I am a fairly humble fellow. I do not stand out in a crowd. I do not try to draw attention to myself. In fact I don’t like attention. I don’t consider myself arrogant and I am very aware of my flaws. And yet, there are still times when I allow myself to feel superior to others. Maybe we all do that at times?
No matter how many flaws we have, all of us are better at something than someone else. And in those moments where we take notice of that, it is easy to allow our egos to puff up a bit, isn’t it? Maybe that is even especially true for those, like me, that are more keenly aware of our shortcomings than our triumphs.
Paul touches on humility several times in chapter 12, and typically when I read these passages, I instantly think about people that are very arrogant, and think, “this doesn’t really apply to me,” or “I’m doing fine in this area.” But then (sometimes) I think about the thoughts that I opened with.
Beginning in verse 3, Paul says, “For by the grace given 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 faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
There you have it. Each of us should NOT think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Well then how highly SHOULD we think of ourselves? Frankly, I would say pretty high, because we are each pretty incredible creations of God. And we have each been blessed with many abilities and talents. But as Paul points out, we have all been given DIFFERENT abilities. And it is key to remember that we have been given those abilities. We didn’t do anything ourselves to acquire natural abilities. Some people are born with great musical talent. Others with sharp intellect. Still others with amazing athletic skill. Paul here is speaking primarily of spiritual gifts, but all abilities and talents are indeed granted by our Creator. I really appreciate when I see gifted athletes giving credit to God for their abilities during post-game interviews. I am not always sure how sincere they are, but the message is true regardless.
In verse 10, Paul says to Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one other above yourselves. This is an outward extension of humility, and here, should be motivated by love. How often do you honor others above yourself?
Finally, Paul comes back to humility again in verse 16.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
We should not just be showing humility to the people we are comfortable being with, or the people that are “our kind of crowd.” We should be showing humility to, and honoring above us those whom we would consider to be of low position.
Again, this is the example Jesus left for us, and it is a humility that is motivated by love, which Paul sums up perfectly in verses 9-21.
So, think of yourselves very highly, as an amazing creation, but do not think of yourself more highly than someone else. That is when you are thinking of yourself more highly than you ought. It’s about recognizing that God has given each of us different gifts, to be used to His glory.
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Romans 11-13.
Tomorrow we will finish the book of Romans (chapters 14-16).