In the English Standard Version of the Bible, Romans 12:3 says, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” The New American Standard Bible, King James Version, and Holman Christian Standard Bible also contain “measure of faith,” while “measure of faith” is presented as “the faith God has distributed to each of you” in the New International Version and “the faith God has given us” in the New Living Translation.
Right away, two facts are apparent about the “measure of faith”: first, it is the standard by which we correctly appraise ourselves, and, second, it is meted out by God. Because each believer receives his measure of faith by God’s allotment, we are prevented from thinking of ourselves “more highly” than we ought.
Looking at the broader context of Romans 12:3, we notice there is something else given by God. The grace of God is mentioned as a gift to Paul in the same verse, and that same grace is mentioned as a gift to all believers in verse 6: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” So, immediately following his discussion of the measure of faith, Paul speaks of the gifts of the Spirit: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy.
Recognizing that our measure of faith comes from God prevents pride and encourages “sober judgment.” Each of us should recognize the limits of his or her own gifts. At the same time, we must acknowledge the gifts that others possess and that each believer is divinely placed into Christ as a vital and functioning part of His spiritual Body (Romans 12:4–8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27). No member should consider himself or herself as superior to any other but should instead recognize that God has placed us just where He wants us with the gifts He has chosen for us (1 Corinthians 12:11).
God has given to each a “measure of faith” to use for Him. This “faith” is the gift from which all the other gifts flow. Faith is the first gift we receive (for justification), and faith is the gift that brings the other gifts of the Spirit into our lives. When a person is born again, God gives him gifts as a new member of the family of God. We receive the gifts according to the measure that God has given us, and we exercise the gifts according to the same measure of faith.
“To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Ephesians 4:7). God deals to everyone his portion. Not everyone receives all the gifts, nor is the same gift given to everyone in the same measure. Our sovereign God distributes each gracious gift according to the measure of faith that He has bestowed on us.