Spend the week studying Romans 12:3-8. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Who you are in Christ is your true identity.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Last week your group discussed three core questions in life: Who am I? Where do I belong? What am I supposed to do? These questions speak to our desire to find true identity, community and purpose in life. You also discussed the barriers sin creates that keep us from answering these questions. These barriers include: fear rooted in shame, hiding rooted in insecurity and blame rooted in denial.
This week you will focus on the first question, “Who am I?” Answering this question first is essential, because it informs the way you answer the other ones. If you don’t know who you are, how will you know where you belong? Or what you should do with your life?
Some may say, “I know this question is important, but how do I even start to answer it?” That’s a great question. Thankfully, the Bible tells us our true identity rests in who we are in Christ. This truth unlocks others and helps us understand who we are, who God is and what difference it makes in how we think, live and relate to others.
When do you find yourself asking the question, “Who am I?” Are there certain situations or relationships that make you ask this question?
What might happen if you try to answer the last two questions before answering the first one?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
In Romans 12:2 Paul tells his readers to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. What does God do with a renewed mind? He gives clarity and understanding, which is something we need to answer the question, “Who am I?”
In vv.3-8 Paul gets practical. He tells believers not to think too highly of themselves. Paul knew the dangers of an inflated ego, and he didn’t want division among believers because of it. Therefore, he tells his readers to assess their gifts and how they function in the church with humility.
If you don’t have a right perspective of yourself, you’ll resort to one of two things: 1) self-boasting or 2) self-loathing. Either of these extremes will cause you to miss your true identity and how God can use your gifts for His purposes. Instead, you should consider how your gifts bless others and contribute to unity in your community.
Describe ‘humility’ in your own words. What does it look like when it’s lived out?
How can self-boasting and self-loathing cause you to miss your true identity?
True identity in Christ
Paul believed right thinking would lead to right living. However, he doesn’t reduce the Christian life down to a list of dos and don’ts. Paul spent Romans 1-11 establishing a foundation of belief about who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us for a reason. He wanted to show us where our true identity lies. How we think and what we do as believers always comes back to Jesus.
Why do you think it’s common for people to think being a Christian is following a list of dos and don’ts? How would you respond to someone who felt this way?
Read Romans 12:3-8 as a group. Split the group into pairs. Have each person explain to the other Paul’s message in his or her own words. After this, ask and respond (in pairs) to the question, “What is God telling me through this passage?”
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
5 truths to change the way you think
Too often Christians think their identity in Christ is found in what they do. So they serve more, work harder, try to live right and stop sinning. Are these things bad in themselves? No. But thinking this way can easily lead to believing your identity and worth are determined by your performance.
If you don’t know who you are in Christ, chances are you’ll try to prove your worth to God and others. But, because of Jesus, God already sees you as worthy and loved. Knowing who you are in Christ frees you to live and serve, not to prove something, but to show something—that you are a child of God saved by grace. If your thinking needs some readjusting, consider the following truths and how they can help change the way you think:
God has made me beautiful in His sight. I was born into the world with a combination of personality, skills and gifts that are God-given. And no one sees and interacts with the world quite the way I do.
What’s one thing you could do this week to remind yourself that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God?
I am loved and accepted by the One who matters most. Through Jesus God adopted me into His family, where I find true belonging. God’s love for me will never waver or cease.
Where are the places you feel a sense of belonging? How do you experience love and acceptance there?
Because of Jesus, I am counted worthy and righteous in God’s sight. I don’t need to do anything to earn God’s favor; I already have it in Jesus. As a new creation with new desires and abilities, I can live my life to please God and serve others.
Have you ever struggled with feelings of inferiority or unworthiness? How did that affect your relationship with God and others?
I have a Father who knows me and cares for me. I can find my rest in Him, because I trust that He hears me when I call to Him and answers my every need. No matter what happens to me, I know that my salvation and future are secure in Christ.
What’s the difference between a relationship where you feel secure and one where you do not?
God has given me His Word and the Holy Spirit to carry out His purposes for my life. I have everything I need to live a good life that pleases God. Regardless of where I am in my relationship with God, He is always working to bring me more in line with His will.
What’s a short, simple phrase you could put to memory that reflects the above truth? Example: “I’m a good work in progress!”
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
An uncommon community
We live in a culture where there is constant pressure to prove your worth and find your identity in your successes and accomplishments. We need to show our culture another way. When the world looks at the church, they need to see an uncommon community that lives differently.
What does it mean to be uncommon? Romans 12:3-8 shows us. To be uncommon is to have a right perspective of yourself and your gifts. To be uncommon is to use your gifts as a way to bring unity into relationships. To be uncommon is to celebrate the gifts and abilities of others. To be uncommon is to find your ultimate worth and identity, not in what you do or accomplish, but in what Christ has accomplished for you.
Where do you personally see the “pressure to prove your worth and find your identity in your successes and accomplishments” in and around you?
What would it look like for your community to be an uncommon one? What would have to change for this to happen?
Praise God for His wonderful, creative power to make you as you are. Pray for a renewed understanding of who you are in Christ. Confess any view of yourself that is too low or too high, and pray for humility to see yourself with a right perspective. Lastly, ask God to make your group an uncommon community grounded in love and unity.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Romans 12:3-8 again and assess whether you see any of these gifts in your life. Consider ways you could share that gift within the Body of Christ.
Ask the group to share anything they learned or experienced this week that helped them get closer to an answer to the question, “Who am I?”
You can’t know who you truly are without humility. It gives right perspective on how to have good, appropriate relationships with God, others and oneself. The Lexham Theological Wordbook describes ‘humility’ as, “generally lowness in status rank or economic means [...] it can also refer to a virtue that involves a modest self-perception. In this sense, it is the opposite of pride and arrogance.” 
Jesus called His followers to live humbly: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Jesus is our greatest example of humility. He describes Himself as ‘humble’ (Matt. 11:27-29); He submitted fully to the Father’s will completely (Luke 22:40-46); He emptied Himself and became a man in order to serve us and give His life at the cross (Phil. 2:1-8).
Body of Christ.
Paul uses the metaphor of a body to refer to the community of believers (the church) in Romans 12:4-5. This metaphor is used multiple times in the New Testament and refers to the corporate identity, unity and function of God’s people:
Identity | Christ is the Head of His church, and believers are the body (Col. 1:18). Christ leads His church and sustains it by His power.
Unity | There are no distinctions within the Body of Christ. We are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28). Because of this, believers don’t esteem some and show contempt to others; we are all sinners saved by grace.
Function | Individual parts make up the body, but they function in dependence on other parts. Likewise, believers must be united in order for the Body of Christ to function properly.
The Bible identifies gifts in believers that are empowered by the Holy Spirit and freely given by God for specific purposes as ‘spiritual gifts.’ Paul provides four different lists of spiritual gifts in his epistles (Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Cor. 12:8–10; 12:28; 12:29–30). The overall purpose of spiritual gifts was serving others towards the “common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). Moreover, spiritual gifts show diversity and personality within the church. That being said, one should not consider Paul’s lists as comprehensive. God is far too creative to limit His gifts to those only identified by the apostle.