In a practical exhortation based on the great theme of God offering salvation to all men through the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul instructs, “Be not wise in your own conceits” (Rom. 12:16). Christ’s church at Rome had some Jews and some Gentiles. Because of their background, the Jews had a tendency to look down on the Gentiles, as Paul describes in Romans 2:17-20:
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
In reaction to this attitude, the Gentiles in the church were tempted to boast that they were chosen to be part of God’s people while many Jews, who did not believe Jesus, were rejected. To these, Paul wrote, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Also many Greeks, filled with their own wisdom, patronized those not acquainted with Greek culture, (called Barbarians), but Paul wrote, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise (Rom. 1:14).
In summary, there were many temptations for the brethren at Rome to be lifted up with pride against one another. The letter to the Romans has as one of its main aims to halt this pride by showing that all glory belongs to God. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23); therefore we have no grounds to boast in ourselves as faultless (Rom. 3:27). It is on the basis of obedient faith in Christ that we may stand before God (Rom. 5:1-2). God’s love, not our own accomplishments, is the basis of our hope of salvation (Rom. 5:6-9; 8:31-32). When we consider how God had this plan of redemption in His mind all along and worked it out through human history, all we can do is marvel at His wisdom and give all glory to Him (Rom. 11:33-36).
Christ’s church at Flatwoods needs the exhortation of Romans 12:16 as well. I need to remember that I have no room nor need to boast in my own abilities. God loves me though I have sinned. He has given me forgiveness in Christ. Pride is the greatest enemy to peace in the church. Recognizing our dependence on God and being thankful for His forgiveness is the path to humility and peace among His people.