A key component of presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices is an accurate understanding of ourselves. To do this, we must be careful not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to. Conversely, we also shouldn’t unnecessarily denigrate ourselves. It seems that we typically fall into one trap or the other. We embrace either pride or despair. Rather than falling into either of these ditches, we should strive for an accurate self-assessment (Romans 12:3). An accurate self-assessment is only possible when we think of ourselves relative to the gift of faith that God has given us (Romans 12:3).
By faith, we can avoid the twin mistakes of pride and self-denigration. Faith in Jesus’ death helps us to appreciate better our infinite value and avoid the trap of self-denigration. Authentic faith in Jesus’ death also requires a frank admission of our sin, preventing pride. Ellen White summarized these points well when she said, “One reason for this is the low estimate which they place upon themselves. Christ paid an infinite price for us, and according to the price paid He desires us to value ourselves” (Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, 498).
By faith, we embrace our status as forgiven sinners. This is simultaneously humbling and empowering. Since we are all purchased with the blood of Christ, each one of us is equal in value. As members of one body, we each have our unique functions (Romans 12:4). None of us lives independent of the others (Romans 12:5). Like parts of the human body, each part serves its own function. When we exercised faith, we were saved as individuals. At the moment of salvation, however, we were incorporated into the body of Christ. As members of the body of Christ, we are radically intertwined with one another and interdependent with one another. Whatever our unique functions are, we are urged to use them to care for and build up the body of Christ.
The list of gifts Paul shares in Romans 12 is not exhaustive. In other texts, Paul presents different but mostly overlapping lists of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:27–31; Ephesians 4:11–13). What’s important isn’t so much the gift but the use of the gift. We are to use the gifts God has given us in a way that is equal to the grace we have been given (Romans 12:6). Each of us has been given grace equal to the gift of Christ (Ephesians 4:7). Whether our gift is prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, or showing mercy, we are to use it with all the energy God gives us to minister to and serve others.