3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[a] 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[b] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
“'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.”
- Elder Joseph Brackett, 1847
The old Shaker song Simple Gifts has a lovely melody and echoes the thought of St. Paul in today’s reading. Paul encourages us “not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think” (12:3). How often I have caught myself thinking how wonderfully I’ve done something. How often I just assume, for example, that I know more about something than someone else does. How often, I’m ashamed to say, I see what others are doing and tell myself that my way would be so much better.
Paul is not teaching that we should have low self-esteem or see ourselves as having no skills or talents or gifts. Rather, we are to see ourselves as someone with gifts to offer, gifts that are particularly ours. When we are in community, the gift of one person complements the gifts of others and we are more together. However, we are not as “together” when one of us thinks he or she is better in some way than the others.
Thus – “come down where we ought to be!” I love how the song expresses that idea. And where is the place we ought to be? That place is one in which we can use our gifts and talents as well as appreciating the talents of others. We don’t see ourselves as either higher or lower than anyone else. That place is one in which each person joyfully does his or her part. It might not always feel like “love and delight,” but that place is, in fact, the body of Christ.
may I this day move in my place, not too high, not too low.
O may I find strength in your grace, led by you, Lord I go.
Written by Pastor Pam Mitcham—Pastor of Community Care