Last night we were studying Romans 12, a very familiar chapter to me. Paul admonishes the Christians to have a "sober" view of themselves; to not think more highly of themselves than they should, but to recognize and energetically use the gifts they have been given. My thoughts at the time focused on the gifts, but the early morning hours brought a new direction to my thinking.
When Paul is listing the gifts and encouraging the people to be diligent in using them for mutual benefit, he never mentions that they should evaluate the success of their gifts. Instead, he follows the list with this statement - "Let love be without hypocrisy."
I'm afraid I do not have a "sober" view of myself. You see, when I speak, whether teaching or exhorting, or when I give, I expect to see change right away. I expect my words to open the doors of understanding and obedience, my gifts to build up and improve situations. I expect to be as God, who spoke and things came into existence. What arrogance! What a deluded view of myself!
God is a good, and He is patient. While He can (and did) speak things into existence right away, He also sovereignly presides over long stretches of time where the work is done quietly and behind the scenes. Like nine months of developing humans. Like years growing a redwood. Like hundreds of years for the fullness of time for Christ to come in His incarnation.
So while I am called to use the gifts He's given, I am also called to love the people He's placed in my life. I'm not to worry over whether or not they are responding appropriately to me and my gifts. I am called to let the results rest with the One who gives growth, who effects change, who brings life from death.
I'm praying for a more sober year this year.