Summary: Paul makes it clear to the Romans that they are to avoid both extremes of self-exaltation and self-devaluation. They are to think with sober judgment and just be honest about themselves.
Doctor A. J. Cronin, the famous physician and author, had a very critical professor when he
was in medical school. He told Cronin that he might make a general practitioner, but he was
hopeless as a surgeon, and Cronin believed him. Completing his medical training, he went to a
remote village in the Scottish Highlands to practice. One winter day a tree fell on the son of the
local pastor. It crushed his spine and left him paralyzed. Cronin knew a delicate neurological
operation was necessary to prevent permanent paralysis, but he also remembered his professor's
evaluation of his skills. He was afraid to take the risk and refused to operate. But the constant
begging and pleading of the pastor finally got through to him, and for the first time he began to
question the validity of his professor's verdict.
"Who was he to tell me what I can or cannot do?" His self-image was released from the
bondage to another's opinion, and with his newfound freedom he went on to successfully operate.
Here was a man who had been thinking of himself lower than he ought to have, and this hindered
him from being what he was capable of being. This is just as much a violation of God's perfect
will for your life as it is to think of yourself more highly than you ought. It is just as wrong to
bury your talent as it is to be sinfully proud of it.
Paul makes it clear to the Romans that they are to avoid both extremes of self-exaltation and
self-devaluation. They are to think with sober judgment and just be honest about themselves.
And in being honest he knows they will be able to see that some of them are better at certain
things than others. The Christian who is being honest about himself will be able to say, "I have
been blest of God to be able to do this better than most other Christians." In other words, they
will recognize they are gifted in certain areas of Christian service. This is not pride but just an
honest evaluation, and it is necessary for Christians to do this in order to function as God wants.
In verse 6 Paul begins to list 7 examples of the specialized gifts that exist in the body of
Christ, and he urges those who have these, and all other gifts, to get busy and use them. In other
words, he is saying not to worry about what you don't have, but just use what you do have, and
that is all that is necessary to be in the perfect will of God. The eye that weeps because it cannot
hear like the ear only blurs its vision and fails to be the best of what it can be for the body. Too
many Christians are so concerned about the gifts they do not have that they neglect the ones they
do have. They think of themselves more lowly than they ought.
When the Indian chief Crowfoot gave the Canadian Pacific Railway the right to cross his
land he was given a lifetime pass. He could ride the train anytime to any place at no cost. He
carried that pass in a leather case around his neck for the rest of his life, but he never once used it.
He had a gift of great value but he never took advantage of it. This is the tragic reality you see
when people never use the gifts God gives them. Paul says that having gifts that differ according
to the grace given us, "Let us use them." Of course, we should use them. What else can you do
with a gift? You either use them or you neglect them and leave them unused. You can say in
pride, "I do not like the gift God has given me. I like the other gifts that I don't have, and so I will
strive to be something I am not." This determination to neglect obvious gifts and strive to be
something you are not is one of the greatest causes for problems in the church.
The Hebrew Christians are scolded in Heb. 5:12: "For though by this time you ought to be
teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God's Word. You need
milk, not solid food." Every Christian has an obligation to learn the basics well enough to teach
them to another. If he needs them taught to him self over and over, he is a baby that just won't
grow up. Every Christian must grow up and be a teacher so that he can communicate the basic
truths of Christ's death, resurrection, and how by faith in him a person can be saved.
Beyond these basics there is a vast body of wisdom and knowledge, and that where the gift