Jump Start # 1950
Romans 12:3 “ For through the grace given to me I say to every man 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.”
Our verse today shows three different layers of lessons. First, a person should not think more highly of himself than he ought to. Second, think so as to have sound judgment. Third, God allotted a measure of faith. Many thoughts come from these three statements. Some of them are built upon later in the passage when the Romans are instructed, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” “be of the same mind toward one another,” and, “do not be wise in your own estimation.” Those all spring from the proper thinking of self and others.
This seemed to be a problem then and it’s a problem today. We think too much of self and too little of others. It’s the “ought to” part that seems to trip many of us We are not to think more highly of self than we ought to. Just what is the “ought to?” That sounds like a balance, like an old teeter-totter. Too much thinking of self and we are sailing high in the air. Think too little and we crash on the ground. Folks often are just that way, too much or too little. The too much part is pride. We see that. People are in love with self. They love to talk about themselves. Pride gets in the way of learning, serving and becoming. But the too little part leads to feeling defeated, worthless and low self-esteem. Neither is Biblical, healthy nor accurate.
The proud person won’t apologize, forgive or seek help. He knows it all, he thinks. His pride will be his downfall. Sooner or later it will catch up with him and he will get in trouble. But the person who thinks too little of self also has problems. He doesn’t feel that God loves him, that he is needed in the kingdom nor that he can add any value to the work in the kingdom. He will sit on the sidelines of life, stuck in his pity party, singing, “woe is me.” This person fails to see that God values him. Jesus was sent to save His soul. God wants him in Heaven and God knows and believes that he can be productive in the kingdom.
Not to think more highly of himself than he ought to. How do we get that “ought to” part right? It’s a balance. It’s a struggle. It’s something we have to work on.
Here are some things to consider:
- Do I find myself always talking about myself to others? Listen to what you are saying. Do you listen or do you have to top every story, tell others all your surgeries, and be the star of every situation. Some have to be the corpse at every funeral and the bride at every wedding. That’s a pride issue. Catch it and stop it. Listen to others without having to tell your story. Offer comfort without having to bring yourself into every situation. Can you do that?
- Do you find that you talk yourself out of invitations because you don’t think people like you? You’re invited to someone’s house, but you quickly turn down the invitation with an excuse. You know the excuse is just that, a way of not going. You don’t want to go because you feel that the people have to ask you or that they feel sorry for you. You don’t know what to talk about if you go. You don’t think you’ll have a good time. So you stay home. You always stay home. You don’t realize that people do like you and want to be around you. This is a self-esteem issue. This trickles into the church. You turn down opportunities to serve, lead, teach—because you have assigned the tag, “I’m not very good,” to yourself.
Let me share a secret with you. Just about every preacher I know cannot stand to listen to himself on CD, or even worse, watch a video of themselves. I’m that way. I see myself on video and think, “Oh, no. That poor audience.” Most of us, if we had to do that very long, would put a sack on our heads and quit. But we realize people are asking us to come and preach. People are asking us to preform their weddings. They want us to teach classes. That “ought to” part makes us realize that we must be doing something right and helpful.
So, the “ought to” part is a matter of perspective. Do not think that the kingdom or even the congregation you attend will collapse if you are no longer there. That’s not true. The church is greater than you. It will survive. But also, God made us to be contributing parts in the kingdom. We all add value. There is something that we all can do.
The five, two and one talent parable helps us. Never did the master compare one with the others. We do. This is how the “ought to” part falls to pieces. The five talent person begins to believe that he is better than the other two. Be careful there. The master didn’t give all the talent to one person. The others were to do what they could. But the one talent man looks to the others and he starts thinking about all the things he can’t do. “I can’t lead singing, like the others.” “I can’t preach like the others.” Before long, he believes that he can’t do anything. And like the one talent man in the parable, he does nothing, only hurting himself and the Master.
The ole’ cookie cutter idea isn’t Biblical. The concept that we all a sheet of cookie dough that is stamped into the same shape works great for cookies, but not disciples. The lessons about spiritual gifts from Corinthians reminds us that some are hands, some are feet, some are eyes, some are noses. We are not all the same. Not everyone can do personal evangelism effectively. Not everyone can teach. Not everyone can comfort. Not everyone knows what to say at the funeral home. Not everyone can find the right words to say to the discouraged. But we all can do something. We all have been gifted and have talent from the Lord.
The one talent man certainly needs the two and five talent men. But the five talent man also needs the others. Think of yourself as you “ought to.” Not too high, nor too low—it’s something that we have to work on all the time. And once we get this “ought to” figured out for ourselves, we then need to help others. So few get this right. Too high and too low seem to be where most people are. Getting a good dose of “ought to” is what we need these days.
How we “ought to” think—that’s what it’s all about. Jesus helps.