Romans 12:3-8


In our last chapter, I suggested that Romans 12:1-2 forms a bridge between all of the doctrines which Paul has taught in the first eleven chapters of Romans over against all of the instructions for living that are found in the remaining chapters.


Doctrines to be Believed taught in Romans 1-11


Instructions on How to Live found in Romans 12-16

Romans 12:1-2



Within that bridge was a call to present your BODIES as a living and holy sacrifice.  In the following verses, Paul goes on to show how our individual BODIES





            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).

There is a play one words as Paul warns his readers not to “overthink         beyond what they ought to “think.”


In verse 2 Paul calls for a transformation by the renewing of your MIND.  Now in verse 3 he tells you how you ought to THINK about yourself.


Self-esteem is a byword of today’s culture.  The popular folk religion says that we need to think more highly of ourselves.  We live in the “Me Generation.”  Just look at the titles of our magazines.


• Life

• People

• Us

• Self


But Paul doesn’t caution us about having too low of a self-esteem.  He warns of having an inflated ego.  He warns about thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to think.  The truth is that people with low self esteem are still focused upon themselves and their low self esteem.


Who is the most important person in your church?  It is a trick question.  As soon as you think of a name, then it is wrong.


What is the most important part of my body?  If you are going to cut off something, then I’m going to tell you that ALL of the members of my body are important.  When one part of my body hurts, the whole body hurts.


Notice to whom it is that Paul addresses himself.  He speaks say to everyone among you.  His lessons for self-esteem are for ALL members of the church - everyone from the pastor to the pew-warmer.


The Command Negatively Stated

The Command Positively Stated

Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought

Think so as to have sound judgment

A conceited opinion of yourself

A realistic opinion of yourself


How does one go about obtaining such a sound judgment?  How do you get a right opinion of yourself?  Paul gives the answer.  It is by realizing that God has allotted to each a measure of faith.  It is by recognizing that everything you have is given to you by God - even your faith.


This is contrary to most of popular American thinking.  All too many Christians feel that their faith is something that THEY have determined.  They believe because THEY have made an intelligent choice.  But the Scriptures teach that it is GOD who gives faith.





            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. (Romans 12:4-5).


The human body is made up of a number of different members.  There are hands and feet and arms and legs and eyes and ears and the list goes on and on.


These differing members each have differing functions.  The eyes and the ears are not interchangeable.  When you try to do the right thing with the wrong member it just doesn’t work.  My ears can’t see very well.  My eyes are completely deaf.  My feet cannot catch a ball or play a guitar or type on a computer keyboard.  My hands are woefully lacking as a means of locomotion.  My body only operates efficiently when each member is doing that for which it was designed.


The body of Christ is like that.  We get into trouble when we treat all Christians the same. When we try to manufacture disciples in a cookie-cutter type of mold, we find that it does not work that way.                       


The point that Paul is making is that, even though we are different, we are still ONE body.  We are connected in an organic unity.  We are members of one another.  When one part of the body works properly the entire body profits.  When one part of the body hurts, the entire body says, “Ouch!”


We live in an age of independence.  The idea of being dependent upon anyone for anything is viewed as a negative.  We talk about being delivered from “co‑dependency.”


But Christianity involves inter‑dependency.  In the same way that a body is dependent upon the proper functioning of all of its members, so the various members of the body of Christ depend upon one another for their spiritual well-being.  This is vividly illustrated in the function of spiritual gifts.





            Since 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; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8).


While in verses 4-5 we have a focus upon the fact of the “oneness” that we share despite our differences, here the focus shifts to the differences which we enjoy in the midst of our unity.


Romans 12:4-5

Romans 12:6-8

Emphasis upon our UNITY.

Emphasis upon our DIVERSITY.

One body made up of many members.

Differing gifts to be exercised accordingly


There are seven gifts mentioned here.  More could have been mentioned, but these seven are given as representative.  They do not seem to be given in any specific order.



How it is to be Used


According to the proportion of his faith




In his serving

In his teaching

In his exhortation



Showing Mercy

With liberality

With diligence

With cheerfulness


These gifts are given without any corresponding definition.  Nearly every commentary on the market goes through and carefully defines each one of these gifts.  But that is not the point.  Paul could easily have made his point with other gifts.  The point is that we are all different and that we all have different gifts and that we are to excel in the use of each of them for the benefit of the entire body.


Some of these gifts are manifested in the realm of SPEAKING.  Others are evidenced in their SERVICE.  But Paul does not hold up one over the other.  He refuses to play “King of the Gifts.”  They are ALL gifts from God and equally a part of the body of Christ.


1.         The Representative Nature of this List of Gifts.


If you look at the list of gifts presented in this passage and compare it with the listing of spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12, you will find some differences.  There are gifts mentioned here which are absent from that passage and there are gifts mentioned there which are not found here.  Neither list is complete.  That tells me something about all such listings of gifts as they are found in the Bible.  None of the Biblical listings of gifts are not meant to be an exhaustive list.  They are all mere samplings of the many diverse spiritual gifts.


2.         The Sovereign Nature of the Gifts.


These spiritual gifts are not a shopping list from which we make a choice and then seek to gain that gift.  It is GOD who determines which gifts have been given.  He gives to us not only the gift, but also the faith by which they are to be exercised.


When we belittle the gift we have been given, we quibble and question the sovereign will of God which determined the gift given to us, along with the place of ministry in which He has placed us.


3.         The Gracious Nature of the Gifts.


They are GIFTS.  You do not earn a gift.  It is not something for which you work in order to obtain it.  It is freely given to you by God.  It comes by GRACE.  Indeed, the words for “gift” and “grace” are related in the Greek language, coming from the same root.


This means that you ought never to become proud or arrogant over any gift that you might have.  It is not a reflection of how spiritual you are.  It is a reflection of the grace of God.


4.         The Exhortation to Persevere in the Use of the Gifts.


Paul calls us to be diligent in utilizing the various gifts which God has given to the church.  And this brings us to a problem.  Why would the teacher need to be exhorted to teach and the server to serve?  Is this not their natural tendency?  Not necessarily.  Our natural tendency is to be self‑centered and self‑serving.  But this is not how we are to use the gifts.  Our service to God is to be self‑sacrificing.  This does not equate to success in the eyes of the world.


When our service does not appear to be successful and when our ministry is not self‑serving, our tendency is to resign.  Like Jonah, we wait for the flash and the fire and, when it doesn’t come, we pack up our gourd and we quit.  And so, Paul exhorts us to persevere — to keep on and to stick with that which God has given us to do.


The gifts are not given to us in order that we might focus upon the gifts.  They are given to us so that we might focus upon the Giver of the gifts.  They are given that we might focus upon Christ.


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