Next, how do we think soberly and accurately about ourselves and the gifts God has given? We err through false humility if we do not acknowledge the gifts we have been given or use them to serve the Lord and His people. John Murray wrote, “If we underestimate, then we are refusing to acknowledge God’s grace and we fail to exercise that which God has dispensed for our own sanctification and that of others.”
First, to soberly judge ourselves, we must ask God in prayer to make clear to us how He has gifted us. To know His answer, we must study lists of gifts such as the one in Romans 12:4–8. There, we see that Christ arrays His body with diverse gifts and functions: service, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy work. Mindful of those kinds of categories, we should ask the Lord, “What am I good at, by Your grace?” and “What do I enjoy doing that truly meets the needs of Your people?”
Second, we should ask other brothers and sisters to help us evaluate our gifts. We must listen to them and be careful not to reject their assessments in the name of humility. Then, we labor to sharpen the gifts they see in us. Believers who seek peer evaluations regularly are those who grow in faithfulness with their gifts. Giftings can also change over time. Thus, we always need to be taking stock of our gifts in order to adjust our service. Friends sometimes see such changes in us before we do. Proverbs 19:20 tells us to “listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”
Third, we “jump in” to serve by exercising our known gifts, trusting that the Lord will guide us into greater clarity. We are to soberly judge ourselves “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Though this phrase is hard to interpret, it seems best to understand that the “measure of faith” speaks of the different ways our faith is to be exercised depending on our particular gifting. It is not the quantity or strength of our faith that is emphasized here, but each person must exercise faith while employing the unique gifts the Lord has given. In the particulars of our labor and sacrificial service, we rest on Christ alone to lead us. By faith, we do what we know we can do and trust that the Lord will lead us into more.
Romans 12:3 offers an implicit warning, too. The church loses twice when we do not think soberly. When we covet the gifts of others and try to serve in a way contrary to our gifting, the calling and work we selfishly undertake is poorly fulfilled. Conversely, the calling and work that we were well equipped to fulfill but refused to perform may end up going unfulfilled or being poorly done.
To know God deeply in the exercise of our gifts, we must know ourselves. Thinking rightly about ourselves can be uncomfortable work. However, as we know and use our gifts according to the Lord’s design, we will know more of the greatness of our God as we together with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:6).