For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
One of the most dangerous practices in our culture today is the tendency to measure one’s worth by comparing oneself to other people. This is certainly not a new concept that is unique to the American culture or the American church. Therefore, Paul is addressing this concern in the first century church. Paul knew how destructive this could be in the life of the church. This is why he writes, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” Paul is warning the early church of “comparison-itis.”
So, Paul offers and antidote for this deadly disease. He instructs us not to see ourselves as we stack up against others, nor as others evaluate us, but as God sees us. God’s estimation of our worth is what matters the most. God does not define us according to culturally defined externals. Even our gender, ethnicity, family heritage, or body type are not of primary importance to Him. He uses an altogether different criteria as the basis for how He deals with us.
In this passage, Paul points out how diverse the Body of Christ is. The important thing to note is that despite our differences, we are one body. Here we see the connection between diversity and unity. This is what should make the Church stand out in the culture today. When non-believers see a diverse group of people living in unity, they stand up and take notice. Unfortunately, the church has not always lived out this principle. Throughout the church’s history, conformity has often taken precedence over diversity, and division has taken precedence over unity.
After listing some of the different spiritual gifts found in the church, Paul ties it all together by writing, “Love must be sincere.” You see the key to experiencing unity in a group of diverse people is love! Love means “to value.” When we choose to love (value) others because God loves them, we are free to live in harmony with them despite our differences.
Paul wraps up this section by writing, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” In a culture that is obsessed with selfish ambition, this does not make sense. The culture teaches us to conform to its image and to put our needs before others’. God’s Word teaches us to conform to the image of Christ and put others’ needs before our own. If we are to follow these instructions, it will take a large dose of humility. Only when we realize that we are who we are by the grace of God can we begin to love (value) others the way God loves them.
Questions to Ponder:
Do you suffer from comparison-itis? Do you find ways to look down on others? Do you look down on yourself and envy others because you feel inferior to them?
- Worship the LORD, for He clothed Himself in humanity and bore our sins. The punishment we deserved He took on Himself so those who receive Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior could be with Him where He is.
- Thank the LORD for your salvation. Thank Him for the person/people who helped you on your journey/walk with the LORD. Thank Him for Oak Pointe Church and, if applicable, the church you grew up in.
- Ask the LORD to empower You to be compassionate, merciful, and full of grace and love, just as our Savior is.
Lord God, I ask that You would lead and guide me into Your Truth. Empower me as I look to You and submit and trust in You and Your ways. Teach me to serve. Infill me with Your power to live low and make others great. Help me to receive each person each day this week and to see them as one who has been fashioned by You and created in Your image, ones who have infinite value and are deeply loved and treasured by You, Abba. Make me a trophy of love. Let my life reflect Your peace, love, grace, forgiveness, understanding, truth, peace, etc. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.