“Think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3
In the book of Romans in the New Testament, the apostle Paul is writing to the early Christians in Rome to provide them with apostolic instruction and boost their faith. The first eleven chapters of Romans outline what the Christian faith is generally all about. Paul lays out for us what the Christian faith is, its theology, and church doctrine. He also describes God’s unfailing mercy.
By chapter twelve, Paul tells the Roman Christians how to apply their newfound faith and doctrine in a practical manner. If you haven’t read this incredible book in the Bible in a while, I encourage you to go back and review it. It is packed with information about how to behave like a Christian.
But let’s focus on verse three in chapter twelve where Paul is writing about our measure of faith. It is a portion of Scripture that seems to get overlooked rather often. And as with a lot of Scripture, a casual reader might easily misinterpret it, yet it bears our attention.
First, Paul tells us in verse three to “think with sober judgment.” On the surface, it appears Paul is instructing us to exercise sound judgment and self-control, which is true. But when we study the verses surrounding verse three, when we put it into context, Paul is also telling us we should use proper discernment, realizing who we in comparison to the Creator of the universe.
Our sober judgment should lead us to recognize we are nothing without God. We realize how immeasurably good, faithful, and merciful He is toward us, evidenced by His Son, Jesus’, death on the cross on our behalf. His atoning sacrifice should produce in us a sense of humility. We know we don’t deserve God’s grace.
Peter also reminds us we ought to then retain our humility in 1 Peter 5:5.
“Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
When we think with sober judgment, we humble ourselves toward God. The natural next step ought to be to retain that humility when we encounter others with a spirit of kindness and hospitality. Paul tells us we accomplish this according to the measure of faith God has assigned to each of us.
But how much faith has God given us?
We might initially tempt ourselves to think God doles out differing amounts of faith to each person. Some have great faith while others have little, and, somehow, the different measurements are what God intended for us. But why would God give someone only a little faith? The idea doesn’t make sense since God desires that we seek His righteousness, enjoy eternity with Him, and experience His fullness of joy.
The second half of verse three, then, has nothing to do with how much faith God has granted to us. Rather, the measure of faith God has given us is about stewardship and the use of our spiritual gifts within the body of Christ.
When we accept God’s gift of grace, He also gives us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4) so we may fulfill our kingdom purpose. We then employ our measure of faith, which is the type of spiritual gift God gives us, to our best ability. We all have the same measure of faith. We each have a gift we can use to fulfill the role God has called us to for the church’s general good. But it’s a matter of whether we will fully use it.
As an example, the verses following verse three in Romans 12 remind us of how the body of Christ has many members, each with a unique function, but we are all one in Christ.
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” Romans 12:4
According to Paul, some of us have the gift of prophecy. Others have the gift of ministry, teaching, encouraging and counseling, generosity, leadership, or mercy. Each of us has a place in the body of Christ, and God calls us to use our gifts to their fullest measures. Not because of the amount of faith we have, but because God has provided the resources we need to accomplish our work successfully.
We find those resources in each other.
Gifts of Faith
This basic Christian principle of fully using our gifts for the good of the church is echoed throughout the Bible, particularly in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.
Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Ephesians 4:11–13, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come to the unity
of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
1 Corinthians 12:7, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
1 Corinthians 12:12, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For, in fact, the body is not one member but many.”
The gifts the Holy Spirit gives us could be anything, but one thing is true. God intends for us to use them to help others. The apostle Peter reminds us of this in 1 Peter 4:10.
Sharing Our Faith with Others
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10
The original Greek word he uses here for “gift” is charisma, which means an endowment. It emphasizes how freely God has given us gifts. Like our salvation, we cannot earn them. Our gifts come only through the blessing of the Holy Spirit. And we are not to use our gifts solely to our advantage, but as common property within the church. We are only stewards of our gifts so we can edify others.
Peter also says to “minister it to one another.” Here, Peter is talking about our attitude. As followers of Christ, we share our gifts with others, not begrudgingly but with joyful generosity. And we should not envy others’ gifts but be grateful for how the Lord has blessed us.
Finally, Peter says we ought to be good stewards. A good steward (or caretaker) isn’t only responsible for their gift. They are also responsible for the resources others need so they can use their gift effectively. In other words, we are responsible for helping each other so God can be properly glorified, not just by one person, but by all of us working together.
Ultimately, as we seek the good in others, we motivate the good in ourselves.
God has given all of us the same measure of faith. He has given us all a gift (or gifts) to accomplish not only our own kingdom work but also others’. With sober judgment, let us humbly pursue the fullness of our gift every day so we may glorify the Lord as He deserves.