The Characteristics of Christian Behaviour
(c) The Self Awareness of the Christian Mind
In teaching the Roman Christians how they ought to behave Paul begins with the surrender of the body (v1) before progressing to the dedication of the mind (v2). In so doing, he is laying an important foundation, for practical Christian living. Unless our bodies and minds are unconditionally devoted to Christ we will fail in our decisions, our convictions and our service. The 3rd verse is a logical progression from verse 2. Our last study considered the definition of the Christian Mind as opposed to the Secular or Worldly Mind. This study will focus upon how the Christian Mind must consider oneself. The remainder of the chapter deals with how the Christian relates to others; both fellow believers and our enemies. The 3rd verse leads us into this section, dealing with relationships, by teaching us how we should relate to ourselves in our minds. Self examination has ever been a key aspect of sanctification. So often we are too quick in making judgements upon others without pausing to make judgements concerning ourselves. It is this self awareness of the Christian Mind that Paul presents here in this text.
1: Humble Thoughts
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…”
The easiest and most common mistake that is made when we come to self examination is entertaining inflated and exaggerated ideas of ourselves. Christians can become self important within a church fellowship for various reasons; here are some suggestions:
a Those with natural abilities in ministry can feel prestigious.
b Those holding office and position can feel powerful.
c Younger people can feel that they hold the keys to the future.
d Older members can feel that their experience is vital.
e Those with money may feel the church is indebted to them.
f Some may feel themselves holier than others
There is one word which describe all such thoughts –
Of the 7 abominations (Proverbs 6:16-19), pride is foremost in the list. It was this sin that caused Lucifer to fall (Isaiah 14:12-14) and it was this sin which he excited in the heart of Eve as he tempted her in the guise of the serpent (Genesis 3:5).
“Pride is the father of all sin” (John Phillips).
I would suggest that all relationship problems among God’s people are primarily caused by a failure to exercise a humble spirit.
2: Honest Thoughts
“…but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”.
Paul doesn’t only warn against the incorrect mode of thinking but he also teaches the people of God how they are to view themselves. While it is appropriate that we should be humble there is a false humility that we must avoid. A false humility involves an exaggerated demeaning of self, giving the impression that there is nothing which we can do for the Lord. The word “sober” means “to have a sound mind”. We are to judge ourselves in a sensible manner. To do so we must ask the question “Who Am I?”
a I am a human being, created in the image of God.
b I am a redeemed human being purchased by the blood of Christ.
c I am a regenerated human being endowed with the Holy Ghost.
d God has a glorious purpose for me both in time and in eternity.
A sound, honest evaluation of self involves a realisation that God has measured out to every believer particular gifts to be used for his glory. Humility refuses to place self above his station but spirit filled honesty realises that self must make use of whatever particular talent or opportunity which the Lord has bestowed. Jonah was not being humble when he took the ship bound for Tarshish; he was being rebellious. Nor was Peter conceited when he preached to the thousands on the Day of Pentecost; he was simply using the gift given him for that occasion. Sober thinking realises, however, that my gift will only be a blessing when it is complemented by the gifts of other believers – there must be an appreciation of one another.