We all possess incredible ingenuity for obtaining our fair share. Preconceived paradigms of what constitutes fair varies greatly from person to person.
Whether a pie, chocolate bar or some other precious portion, our children eyed the division process with intense scrutiny. Nobody wanted the smallest piece; each hoped for the largest slice; all at the very least, desired their fair share. Generosity sometimes prevailed, but not always.
To settle any disputes, we established a simple rule: the person creating the divide received the last piece. The extra care and concentrated effort to ensure fairness often bordered on humorous!
Too Little or Too Much
I’m glad God portions to each of us what we need. No one receives too little or too much. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in the desert gathering manna. God supplied. They gathered. Some gathered little, others gathered much, but all received sufficient quantity (Exodus 16).
Whatever the need, we can trust God to supply. There are no shortages in His Kingdom!
“For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
The King James Version says, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
The Passion Translation says it like this: “God has given me grace to speak a warning about pride. I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem.”
Paul hits the target, doesn’t he? Hiding behind the expectation of “more,” whatever the more looks like, pride lingers and demands.
As long as we focus on “the piece” we don’t possess, we lose. The Roman church had as much trouble understanding the concept of fair as I sometimes do. Paul encouraged them to look up before they looked around.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever? Amen.”
Now with a realigned perspective of God’s majesty, Paul gives a grand, “Therefore . . .” (12:1-2). Because of who He is, therefore, worship Him. Therefore, offer yourselves sacrificially and holy unto Him. Therefore, change your mindset and begin thinking like He does.
A Measure of Faith
Just like with my children or the children of Israel, I sometimes attempt to “gather” more than my fair share, stashing it away for another day. God knows exactly what I need — for today and tomorrow. He also knows faith is one of our greatest needs.
So He “has distributed” to each one a measure of faith — our fair share! This word “measure” or “metron” in Greek means “a portion, measure off or allotted” (1). Thayers Greek-English Lexicon says it this way, “a determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit” (pg 408).
God knows more than anyone what is necessary. He assures us that the smallest portion, even mustard-seed-sized, will suffice. We humbly receive and draw from His rich resources
“. . . in accordance with the faith God has distributed . . .”
I have it! You have it! We all possess a measure of faith — a grace gift. No one claims credit for a gift received. Because He has predetermined exactly what I, or you, or we, need, no gloating or boasting allowed! All the faith I operate under came from Him, to be used by Him, for His glory, and the furthering of His kingdom.
Paul connects our portion of faith to our portion of service to others in the body.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith, if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
What God first gives to us, we willingly and liberally give to others.
Where do I struggle, needing faith the most? In the great faith chapter of Hebrews, I’m reminded that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (11:6). That means I need faith everywhere, all the time, to live life honoring to God.
What demands the most faith from me? Right now, I’m assisting in a new church plant. Honestly, my humanity didn’t want to go there! I knew it would require far more than my aging body was comfortable to give. I understood all too clearly how much work establishing a new church would require, and definitely needed increased faith to step into the fray!
In everything I do, faith forms the foundation: in prophesying and speaking boldly into my culture; in serving others; by accurately teaching the Word of truth; in sacrificially offering encouragement to those carrying burdens and weighed down by pressures; in generously giving of my time and resources; or through being God’s hands of mercy.
God gives His fair share of faith to accomplish whatever He asks of me. But, whatever the portion, little or great, God intends it for the good of others. It’s in the activation of our faith that God’s purposes are fulfilled.
The Piece in the Middle
I can’t claim credit for the faith I possess. I daily open the gift of faith, drawing from the measure He distributed, pouring it lavishly out to others. As I do, faith never diminishes. Actually, the flow increases, becoming fresher and sweeter through use.
We will never exhaust the measure of faith God has already given to us. Though we spend our entire lives tapping into and drawing from the rich resource, it continues to flow.
In humility we lay ourselves low, worshiping Him and serving others, until the beauty and fragrance of faith reaches and touches countless lives. Faith comes from God and operates through Him for His praise.
Let’s take the measure of faith He has given us and use it today for His intended use, combining it with the gifts He graced upon us. Oh, what God will do. Trust me, we have more than our fair share!
(1) Spiros Zondhiates, Th.D., Ed., The Complete Word Study Dictionary, For a Deeper Understanding of the Word; New Testament, (AMG, Chattanooga, 1992), 975