Summary: Rom 12:3-8


What is a church? The church is not a place but a people, an organism and not an organization, a community and not a club, a body and not a building. It’s more “who” than “what” or “where.”

It’s been said:

“I am your church. Make of me what you will, I shall reflect you as clearly as a mirror. If outwardly my appearance is pleasing and inviting, it is because you made me so. If within my spiritual atmosphere is kindly, yet earnest; reverent, yet friendly; worshipful, yet sincere; sympathetic, yet strong; divine, yet humanly expressed; it is but the manifestation of the spirit of those who constitute my membership.

But if you should, by chance, find me a bit cold and dull, I beg of you not to condemn me, for I show forth the only kind of life I shall receive from you. I have no life or spirit apart from you.

Of this may you always be assured: I will respond instantly to your every wish practically expressed, for I am the reflected image of your own soul.”

Previously, Paul commanded believers, in the imperative mood, not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (v 2).

What kind of church is pleasing to God? Why did God put us together? How do members of the body relate to one another?

Watch For Haughty Behavior

3 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. (Rom 12:3)

A haughty lawyer once asked a sterling old farmer, ‘Why don’t you hold up your head neither before God nor man.”

“Squire,” replied the farmer, “see that field of grain? Only those heads that are empty stand upright. Those that are well-filled are the ones that bow low.”

“Think…highly” (huper-phroneo) in verse 3 is a single Greek word. The prefix to it is huper (hyper) and the verb is parallel and an extension of the verse 3’s other two “think” (phroneo), which is the function of the brain. The brain is the cognitive center and the clearing house of the body, passing information and delivering messages to parts of the body signalling them on what to think, how to feel and how to act. “Hyper-think” means “to esteem oneself overmuch” and it implies to be vain or arrogant, to be big-headed instead of level-headed, to have an exaggerated, elevated, excessive and egotistical sense of your own importance. It’s been said that bullies and criminals are more likely to suffer of 'High Self Esteem disorder' or unrealistically high self-esteem.

The solution, on the other hand, is not to put oneself down and let others win. The contrast with hyper thinking is not adopting a Charlie Brown mentality, having a low, negative self-image, feeling insecure,” but “to think soberly” (sober judgment in NIV), which is a verb, meaning to be sound, sane and stable in thought. Its noun form, surprisingly, could also mean discipline, prudent, moderate, not to be narcissistic, opinionated or thoughtless. Interestingly, as I was preparing this message at a cafeteria the song “Born to Be Wild” was blaring in the store. There are but six references to this word in the Bible. The word first appears in the Bible for the demon-possessed man who was healed by Jesus, sitting, and clothed, and in his “right mind” (Mark 5:15, Luke 8:35). The apostles Paul and Peter like using this word in the imperative mood. In the Pastoral epistles, Paul especially targeted young people, commanding Titus to encourage (in the imperative) young men to be self-controlled (Titus 2:6). Peter commanded believers to be “clear minded (sober)” and self-controlled unto prayer (1 Peter 4:7), as God had distributed, divided or dealt him or her.

The last verb in verse 3 “given” (merizo) is not the usual “give” but “parts,” mostly translated as divide, distribute or dealt. Only NIV translates it as “give.” The noun form is the word “part.” NASB translates it as “allotted,” ASV as “dealt” and RSV as “assigned.” That’s because Paul did not want them to think they have it all. What they have is a part, a piece, a portion, not even a chunk, so they should be humble in attitude, balanced in thinking and down to earth, not to brag about abilities, advantages and advancement.

Walk Harmoniously With Others

4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Rom 12:4)

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