illustration of the body to describe His Church. God uses that illustration so often we have come to call the Church, the Body of Christ.
The vine and branches illustrates perfectly the uniformity of believers and their perfect union with Christ. Here in Romans 12, God uses the body as the illustration to show harmonious union in spite of the great differences in size, shape, function, etc. among Christians. The fact that we do not exist alone unto ourselves, but rather in community, necessitates the command in verse three that we see ourselves realistically. The Christian must not see himself as an end, as an independent being, an isolated entity. The Christian must recognize that He is part of a living organism. He belongs to a body and must function in that body.
Each member of my body must perform its designated function at the right time and in harmony with every other member of my body. If my stomach wanted to eat, but my mouth wanted to talk, and my arm wanted throw, and my feet wanted to run, there would be chaos. Worse still, if my heart decided it wanted to breathe and my lungs wanted to filter my blood and my kidneys wanted to pump my blood, that would be anarchy. If every member of my body wanted to eat but could not agree on the timing, things would still not be good.
Verse six states, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.” NASU Because every Christian is a member of Christ’s Body, he must exercise his God given gift accordingly. This is not a suggestion. It is written as a command and has several components. The gift is given to us by God. We did not acquire it on our own. We must not try to exercise someone else’s gift or take someone else’s position. God has given us a gift to carry out a specific function to meet a specific need. We must not shirk our duties or responsibilities. Without every member of the Body seeing itself realistically and performing the duty for which it was gifted, there will be chaos or anarchy in the Body. God wants His Body to live and serve in harmony, exercising its gifts in accordance with the purposes for which they were given.
Ellison is interim pastor at First Baptist of Horatio, Ark. Contact Pastor Ellison at firstname.lastname@example.org