Summary: Living an authentic Christian life
Someone wrote that some of the world’s unhappiest people are Christians. Why? Some Christians are too Christian to enjoy sinning but too sinful to enjoy their Christianity. Some Christians have enough faith to recognize their need for prayer, but not enough to take them to prayer meeting. Some Christians have enough faith to keep them from reading porn materials but not enough for them to read their Bible daily. Teenagers have an expression. “Be real!” In fact, there was a softdrink commercial that capitalized on this expression: “Magpakatotoo ka!” [Be Real!] Last night, through Romans 12:1-2, I challenged you to surrender yourselves to God and separate from the world’s value system. Tonight, I challenge you to be real as believers. Let’s open our Bibles to Romans 12:3-21. To make it easy for us to remember our message, I came up with the acronym R-E-A-L.
“R” stands for “REMEMBER who we are in Christ.” Verse 3 reads, “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 measure of faith God has given you.” In our devotional guide this morning, we saw that we are to love ourselves correctly. One way of doing that is by having a sober assessment of your self or by coming to grips with the real you.
We struggle with the question of identity. We ask, “Who am I?” We tend to underestimate or overestimate ourselves. When we struggle with who we are, we find it hard to accept others also. But the Bible says it’s okay to have a high, health view of your self. Note that it does not say, “Do not think of yourself highly.” Instead, it says that “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” And to have the right estimate of ourselves, we have to start with how God looks at us. Paul wrote, “…think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”. The God’s Word version goes like this: “your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers.” We need to value ourselves the way God values us. God created us in His image. Yes, sin tarnished that image. But God redeemed us. And now, we are His workmanship. We are His masterpiece! God values us so much even before we were born, He watched over us. Isaiah 44:2 says, “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.” In Psalm 139:16, it says, “You... scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” We are so valuable to God. So, being humble is not putting your self down. Being humble is knowing where you stand before God. Remember who you are in Christ. Never forget who you really are.
We also struggle with the question of security. We ask, “Where do I belong?” When we are insecure, it affects how we relate with others. Verses 4-5 says, “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 who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” We belong to Christ’s body. The future doctor Lester Chua told me that there is always an effect on the body when you remove any part of it. That’s why always remember that we belong to each other. I like how The Message translated Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing.” Ephesians 4:4 also says, “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.” Remember who we are in Christ.
“E” stands for “ENJOY serving others with your gifts.” We also struggle with the question of significance. We ask, “What am I supposed to do?” Verses 6-8 teach us that God has gifted us to serve Him through each other. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Time does not permit us to discuss in detail the spiritual gifts itemized here. But let me first emphasize that God gave each one at least one spiritual gift. The New Living Translation goes like this: “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” All of us are gifted. Thus, we need to discover and develop our gifts to serve others: “let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” I once taught in our church that we are to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. We must find out what we do well and do more of it. And we must find what we don’t do well and do less of it.