V33For 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 divides into three parts. Verses 1-21Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship.2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. form the first part that speaks about your relation with God. The third part comprises verses 9-219[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.10[Be] devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God], for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.20“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good., discussing your relation with people around you. The current portion (verses 3-83For 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.4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, [each of us is to exercise them accordingly]: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.) is your relation with your fellow-believers. You must understand you’re not better than another; on the contrary, modesty and moderation are fitting.
God has imparted to everyone a certain amount of faith. This is exactly the amount of faith you need for the task He wants you to perform. God has done the same with your fellow-believer who also has received a task from God with the measure of faith needed for that task. Having received this from God, couldn’t you boast about it or tell it to the entire world? Even Paul didn’t do this, and he was an apostle. He addresses you and me by the grace [undeserved favor] given to him. This is how we should approach each other, realizing the grace that has been given to us.
V4-54For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.. He makes a comparison with the human body. A body has many members. All those members have different functions. With us, things work in a similar way, but in a spiritual sense. All believers together form one body in which every believer has his or her proper place and function. In 1 Corinthians 12 this is treated more extensively, where stress is placed on how all those members belong together. They can’t manage without one another. Here in Romans 12 we have your attitude with respect to others. You have your unique task that only you can properly fulfill.
Do you know your function? Difficult, isn’t it? There is a verse that says: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do [it] with [all] your might” (Ecc 9:1010Whatever your hand finds to do, do [it] with [all] your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.). In other words, look around you and you will see a lot of work.
V66Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, [each of us is to exercise them accordingly]: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;. In verses 6-86Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, [each of us is to exercise them accordingly]: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. a number of these functions, there called “gifts”, are mentioned. What it comes down to is your attitude. A practical way to demonstrate the transformation of your mind is to be helpful to someone else. What counts is what we are with respect to each other (verse 55so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.). We all have received a different gift of grace from God. God didn’t give it to us to neglect it, but to start working with it.
“Prophecy” is the first gift mentioned. In 1 Peter you read a good description of prophecy, which is ‘speaking the oracles of God’ (1Pet 4:1111Whoever speaks, [is to do so] as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves [is to do so] as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.). The more you learn about God, the better you can pass on God’s thoughts. Therefore, the next thing you read is “according to the proportion of his faith”. Passing on God’s thoughts can only be according to the measure of your personal communion with God, according to the measure in which you have learned to trust Him in your practical life of faith.
V77if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;. Maybe “service” suits you better. This is a more practical way of being occupied. Archippus, in Colossians 4, was such a person (Col 4:1717Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”). He had to be exhorted to fulfill the service he had received from the Lord. You and I may need a similar exhortation.
Maybe there’s a teacher hidden in you because your desire is to teach your fellow believers. In Ezra 7 you find an important order:
1. Ezra directed his heart to seek the law.
2. Then he acted according to it.
3. Then, only after doing the first two, he taught the Law in Israel (Ezra 7:1010For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice [it], and to teach [His] statutes and ordinances in Israel.).
V88or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.. Then there is exhortation. To exhort means to encourage or to comfort, but it may also mean to point out wrong things. This is not a popular activity, but a necessary one. Believers are always in danger of backsliding from the Word. Therefore, they must be warned. Deviations always have unpleasant consequences. The object of exhortation, therefore, is to bring believers who have gone astray, back to the Lord. In James 5 you can see the blessed result this can have (Jam 5:19-2019My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.).
There are brothers and sisters who have the gift of giving, that is to share with others what they have. To me, this gift of grace seems much more rewarding than the preceding one. But using this gift requires spiritual exercise. It must happen “with liberality”, wisely, and without ulterior motives.
Leading is a special gift too. Being diligent in this is necessary because leading is a matter of being a good example yourself and not of handing out assignments. Nehemiah of the Old Testament is a good example of a leader.
The last gift mentioned here is to show “mercy”. There are believers who, on seeing others in misery, are ready to help them. For them it is important that they fulfill their task “with cheerfulness”. However, this is not easy because help is not always appreciated.
Paul has not given an exhaustive list. What he has tried to make clear is that every believer, including you, has a gift and this gift must be used correctly. There will certainly be something that will keep you occupied. Ask the Lord to lead you in this matter and then get busy!
Now read Romans 12:3-8 again.
Reflection: Ask the Lord to help you in seeing and performing your task.