Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
In Romans 1, Paul explained the departure of reason in a life that rejects God. The end result was a ‘debased mind.’ (1:28) By contrast, in Romans 12, he called for Christians to submit the whole of their lives to God. This, he noted in 12:1, is true spiritual sacrifice, resulting in being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (12:2) The mind renewed by the grace of God in Christ thinks differently.
Thinking by the word. The grace given to Paul extended to his authority as an apostle and gave him the right to say “I say to everyone among you.” The grace given to us in Christ brings us under God’s word with all of its promises, provisions, and directions. Who has not heard some simple, uneducated soul bring crystal clear focus to a subject because their mind had been tutored in the discipline of God’s word? If we would unleash our grey matter to its greatest potential, we will begin with what God has said.
Thinking beyond yourself. Self focus lends itself to distortion. Paul was concerned for those who overvalued themselves. Sometimes we make the equal but opposite error of undervaluing self. If you are like me, you can do both in the space of a few minutes. The corrective for both is found in the same place, at the cross. How can you undervalue what Christ was willing to die for? How can you overvalue what Christ had to die for? The cross is the place for sober thinking and the first thing it does is to take our vision away from self to him who died to redeem us all.
Thinking alone, if need be. Paul said let ‘each’ one think. There is a difference in receiving help with our thinking and letting the help do our thinking. This is very personal. Our gifts differ and that includes intellectual capacity. But the man with one talent was not excused because he only had one and he was not rebuked because he didn’t have ten. He was rebuked because he didn’t use what he had.
Thinking in faith. Faith is the context in which Christian thinking operates. It is how we are saved as Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3. It is how we walk as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5. Learning to trust all that God has said is the spiritual air we breathe.
Use it or lose it. That admonition was never more true than when applied to the grey matter God has blessed you with. 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
What a wonderful Savior he is!