12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think…
The first thing about this half-verse that strikes me is that Paul gives his upcoming admonition by “the grace given me.” Paul was (and still is) seen as a kind of superhero of the Christian faith, so if anyone ever had reason to give himself credit it was him. Yet it’s obvious by this statement that he sees even his own words of advice to others as something not at all generated by his own intellect and experience, but as something that God, by His grace alone, has given him as a gift.
This could be a whole lesson in itself. How far removed from that attitude I am! I’m so prone to dish out advice and pithy insights to others (even on this blog) and yet does the thought even occur to me that it’s only God’s grace which enables me to be of any use at all?
Oh that I could adopt the attitude of Paul in this area! May I get a greater sense of dependence on Him as I do the things that I do. May I repent of the attitude that I can do anything on my own.
Paul now instructs us to adopt the same attitude that he has just modeled. His specific words are “not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.”
Arrogance. Pride. Ego. Condescending attitudes. Superiority complex. Insisting on privileges. These things are to have no place in the life of a follower of Jesus.
We talked about Bob’s sermon last night in youth group. We agreed that Pastor Bob’s attitude is refreshing. (He had said his role in the church is no more important than that of the behind-the-scenes lady who prays and encourages.) It’s such a privilege to be part of a church that emphasizes “servant leadership.”
Yet it’s easy to forget and think that we’re something. One of our high school students years ago, Andrew Boone, taught me a memorable phrase. He even wrote it on my office wall.
“I got nothin.'”
That sums up Paul’s admonition really well.