For by the grace given me

many shells and rocks, Pacific City, OR

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. Romans 12:3

This verse precedes an amazing section of scriptures in which Paul lists several gifts (charismata), gifts of grace freely given by God for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. I’ve always hastened over this verse that begins the introduction to the gifts, but I’d like to take a closer look.

Part I: For by the grace given me

Before Paul speaks this word of warning and instruction, he notes that he’s only speaking “by the grace” given to him. Might we also, before we speak words into someone else’s life, be sure the words are foremost given in grace?

And then I noticed this other thing about “for by the grace” –over there in Galations 2:9, Paul has a word about this grace:

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.

We are called to recognize the grace giftings of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Grace in this sense means a special endowment that brings responsibility for service. Paul is adamant that his apostleship be recognized by his fellow believers, and always he points to Christ as his authority to exhort and instruct them. And didn’t Paul know the consequences of opposing this call to acknowledge the God-given grace at work in a believer? {His letter to the Galations reveals that the gospel gets perverted otherwise, and that is a whole other study.}

I will be looking for the grace in you.

kite flying, Pacific City, OR

Part II: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought

As I investigate more deeply this call to humility, I find something intriguing about its connection to grace (what I will call grace-gifting in this context).

I read in 1 Peter 5:5-6 to clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

And then,

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

If we are proud, vain, conceited, thinking about our own greatness, I believe we’re in danger of not receiving, or losing, our grace-giftings, as this grace is reserved only for the humble.

Paul knew something powerful about this relationship between humility and grace-gifts. It is Paul who continually (and in true modesty) proclaimed himself the “chief of sinners” and “the least of the apostles.” Apostleship was bestowed upon him by the grace of God and he knew it, he knew it wasn’t of himself.

If we could know it, too, that self-pride and grace-giftings cannot reside together in our hearts, we would be so powerfully moving in our gifts and a tremendous blessing to the Body of Christ.

summer 2011, pacific city

Part III: In accordance with the measure of faith God has given you

Our measure of faith is critical to this whole process of our calling to exercise our gifts. It seems there are different measures of faith. As Paul states in Romans 12:6, we have different gifts, and the various measures of faith needed to carry out these gifts is a gift itself. We need to know our measure of faith and act accordingly.

Dangers lie on both ends, both in underestimating our faith and in overestimating our faith.

To underestimate our faith can lead to spiritual laziness, and can be likened to the man who buries his talent. He neglected the abilities God gave him, out of fear, and do you remember? It was taken away from him and given to the one who showed himself wise in the use of gifts.

To overestimate the faith God has measured to us is equally dangerous. Perhaps we’ll try to serve in ways God hasn’t prepared us for. Maybe we’ll be sidetracked from our true purpose. We may find ourselves walking into situations we naively or pridefully think we’re equipped to manage and find ourselves floundering. Or maybe we become like the clay who says to the potter, “what are you making?”

To exercise your grace-giftings exactly in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you, though? That is effective, life-giving stuff that benefits the entire body of Christ.

geyser, Yachats, OR

Jesus, we praise you for the privilege of your grace, we ask for your help in keeping us bowed low before you, to have a correct view of ourselves. What an honor to be faith-filled believers in your service, and help us to always embrace our gifts in accordance with that faith, for the good of the Body and to your glory. Amen.

[Part II of the Romans 12:3-8 series is here: Many Members, One Body.]

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10 Responses to For by the grace given me

  1. Reagan says:


    “If we could know it, too, that self-pride and grace-giftings cannot reside together in our hearts, we would be so powerfully moving in our gifts and a tremendous blessing to the Body of Christ.”


    Lately, I’ve been feeling like my gifts are wasting away as I am at home, everyday with the children. And then I’m hit by the selfishness of such a thought.

    This post is beautiful and timely. Thank you.

  2. Jen says:

    Hello Reagan! I only write my own convictions, so of course, I am also guilty. Especially the second part of your comment, how well I know that selfishness–right before me every single day, the best fertile ground I could hope for in the exercise of my gifts.

    And then, in the recognizing of the grace-giftings of my children, and showing them their gifts because don’t we sometimes not even see them in ourselves? I’ll be working on that one.

    ~blessings to you today! love Jen

  3. e-Mom says:

    A wonderful post, and some good thinking here.

    Recognizing and developing my childrens’ gifts captured my attention as a Mom almost from the beginning. A pre-school teacher got me started down the “learning style” path, and then on I went to learn about the “seven intelligences.”

    Finally, I settled on the truths of Scripture found in Romans 12:6-8… way better than Meyers-Briggs if you’re familiar with that model of temperament. (Best books: “Discover Your God-Given Gifts” and “Discover Your Children’s Gifts” by the Fortunes.)

    Delving deeply into all the spiritual and natural gifts given to our family helped me to understand that God’s grace is manifold, and extremely diverse. I now accept people who are radically and differently graced than I am, simply because I better understand that they too reflect a valid aspect of God’s nature.

    Paul had an amazing understanding of God’s grace. I’ve never noticed his preface about grace in Romans 12:3. Thanks for pointing that out Jennifer!

    Blessings to you!


  4. e-Mom says:

    P.S. Beautiful photos, as always. Love the butterfly kite, LOL! Is that Hawaii in #2? Reminds me of Poipu beach on Kawai.

  5. Jen says:

    Hi e-Mom, thanks for your wonderful input on this! I recently began a Bible study covering giftings, and our leader is using one of the Fortunes books. Thus, my interest in this verse all of a sudden. I’ll be doing a series on each verse of this section, Romans 12:3-8, and this was the beginning. It’s fascinating, and I’m beginning to see the deep value, even the command, to understand ours and others’ grace-giftings.

    And about the photos: I’ve always said that Oregon is just as beautiful as Hawaii, and indeed, that photo you’re inquiring about is in Oregon! I took this picture from atop a sand dune in Pacific City, Oregon a few months ago! Soooo beautiful!

  6. e-Mom says:

    Oregon, eh? LOL, you completely fooled me. Wow, what a shot!

    Your upcoming series on the grace-giftings sounds excellent. Can’t wait! If there’s any subject in Scripture that grabs my attention again and again, this is IT. Some day, I hope to write on what I’ve learned. (After 20 years of study, I’m pretty good at identifying people’s gifts almost right away. Sure helps in my relationships!)

    Meanwhile, if you have an interest, I blogged about the Fortune’s books (in two parts) here:

    Blessings! e-Mom ღ

  7. Jen says:

    e-Mom, oh wow, THANK YOU for those two links!!! Soon as I kick off my regular “work day,” I cannot WAIT to dig into those! I’m sure I’ll be quoting you in my upcoming posts. ;-)

  8. e-Mom says:

    Two Thumbs Up!!! ღ

  9. Anita says:

    What a beautifully done post, Jen. It’s so great to be in a Bible study you thoroughly enjoy!

  10. ladysown says:

    i liked this post.

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