Wednesday, May 05, 2010

R12: Have you discovered the real you?

We've spent the last couple of days digging in, preparing ourselves to wrestle with God over our identity. Now it's time to start answering these questions: who are you, where do you belong, what are you supposed to do? We find the answers in Romans 12:3-8.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. [who you are] Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. [where you belong] We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. [what you are supposed to do]
Today, we are going to look at ourselves with sober judgement, in other words clear-minded. You might read this and think, "do not think of yourself more highly than you ought? That's easy! I'm a Christian and I know pride is a sin." Of course, that's easier said than done. In some Christian circles pride is so emphasized that a false-humility abounds; everyone puts on a mask. The other extreme is "meek is weak"- the assumption that humility is a sign of weakness. Both are wrong and miss the point of this passage. This isn't about pride, per se, but about not measuring ourselves against anyone or anything but Christ. The obvious pride expressed as "I'm better than you" is just as sinful as feeling hurt because "this person didn't treat me like I think I should be treated" and is just as sinful as the low esteemed "woe is me" who may not be conscious of it, but is seeking the same level of attention as the first two. Truth is, we need to think of ourselves, not based on anyone else's opinion, but on the grace of God expressed through Jesus.

This expresses itself with humbly acknowledging that we are sinners saved by grace. "[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23, emphasis added) We have to embrace God's love for us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) And we have to live free from the burdens of sin, including the temptations of the world, the deceptions of Satan, and the cravings of our sinful nature. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) Doing so is the first step in stripping down naked and seeing who we really are in God's sight (the only opinion that matters).

Next, we need to think of ourselves "in accordance with the measure of faith God has given us." This is accomplished somewhat above, but goes further and hints towards the next two questions. As I've said before, we need to see who we are before we can see who God wants us to be. We're naked and exposed before God, so who does he want us to be? By the grace of God, we are new creations. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) And he's given us the tools to live as a new creation. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23a)

Chip Ingram gives some good self-help tools to help us along this path. If you have the book, I encourage you to follow his direction with the 3x5 cards. If you're only following along here, take some time to meditate on each of these scriptures.
Tomorrow, we'll be answering the second question.

Think: What does sober self-assessment mean to you?
Reflect: On a scale of one to ten, how accurately do you think your view of yourself is? Why?
Understand: What is your understanding of your position in Christ? Do you think it is important to appropriate what you already possess (faith) versus trying hard to live up to God's standards?
Surrender: Ask God for the power to obey the command in Romans 12:3 to "think accurately about yourself."
Take Action: Make a copy of the cards in the chapter and review them daily for six weeks. [or take the scriptures above, write them down and meditate on them for six weeks.]
Motivation: Ladies, if you need some hope, listen first-hand to [Chip's] wife Theresa's story in her series "Precious in His Sight" at the R12 online resources. This teaching grew out of her own journey toward sober self-assessment.
Encourage someone: As you review these identity cards for the next six weeks, make an extra set and give them to a friend.

Today continues our "virtual small group" covering the book Living On The Edge. For how this group is going to work, read this entry. For an introduction with disclaimers, click here. For some numbers from Barna to motivate you to continue reading, go here. For the R12 videos, click the R12 button on the sidebar to the right. Finally, as we move forward through the book you can always catch up by clicking the R12 label at the end of each post.

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