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Romans 12: 1 – 3

Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Verse one of Romans 12 is reasonably well known. We are instructed to put our bodies on the altar as a holy and acceptable offering to the Lord. Verse two is very well known – be transformed to the Kingdom way of being and doing by renewing your mind. Verse three, well, that one is less well known.

How would you expect Paul to follow verse two? I would expect him to tell us how to renew our minds or build upon the presentation of our bodies and minds to Christ. Verse three isn’t a radical departure in that Paul indicates how one with a renewed mind thinks but there is something subtle here. Paul actually goes on to talk about our hearts, our core beliefs. He addresses the issue of self-orientation.

Paul admonishes that we not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. I would add that we not think as often of ourselves as we might. Many of our problems are colored by this simple orientation. Are we thinking of ourselves; our needs and wants or are we inclined to think of others, the Kingdom and the will of God.

The epic battle of the id, ego and superego vie for supremacy. Are we simple gratification seeking beasts, or do we yield to a higher call, a higher purpose? Can we pry our attention from ourselves long enough to consider the needs, wants or even hurts of others?

Jesus was moved by compassion because he considered the other person’s needs rather than hurt or inconvenience to himself. I was re-reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyers today and found this quote, “[T]he proud person thinks so highly of himself that he believes he should never be inconvenienced in any way.” That describes me at the grocery store and in traffic. I believe it also describes our society. I watch as people block an entire lane of traffic because they chose the wrong lane and rather than proceed in the lane and turn or U-turn as appropriate, they hold up everyone else. Of course, my self-absorption immediately kicks in, usually with accompanying language. Jesus was not that way. As you read the gospels you see multiple examples of a person’s intervention completely changing his course of travel and conduct. How is that possible? He flowed with the Holy Spirit doing the will of the Father rather than making and following his own plan.

This is how Jesus is and how he was able to have sound judgment. He essentially removed himself from the equation. The right thinking wouldn’t have me thinking all about me and what I want or what I perceive as my needs. This isn’t about judging people even. You and I need sound judgement in everything we do. We have decisions to make and when we learn to think as we ought, those judgments will use the measure of faith God has given us to arrive at good decisions. So, sound judgment is arrived at by not thinking about ourselves more highly than we ought. The more we get ourselves off our minds, the freer we will be.

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