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.
As a child, I loved to read, relishing the comfort of cuddling up with a blanket and a book. To this day I love the smell of old books and walking through libraries or bookstores. My family can attest to my bookworm tendencies because they have to live with my wacky assortment of stacks and piles. So when someone gave me the gift of a Bible, it was completely natural for me to dive in and read. Little did I know this book would change everything.
God used His Book to lovingly open my heart and mind to many issues in my life, including my need for a savior. I really had no idea what a mess I was inside. It took many years for me to get a good understanding of my broken spiritual condition. Thankfully, God put a few godly, loving people in my path to help me along the way.
I have witnessed The Body of Christ in action, using different spiritual gifts as they ministered to those hurting people around them. I am thankful for men and women of God who exert themselves to teach, encourage, and serve others. God has methodically worked in my life to bring me to a place where He can use me to minister to others. Sometimes I cannot believe that He could actually use me for anything, yet He does.
I think one of the biggest struggles in my walk as a Christian is to put all of my book learning into practice in a winsome manner. It is easy to study biblical principles and to gain all kinds of head knowledge. Putting the words into action in a loving manner is just plain hard. My personality tends to be a "just do it" type, and this really isn't helpful when people are hurting and struggling. It's great for fixing washing machines and garage doors, but not so much when it comes to people.
The Scriptures tell us in Romans 12:3 not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, but it is so easy—so human—to let pride sneak in. I’m not talking about an overt "in your face" pride, but the more subtle pride that emerges when people don’t understand what you are trying to tell them, or when a brother and sister will not do something the way you think they should. We get frustrated, grumpy, or condescending, sometimes withdrawing from community just because we do not see the result we want or because we do not feel respected or loved. But the Apostle Paul cautions:
- "We know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' This 'knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up." (1 Corinthians 1:8)
- "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1)
- "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you" (1 Peter 5:6)
- "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
These verses have given me a healthy fear of myself, knowing that pride in its various forms lurks in my flesh and is always looking for an opportunity to take over. I thank God that He loves us so much that He gave us His Holy Spirit to correct and instruct us. Jesus told his disciples and all believers after them, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26
We can learn to serve in humility but it will only happen when we acknowledge our sin of pride and submit to the Holy Spirit and to God’s work in our lives.
Father, we are thankful that you have loved us so much. We are grateful for the Holy Spirit who ministers to us in such specific and loving ways. Thank you for imparting gifts to each of us.
We ask for forgiveness for when we have not loved well and have pridefully misused our gifts. Also, we ask for forgiveness for when we have failed to pursue understanding about how to use the gifts that You have given us. Please give us the desire to pray and learn, and to love You and others well.
In Jesus’s Name,