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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 12 - Verse 3

Verse 3. For I say. The word "for" shows that the apostle is about to introduce some additional considerations to enforce what he had just said; or to show how we may evince a mind that is not conformed to the world.

Through the grace. Through the favour, or in virtue of the favour of the apostolic of[ice. By the authority that is conferred on me to declare the will of God as an apostle. See Barnes "Ro 1:5".

See also Ga 1:6,15; 2:9; Eph 3:8; 1 Ti 1:14.


Not to think, etc. Not to over-estimate himself, or to think more of himself than he ought to. What is the true standard by which we ought to estimate ourselves he immediately adds. This is a caution against pride; and an exhortation not to judge of ourselves by our talents, wealth, or office, but to form another standard of judging of ourselves, by our Christian character. The Romans would probably be in much danger from this quarter. The prevailing habit of judging among them was according to rank, or wealth, or eloquence, or office. While this habit of judging prevailed in the world around them, there was danger that it might also prevail in the church. And the exhortation was, that they should not judge of their own characters by the usual modes among men, but by their Christian attainments. There is no sin to which men are more prone than an inordinate self-valuation and pride. Instead of judging by that which constitutes true excellence of character, they pride themselves on that which is of no intrinsic value—on rank, and titles, and external accomplishments; or on talents, learning, or wealth. The only true standard of character pertains to the principles of action, or to that which constitutes the moral nature of the man; and to that the apostle calls the Roman people.

But to think soberly. Literally, "to think so as to act soberly or wisely." So to estimate ourselves as to act or demean ourselves wisely, prudently, modestly. Those who over-estimate themselves are proud, haughty, foolish in their deportment. Those who think of themselves as they ought, are modest, sober, prudent. There is no way to maintain a wise and proper conduct so certain, as to form a humble and modest estimate of our own character.

According as God hath dealt. As God has measured to each one, or apportioned to each one. In this place, the faith which Christians have is traced to God as its Giver. This fact, that God has given it, will be itself one of the most effectual promoters of humility and right feeling. Men commonly regard the objects on which they pride themselves as things of their own creation, or as depending on themselves. But let an object be regarded as the gift of God, and it ceases to excite pride, and the feeling is at once changed into gratitude. He therefore who regards God as the Source of all blessings, and he only, will be a humble man.

The measure of faith. The word faith here is evidently put for religion, or Christianity. Faith is a main thing in religion. It constitutes its first demand; and the Christian religion, therefore, is characterized by its faith, or its confidence in God. See Mr 16:16. Comp. Heb 11; Ro 4.

We are not therefore to be elated in our view of ourselves; we are not to judge of our own characters by wealth, or talent, or learning; but by our attachment to God, and by the influence of faith on our minds. The meaning is, judge yourselves, or estimate yourselves, by your piety. The propriety of this rule is apparent,

(1.) because no other standard is a correct one, or one of value. Our talent, learning, rank, or wealth, is a very improper rule by which to estimate ourselves. All may be wholly unconnected with moral worth; and the worst as well as the best men may possess them.

(2.) God will judge us in the day of judgment by our attachment to Christ and his cause, (Mt 25) and that is the true standard by which to estimate ourselves here.

(3.) Nothing else will secure and promote humility but this. All other things may produce or promote pride, but this will effectually secure humility. The fact that God has given all that we have; the fact that the poor and obscure may have as true an elevation of character as ourselves; the consciousness of our own imperfections and short-comings in the Christian faith; and the certainty that we are soon to be arraigned to try this great question, whether we have evidence that we are the friends of God, will all tend to promote humbleness of mind, and to bring down our usual inordinate self-estimation. If all Christians judged themselves in this way, it would remove at once no small part of the pride of station and of life from the world, and would produce deep attachment for those who are blessed with the faith of the gospel, though they may be unadorned by any of the wealth or trappings which now promote pride and distinctions among men.

{o} "more highly" Ro 11:20 {1} "to think soberly" "to sobriety"

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