Romans 12 calls to us to no longer be conformed to the “pattern of this world”. This isn’t primarily a pattern of behavior but a pattern of thinking, which is why the next command is to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God is calling us to change the way we think, the way we look at the world, the lens through which we see life.
And what is the old pattern of thinking, the old lens?
Pride. Pride is the pattern we’re supposed to break. And pride has been the pattern of this world since Adam and Eve first chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a common phrase in the Ancient Near East, by the way, that meant “deciding for yourself.” It was a phrase used to describe someone that was now responsible for making their own decisions. To eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to say to God, “Thanks for creating me, but I’ll take it from here. I’ll call the shots. I’ll decide for myself what’s good for me and what’s not good for me. I’ll be in charge of me.” And what drove the decision to eat from that tree? Pride. And pride has been the pattern of our thinking, as fallen human beings, ever since.
But in Romans 12:1-16, Paul calls us to break the old pattern and adopt a new one, not “thinking of yourself more highly than you ought.” And in the following verses, Paul takes us on a journey to humility, beginning where he ended and bringing it full circle when he says in v. 16: “do not be conceited”. Along the way, he gives us 9 distinct “humility hacks”…practical ways to grow in humility:
- Humility comes from seeing our gifts as a way to serve others.(12:3-8)
- Humility comes from prioritizing the honor of others (12:9-10)
- Humility comes from being more passionate about God’s reputation than ours (12:11)
- Humility comes from learning to trust God’s timing. (12:12)
- Humility comes from being generous. (12:13)
- Humility comes from asking how we can help even those who have hurt us. (12: 14)
- Humility comes from practicing empathy. (12:15)
- Humility comes from drawing bigger circles (focusing more on what we have in common than what we have in conflict). (12:16a)
- Humility comes from the company we keep. (12:16b)