The Benefit of Deficiency

My husband said that the harder something is, the more likely I am to try it. He’s right. I’ll snatch up a challenge like I would a free book or chocolate bar.

So when someone challenged the women’s retreat attendees to memorize Romans, chapter 12 in two days, my heart rate increased. I felt like I did in college, right before a tennis match against a nationally ranked player. I thrive on adrenaline and competitiveness. Memorize Romans 12 by Friday, and I’ll get a prize? I took the bait and ate it up.

The first two verses went down easy (I guess because I had previously memorized them):

I urge you, therefore, brethren, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is; that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:1-2)

But after that, it got hard to swallow. Verse 3 took me by surprise. I thought I was just taking up a memory challenge, but God had another purpose.

And through the grace of God given to me I say to every man 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.

(Romans 12:3)

The two days I had to memorize this chapter were the same two days I was—(this is not fun to admit)—thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think. Internally I wrestled with thoughts about someone in the Body of Christ, someone to whom God has allotted her own, individual, unique, God-given measure of faith. Why does she do things that way?! Why can’t she communicate like I do?! Things would go more smoothly if only she would …

According to the Scriptures, I was not thinking so as to have sound judgment. Arrogance is not sane.

As meditation is inherent in memorization, I began to think about this. I continued with the rest of the chapter:

And just as we have many members in one body, and all the members do not have the same function; so we, who are many, are one Body in Christ, and individually members of one another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly…

(Romans 12:4)

Somehow it’s supposed to help with realism and humility (not thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think) if I consider how God has gifted each of us differently.

She and I are different, just as all the members of one body are different—all the body parts don’t have the same function. An eye cannot walk. A hand cannot taste.

In the Body of Christ, one person cannot do what another can—and this is for everyone’s benefit. By God’s design and intent, it is good for me to have a lack. Many lacks. “Deficiency” is beneficial. Pride thinks I am better. Humility understands I am not.

I did reach my goal of memorizing the chapter in two days. But God had accomplished His purposes, too. He corrected me into humility and gave me a better love and appreciation for others in the Body.

On top of all that, I got a great prize . . .

monkey lamp photo

. . . to remind me that the Word of God is a light to my path.

This Thursday Bonnie Gray hosts a community of those who share about a verse containing the word “faith.” Click on the FaithBarista badge below to read more posts on faith!



9 thoughts on “The Benefit of Deficiency

  1. That’s beautiful Monica! I love how God uses your competitiveness to speak his word into your heart. I tend to shy away from strongly competitive people (because they just want to beat me and I’d never win!) but then I realized I can do what God does and use their competitiveness against them. I challenged one to record 1000 gifts and she’d get a prize (I gave her Ann’s book). It didn’t matter that she beat me, I just bought two books!

    As to the lesson of different parts of the body…my mother told me this as she lay dying of breast cancer. “I never suffered,” she said, “and so I judged people too strongly, thinking they had the same strengths I did and just weren’t using them.” I’m so glad she told me so that I can be free of following in that way. She was strong and loving and wise and yes, competitive!

  2. Is that a monkey head on that lamp for the feet? I love it.

    Scripture memorization is something I have never had a lot of confidence in. This year I’ve been working on memorizing the book of Colossians with Ann V’s community and it has changed the way I see memorization. I never thought I could do it. Slow and steady, I’m working my way through. Two days? Too much pressure for me! But just as you describe here, each verse has its own special message for me.

    How are you doing, friend? I’ve fallen behind on my correspondence and found myself missing you tonight. Just to say hello and I’m thinking of you.

  3. It is good for all of of us to have a lack, because it reminds us who our Lord is and encourages dependence upon him. Good post, Monica.

  4. I can barely keep my mind focused. I memorize in pieces whereas I get teh gist of the message and can tell someone about it, but word for word defeats me. I can’t keep my mind stationary. It seems to like tangents.

  5. That verse — “each a measure of faith” — suggests that it is measured out to us in different “quantities.” I’ve often wondered why I don’t get caught up in all the great theological controversies — from creationism to Rob Bell’s book. I’ve had moments of doubt, but they’re generally short. I think what’s been going on is that measure of faith business — and I think I’ve been blessed more than I have any right to expect.

    Good post, Monica.

  6. Wonderful verse! I love “measure of faith”, Monica. Very insightful – so happy you shared this in the jam!

    btw, I have that competitive streak too. We will want to be on the same “team” if we ever play board games.. :) Watch out everyone. LOL.

  7. Pingback: Good Thing I Can’t Do Everything | Know-Love-Obey God

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