For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 (World English Bible)
The chapter that this verse comes from, is titled “A Living Sacrifice to God” Romans 12 (NLT), which I strongly recommend reading prior to studying the PerspectiVerse above. The chapter describes how we are to worship God by giving ourselves to Him, that He may transform us by changing the way that we think. It is a chapter about humility and using the gifts that we have as best that we can. The chapter concludes with the concept that the Lord will revenge the evil done to you (verse 20) and that rather you should focus on conquering evil by doing good. (verse 21).
What I have found interesting is the concept of looking at self-value in regards to the measure of faith in verse 3, in regards to not being prideful or thinking more highly of oneself than one should. Verse 3 (the PerspectiVerse) (click the link to see verse 3 compared to multiple translations) is translated in the NLT as: “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”
– Some translations start the verse with the fact that one should think of oneself with “sober-judgement”, (NIV, ESV, Berean Study Bible, ISV, and more). The Holmann Christian Standard Bible says to think “sensibly”about one’s value.
– The latter part of the verse is translated in many different ways, and after reading the Greek translation, I was personally most drawn to the World English Bible translation. We also read the following verses which encourage each person to use their gifts “with as much faith as God has given you” (verse 6).
I studied New Testament (Koine) Greek and enjoy looking at the text to further understand.
“Measure” is Strong’s Greek 3358 : μέτρον (transliteration : métron). It is a noun meaning a measure or standard. It is uncommon in the bible, and is included in the following verses:
NIV – “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
NLT – “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
NIV – “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you–and even more.”
NLT – Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given–and you will receive even more.”
NIV – For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
NLT – For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
The three verses above show μέτρον in terms of giving, listening, and judging. What they have in common, is that depending on how you use or do them, they will be returned to you, and even more. The focus is not on the amount or measure given, but rather on the person’s usage of the measure. Instead of being focused on thinking highly (or lowly) of oneself, or even thinking of the size of measure given … we should be concerned with how well we are using the measure. As we use what we have, it will increase.
This concept keeps reminding me of the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The master gave each of his servants a portion of silver “dividing it in proportion to their abilities” (verse 15)(NLT). This relates to how the concept of how μέτρον is used in the above verses, where the amount is not necessarily equal. More likely, it is different for each person… given as God sees fit.
When the master returns from His trip, he meets with each of the servants that he left silver with. After meeting with the last one who did nothing with his silver except bury it to keep it safe, comes verse 29 “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”(NLT)
This is a very interesting concept, where people are entrusted with something … whether it be bags of silver or listening closely. In both circumstances we are expected to do something with what we have been given, as well as we can.
As with “The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids[Virgins]” (Matthew 25:1-13), let us not be caught unaware or unprepared. Though the word μέτρον is not utilized here, each of the bridesmaids had oil to keep their lamps burning. Some were prepared and had the oil they needed, the others did not. Those who were not prepared had to get more oil … but by the time they were ready, it was too late. The bridegroom had left with the ones who were prepared, to the wedding feast.
Matthew 25, which included both parables of the Talents and the Bridesmaids, concludes with Jesus returning and explaining that when people do or do not help ” the least of these” they are doing the same to Jesus(Verse 40 & 45). The final verse reveals eternal life for those who help [they are righteous], and eternal punishment for those who do not. (See post on Righteous Life).
In warning people from thinking too highly of themselves in the PerspectiVerse (see NLT), we see a similar concept displayed in the previous chapter. Romans 11:20-22: “Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe.” Intense. The fear [respect] for God is here, along with a healthy dose of humility.
Let us not take for granted the things that God has given us. Rather, may we be diligent and focused on doing the best we can with what we have.
Dear Lord, I choose to put my focus on You and on being led by the Holy Spirit. I repent for anytime that my focus has not been in line with Your will. I choose to use the faith and gifts that You have given me. Thank you!