A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
The Christian Life as Exhibited in Transformation
A Life of Humility
The Christian life should be a life of humility.
Verse 3 introduces the general thought, "I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you." This is for all of you folks who are being confronted with this message, every man and woman. Man is a generic term and includes both. He insists that each believer is "Not to think of himself [or herself] more highly than he [or she] ought to think but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith."
A man should not aspire to be something that is not in the will of God for him, because God has made him what he is and has a particular place for him as a Christian. How often we find people who do have some real gift, but who are dissatisfied with the gift they have, a gift which may be lowly but worthy, not spectacular but useful; and so they are desiring to be something else other than what they are and what God has purposed.
There is a rule of measure. God has provided this for each man. You may question God's will in dealing with you in this way, but remember that His will is good, acceptable, and perfect. The measure of His dealing with you is according to your faith. You may depend upon it that if you are His child, He has given you just as great a gift, just as high a position as your faith could stand. It would be a terrible thing to be judged as if we were standing in other people's shoes. We could discharge that responsibility. He knows what we can stand. He knows the capacity of our faith, because He has given us our faith.
Paul moves on from that idea to the fourth verse: "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we, being many, are one body in Christ." There are many members in the body of Christ. Each one has its place. God, in His eternal sovereign foresight, has apportioned to you just the proper place for you. I have heard men say, "If I could only be like D. L. Moody." God knows you better than you know yourself, and it takes a man who is completely open to God to stand where Moody stood, and to give what Moody did. Men also say, "Look at the need of the world today. What does not God give me a fortune?" Well, He knows whether you could stand a million dollars, whether it would be good for you.
So, be satisfied with the place God has given you. That would be true humility. To deprecate yourself is false humility. But use that place God has given you - occupy it.
Paul passes on from the idea of membership in the church to the actual gift given each member. Are all the gifts the same? No, they are different. How do they differ? "According to the grace that is given us." And then he names seven gifts. Prophecy, ministry, teaching, and exhortation are the four major gifts. Then follow three minor gifts: giving, ruling, showing mercy. That is a beautiful seven-fold presentation of the gifts of the Spirit. There are other catalogues in the Bible that are more specific, but these are inclusive.
That gift was given to the men who wrote God's Word. We do not have that gift today. They spoke for God directly, and when they did, they prophesied "according to the measure of faith"; they spoke in harmony with what had been spoken already. men who come today and prophesy not according to this Word are not prophets - according to the marked out proportion that God has already given. Even when the men wrote the New Testament, they remained in accord with what had already been written.
This is that great, broad ministry within the church that ought to be performed by the deacons. In fact, that is the word used: "Let us give ourselves to deaconing." The office of deacon is a very broad office and may cover almost any kind of service in the church. They are really the closest assistants to the pastor, to help him in every duty and to help the church. It should be a place of service, not a position of power.
Teaching is a gift always. The teacher is a gift; let him give attention to his teaching. Teaching is the art of making the unchanging divine message understandable to the unlearned.
Exhortation is sometimes "run into the ground," but it is necessary for those who have been given this gift to exercise it. Prayer meeting is a good place for it. Exhort those Christians that are growing weak. Strengthen them, encourage them.
"He that giveth" refers to a gift that is seldom regarded as one. Every one of us has that gift to a certain extent. This exhortation is for those who have some degree of material wealth. God has granted to some laymen in the church the ability to acquire and dispense wealth. He has prospered such men in order that they might use their money for God.
"He that ruleth" applies to those in the place of authority. The church is not, in the absolute sense, a democracy. We read in other places in the New Testament of the elders who rule. They are to rule under God, of course. They are the shepherds. But there is a gift for those who are elders. The boards of the church come in at this point, men who have the ability to exercise oversight. "Let them give diligence."
"He that showeth mercy" undoubtedly has wide application. This may be in relation to the poor, taking care of them. The church has always had a ministry there. Down through the ages it has been the church that has led the way. Men never started a hospital until the church started one. Men generally did not show mercy to the sick. Within the church there are folks who go about their business in an unspectacular way, and yet they have a wonderful ministry visiting the poor and the aged. If God has called you to this, you ought to be using that gift and not be trying to exercise the more spectacular gift of teaching.
When God has called a man and given him a certain gift, he is not to do something other than that for which God has called him.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 76 - "A Life of Love")