Romans 12:3: Humility

Outline

  • Psychology of pride
  • Remedy of pride

Introduction

When I say, ‘Be holy!’ when you seek to apply that, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Paul has just told us to be holy, to be a living sacrifice giving our whole selves to God. In the rest of this section he moves on to tell us the specifics of what that looks like. What is the first thing Paul talks about? This question is very helpful for us to see what Paul prioritises. Paul is moving into a new section where he talks about our relationships to one another in the church. The first application of holiness for Paul is body life and serving one another with our gifts, that is what comes next in 3-13; then he talks about relating to persecution, the authorities, etc. Already we are taught several things. That holiness is not something done in a cave, it is not the journey of the lonely traveller. Also that the first place we should be thinking about being holy is in holy service to one another. It helps us define spiritual worship not in terms of existential experiences but in loving connection and selfless service.

However, before Paul talks about serving one another there is a massive obstacle that needs to be overcome first, pride. 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 judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.’ So here is the chain of Paul’s thought. ‘I want you to be holy; I want you to do this by serving one another; but this can only be done if you are humble.’ And so we must begin our investigation of being a living sacrifice where Paul does, by starting with humility. Paul here begins his description of the Christian life the same way Jesus does in the Beattitudes, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ Today as we look at humility we will do it under two headings, firstly we want to look at the psychology of pride and then its remedy.

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