For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
- No one above, no one below, we’re all on the same level.
- Growth is measured by matching works done to faith given.
- Use your faith to measure your own growth, not your brother’s growth.
- If you are growing, God will increase your faith to keep you growing.
Our natural tendency as a human community is to organize ourselves hierarchically: a few at the top, a few more in the middle and most at the bottom. But that is NOT how God has instructed believers to live. Jesus told His disciples, the future leaders of the Church “…neither be ye called masters…” (Matthew 23:8-10).
In other words, there is no one at the top: we are all on the same level with the Apostles! And in James we learn that God gives wisdom to whoever asks Him for it (James 1:5). That is to say, we ALL have the same capacity to fellowship with God and to know His perfect will.
Moreover, God declares that ALL our righteousnesses are like filthy rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6) and that His ways are much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). The point being that before God we are ALL equal. Therefore, no one should consider himself/herself above anyone else. Believers are all on the same level in the Body of Christ: there is no hierarchy; no one to look up to and no one to look down on.
So then the question arises, “How do we measure our Spiritual growth?” This is the question addressed in our verse, Romans 12:3, where God declares an individual’s FAITH is to be his/her measuring stick.
In the verse, God instructs us to rigorously assess our performance against the amount of faith that He gives us. In other words, we are not to measure ourselves by comparing our performance with our fellow believers; we are to measure ourselves by what we have done with the faith we have been given. If we have been given great faith, but have done very little in the Kingdom, then we don’t measure up.
To measure up, we must exercise all the faith God has given us. If you have been given the faith to move mountains, then move them around. If you have the faith to be a missionary, but you are serving on a church committee then you have missed the mark. If you have the faith to sweep the church, don’t settle for sweeping a pew. If you have the faith to witness to many, don’t settle for telling a few. Make no mistake, God expects us to ‘stand tall’ to attain our full faith potential; He wants each believer to be able to say like Paul:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith ~2 Timothy 4:7
The second feature of God’s appointed measuring stick (faith) is that it is of varying standard. This is quite unusual. In modern life great effort is made to standardize units of measurement so that a pound/kilogram in Peru is identical to a pound/kilogram in Nepal; that an hour of class at a university in Botswana is just as long as an hour of class in a university in Andorra.
God approaches the measurement of our spiritual maturity differently. Each of us has a different measuring stick, one that is as long as the faith He has given us. That means that I can’t measure my brother’s commitment with my measuring stick. I can only assess my growth with my measuring stick.
To be clear, this is NOT moral relativism, because it is The One True and Living God, Jehovah, that provides the measuring sticks of faith. This also does not mean we are not to show a brother or sister an error; indeed we are instructed to (Galatians 6:1-3). What this does mean, is that we cannot judge the sincerity of anyone’s effort; we cannot determine the depth of anyone’s commitment. We cannot tell anyone that they should go on the mission field instead of in the choir stall. Indeed, many Christians have been pushed beyond the capacity of their faith and experienced the pain of failure.
Finally, it is God alone that gives us faith and it is God alone that increases that faith. The Bible has prescriptions for increasing our spiritual endurance our wisdom, our patience, but it gives us no prescription for increasing our faith. That is because only God increases faith. As we grow in the expression of our faith, as we reach the limits of the faith He gives us, God grows our faith some more. So we never get to a place where our faith matches our work in the Kingdom and there is no more need to grow. Instead, God continues to stretch us, He wants us to grow even more… because we have a looooooong way to go to get to the stature of His son Jesus.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ ~Ephesians 4:13, 15
How well have you used the faith given to you?