Romans 12:3. 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.
What do you think of yourself?
Next question: how does your union with Christ affect how you think of yourself?
In Romans 12:1-2 Paul just admonished us to live from the renewed mind. To think correctly. Here in verse 3, he uses the word think (Greek word phroneo) four times (think, think, think, and judgment). After starting with how we relate to God (12:1-2), and before addressing how to relate to others, he now moves to how we relate to ourselves. Why address how we think about ourselves? Because what you think of yourself is what you will become. And how you think about yourself will change how you think about others.
So how do we think wrongly about ourselves? There’s two extremes we need to watch out for:
First think of himself more highly than he ought to think – Superiority. The inflated ego. Pride. “I don’t need help.” “I can live this Christian life alone.”
Our society wants us to think that a low self-image is by far our greatest problem. But actually many of us reading this (me included) think too highly of ourselves. Even when we are focused on all of our problems, the underlying thought is that we don’t deserve these problems because we’re not really all that bad. But you are bad enough to need a crucifixion – Jesus’ and your own – right?
Second to think with sober judgment – Inferiority. This one’s a bit harder to see, but Paul is saying “view yourself sensibly or correctly.” Stop thinking, “I have nothing to offer the Body of Christ.” “I’m not smart, talented, gifted, trained, (insert your excuse here)”
Superiority or inferiority? Either way it’s a broken heart.
What is the remedy for both of these extremes of bad thinking? What cures us of our superiority and our inferiority? What is our objective standard for measuring ourselves? Our union with Christ.
The measure of faith that Paul speaks of is most likely a reference to Christ himself or our saving faith in Christ. We must learn to measure our thinking against our thinking when we got saved.
Feeling superior? What did you do to save yourself? What did you bring to your salvation? Nothing? So this measure of faith kills superiority.
Feeling inferior? Did God save you? What did God do to save you? Everything? So this measure of faith kills inferiority.
Why is all this so important? Because union with Christ is union with the Body of Christ. We are saved into a community, a family. What this means is that we cannot do the Christian life alone. We need each other. The temptation is that we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, or we fail to think with sober judgment, and then we reject help, we reject community, we reject the Body, the church.
“To live is Christ” means superiority and inferiority can be eliminated from our thinking by the gospel of grace and our union with Christ. Christ HAD to save you, and he DID save you. You are nothing and everything. You are sinner and saint. You are wicked and loved. Once you embrace this form of mind renewal, now you’re ready to start living humbly in self-forgetfulness. Now you’re ready to start loving others.