Romans 12 seems relatively easy to understand, but I struggle with verse 3. How does one "measure one's value by how much faith God has given you"? What does that mean? In the context Paul is talking about fulfilling our role in the body of Christ. He talks about our interconnectedness and implores us to use our gifts to serve others. He also reminds us to live in love. How does an honest estimate of oneself fit with this? How does one evalueate oneself according to the faith God has given him/her? It seems likely that the "measure of faith" Paul is talking about is NOT faith itself but the "spiritual gift" which we receive when we believe in Christ. The word "measure" metron can mean a "determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit" (Thayer). Paul stress that "each and every one of you should think soberly about our own worth - role because God has given a "measure of faith" or "portion which comes from faith" to each and everyone. He then goes on to say that
4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others
The measure of faith he speaks of seems to refer to the spiritual gift He has given us to serve the body. Everyone is essential and our true identity is found in the body of Christ, as we work in harmony with the other members to glorify God and do his will together.
3As God's messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. 4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.
6God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. 7If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
9Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. 10Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.