For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith– Romans 12:3
We are still continuing the study in Romans 12 but have taken a brief detour into 2 Corinthians 10 to really grab hold of this idea of the “measure of faith.” We began looking yesterday at 2 Corinthians 10:12 –
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
We saw how Paul and his companions DARED NOT to associate or number themselves who through pride commend and praise themselves. We should make the same stand. Whatever good comes out of our ministry should cause to glory in the Lord. Many wrongly use the words, “it humbles me that God used me in such-and-such way.” Yes, we should have a humbled mindset when God uses us because it is ONLY by His grace we have role in His plan, but I suspect many of those who use that statement do so out of a false form of humility. It’s so easy for pride to creep into our lives. I’m sure we all battle pride in one form or another. But we need to make a stand right now and determine that we want all glory and honor to go directly to the Lord from the works which we perform.
Today we will look at the two rulers referred to in this verse. One ruler we will call the “Selfish” ruler – selfish in the sense of being mindful of one’s own self. The other ruler we introduced two days ago – the “Others” ruler.
The “Selfish” Ruler
Paul describes some in the religious crowd who were “measuring themselves by themselves.” It’s great feeling we get when we see our own personal improvements. For body builders, they are encouraged when they see muscle gain. For those trying to lose weight, they are encouraged when they see the scales drop. With religious activities, many of us are encouraged when we see we are doing more. Some of us until recently have not been making Bible reading a daily activity and now we have gotten into the habit of reading a chapter or two of the Bible each day. That’s improvement! But how will God judge your effort? Will He be pleased? Were you distracted when you read those two chapters? Were you texting and checking facebook while you were reading those chapters? Do you remember what you read in those chapters? We all have this “Selfish” ruler we tend to keep on us at all times. We want to see ourselves getting better by comparing our current self to our former self. I’m sure Paul looked back many times upon his former self and got overwhelmed at God’s grace and mercy in being allowed to have a part in God’s plan. But Paul was always “reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). Instead of measuring himself to himself, Paul measured himself by God’s ruler (Romans 7:24).
The “Others” Ruler
This ruler is defined by the words, “they . . . comparing themselves among themselves.” I know we looked at this two days ago, but it would be worth our time to visit this topic again. It can be a great stumblingblock to preachers and non-preachers alike when they go to a preaching conference or revival meeting, and they see a nationally-acclaimed, big-named evangelist gain even more recognition and accolades by all the works they have accomplished. A preacher of a small church just may leave the meeting discouraged with where he is at. “Did I do something wrong? What can I do for my ministry to excel like his? Am I just not as spiritually mature as he is?” Somebody who isn’t a preacher may leave the meeting asking these questions – “Why didn’t God call me to preach? Am I just not that important? That evangelist must have a lot more faith than I have.” These are all the wrong questions and statements! I believe many church-goers view their pastor as being on such a higher level that they could not hope to attain unto the same spiritual level as their pastor. When we think in this way, we are using the “Others” ruler. Use God’s “Faith” ruler mentioned in Romans 12:3. Where are you at on GOD’S ruler?
Another way we tend to use the “Others” ruler is by looking at how other people fail and so measure our own righteousness by the unrighteousness of others. This is a wrong way of thinking too. When a preacher points out a sin we struggle with and our first reaction is “well at least I don’t do what So-and-So does,” we have just pulled out and used the “Others” ruler from our other pocket. We can usually always find someone worse off than us. The question is, how will God judge us? He bought us, and now we belong to Him. How can we glorify Him better in our life. When we measure ourselves by God’s ruler, I believe we will find that we are not where we ought to be. Paul says in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Those who use the “Selfish” and “Others” rulers are said to be unwise. Let’s empty our pockets of the “Selfish” and “Others” rulers and take up His ruler!