For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
Grace is the policy of the justice of God in providing blessing and spiritual prosperity for believers. But grace is also the policy of God with regard to mankind in general. Paul had been a recipient of all categories of God’s grace: common grace given to all who are positive at Gospel-hearing, efficacious grace given at salvation, logistical grace provided for every believer and surpassing grace given to those who are advancing to spiritual maturity. Paul alerts all believers to the great distraction with regard to functioning in the royal family — arrogance. Arrogance is lack of grace orientation. Grace orientation means understanding that all God has provided us as believers is undeserved and unmerited.
The Greek word for think more highly is “uperfroneo” [froneo = to think; uper = over]. It means to over-think or to think above yourself. It comes to mean to think too highly of yourself, therefore to be arrogant in your thinking. This does not mean that we should not love ourselves. Just don’t think that you are better than someone else (especially God).
The Greek word for think so as to have sound judgment is “sofroneo,” which means to be in one’s right mind, to be sane or to be reasonable. The present tense of this verb denotes what habitually occurs or may be reasonably expected to occur when the believer is consistently positive toward doctrine. Doctrine in the soul is designed to eliminate the irrational thinking and the arrogant dreaming which is so prevalent among believers today. Doctrine causes the believer to think in terms of common sense, rational and sane divine viewpoint, which inserts accurate Bible doctrine into the daily life and avoids human viewpoint thinking. God the Father has assigned a standard (measure) of thinking from Bible doctrine. Faith is the Greek word “pistis,” which means a system of doctrine (that which is believed).
Translation: “For I say through the grace which has been given to me, to everyone who is among you, stop thinking of self in terms of arrogance beyond what you ought to think; but think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion, as God has assigned to each one a standard of thinking from doctrine.”
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Paul now gives us a glimpse into the structure of the Royal Family of God. Just as our physical bodies have many members and those members have varying functions, so it is with the body of Christ. And, even though we may function under different spiritual gifts all believers in the Church Age are members of the body of Christ. The Greek word for function is “praxis,” which means an office, a deed, to do or to practice. This is an obvious reference to spiritual gifts. (I Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 4:16)
And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Every believer in Jesus Christ during the Church Age receives at least one spiritual gift at salvation (some have multiple gifts). A spiritual gift is a specific ability given by God the Holy Spirit to a believer. The word for gift in Greek is “charisma” and means grace gift. Therefore, spiritual gifts are not earned or deserved. These gifts are divinely bestowed by the Holy Spirit. The purpose for spiritual gifts, as stated in Scripture, is for the function of the body of Christ in the local church. (I Corinthians 12:11-31)
Within the category of spiritual gifts there are permanent and temporary gifts. Permanent gifts were first given to believers in the early Church and will continue to be operational until the end of the Church Age, which ends at the Rapture. Temporary gifts were also given to believers in the early Church, but were foundational for the establishment of the Church and are no longer operational. Since Paul was not teaching the doctrine of spiritual gifts, but was merely pointing out that there are varying gifts within the body of Christ, we will not examine them individually at this time except for the ones mentioned in the context.
The gift of prophecy was a temporary gift which had two connotations: foretelling (predicting the future accurately) and forthtelling (accurate communication of Bible doctrine). Before the canon of Scripture was completed certain male believers who had this spiritual gift received messages from God which were compatible with doctrine not yet written. Foretelling is predicting; forthtelling is preaching/teaching.
The phrase according to the proportion of faith used the Greek word “analogia,” which means right relationship or in agreement with. The function of the gift of prophecy must stand in right relationship with accurate Bible doctrine (faith).
The Greek word for service is “diakonia,” referring to a spiritual gift of aid, support, charity or ministering to others. It is also used for the office of deacon. Its original use was for a waiter waiting on tables. It is often referred to as the spiritual gift of ministering, which is a permanent spiritual gift. There are many variations and distinctions within the framework of this particular gift. If that is your spiritual gift, then use it. Every believer should function within the framework of his spiritual gift and this is accomplished through the filling of the Spirit and through the function of Bible doctrine. All spiritual gifts function best at spiritual maturity and obviously this one is no exception.
The Greek word for teaching is “didasko,” and is a reference to the gift of pastor-teacher, which is a permanent spiritual gift. The Greek word for exhortation is “paraklesis” meaning to exhort and to encourage, which is also a permanent spiritual gift. The Greek word for giving is “metadidomi,” which means the gift of giving which belongs to a few. The function of spiritual giving must be distinguished from ordinary giving in a congregation, or even extraordinary giving in a congregation. The gift is sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit at salvation without regard to financial status. It functions under the filling of the Holy Spirit plus maximum doctrine resident in the soul.
The more the believer advances in the spiritual life the greater the function of his spiritual gift, whatever it is, and the greater blessing he is to the Royal Family of God, for all spiritual gifts are necessary for the function of the body of Christ. The money necessary for the operation of the local church does not all come from this gift, for giving is an expression of worship, a commemoration of grace, and indicative of the mental attitude motivation of individual members of the royal family. In this context, the subject is not the giving of the royal family but the function of the special spiritual gift — the gift of giving which belongs to some believers but not all believers.
The Greek word used for lead is “proistemi,” which means to stand in the front, to be at the head, to direct, or to manage. It means the spiritual gift of administration in this verse. This refers to the fact that at salvation certain believers were given the gift of administrative management. The Greek word for diligence is “spoude” meaning earnestness or zeal. The Greek word for mercy is “eleeo” and means to feel sympathy with the misery of others. The Greek word for cheerfulness is “hilarotes” meaning joyous or hilarious.
These passages do not attempt to enumerate spiritual gifts but rather to emphasize function within one’s sphere of spiritual gift. The emphasis is on function. The command to function means the advance to maturity. For again, all spiritual gifts function best in maturity. Through the distribution of spiritual gifts each believer at salvation is assigned a sphere of influence and operation. The assignment is made by God the Holy Spirit and cannot be cultivated or acquired through human talent, ability, works, personality or systems of morality. The assignment of spiritual gifts at salvation is just another proof from the Scripture that God intends for every believer to attain spiritual maturity from the perception of Bible doctrine. The whole thrust of teaching spiritual gifts is not so that you can recognize and identify your gift, but to advance to maturity where your gift becomes fully operational. (I Corinthians 12:18, 28)