In his 1973 movie, Magnum Force, Clint Eastwood plays San Francisco Detective, Dirty Harry Callahan. In the climatic final scene of the film after Dirty Harry has served up his personal brand of justice against the bad guy, he slyly states, “A man’s got to know his limitations!”
Gratuitous violence and movie context aside, Dirty Harry was laying down some cold hard truth in that statement that can and should be accurately and effectively applied to the life of a believer.
To paraphrase the statement being considered, “A brother’s got to know his limitations.” Apostle Paul put it this way, “I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.”
I think we all can agree that Paul was a heavyweight when it came to the operations of the Spirit and in proper function as it pertained to accomplishing Father’s purposes in the earth. Paul not only proffered such wisdom as the statement above but he obviously learned it by walking out his apostolic calling and function. This is revealed by his statement found in 2 Corinthians 10:13:
“We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us…”
Measure here is the Greek word, Metron and is defined as a boundary or a portioned off measure; a boundary that has been set and should not be crossed. Metron relates the idea that God bestows upon a person a particular measure, a particular gift of Christ’s grace and spiritual influence. Not only does every “leader” have a metron, but every member has an ideal perfect measure that is assigned to them in which to operate. The measure of the grace, function and impact is defined by the boundaries which God has laid down. The indication is that there are parameters within which one should function and should not cross until those boundaries are enlarged or expanded based upon God’s directive and development/maturity in Christ.
In an age when a brother can go “global” by utilizing the internet, blogging, website and social media, it is easy to be tempted to overstep the boundaries of the functional grace apportioned. Many in Christendom have confused spiritual success with the worldly standard of success. According to the Kingdom, bigger is not necessarily better, especially if the quality and nature of something isn’t consistent with the Life and Nature of the King. From what I’ve seen, God tends to go deeper in someone’s life to bring forth a certain quality of BEING before He increases the boundaries of one’s DOING.
The snare that most believers fall into, especially those with a “ministry” calling, is that they actually utilize their metron as a proving ground in order to gain some sense of their identity. Relying solely on gifting, they seek to extend and increase their apparent measure of “spiritual” influence. The detrimental effects of such immaturity can be compounded when an insecure believer who is struggling with their own identity in Christ begins to compare themselves with others who have apparently achieved some modicum of success that they esteem desirable. This is tragic and can result in much harm, not only to the individual but to the Body of Christ that is subjected to such striving. Sad to say, I have experienced situations such as these in person, online and via personal communications. It makes my heart sad.
In 2 Corinthians 10:12-18, Paul exposes this contemptible method of comparison and considers those who operate in such a way as being without proper understanding. He revealed that those who operate in such things recklessly bring about division in the Body of Christ by functioning according to the nature of the flesh and as spiritual infants. Paul’s personal conduct was governed by the fact that he knew who he was in Christ and he knew his “measure” and stayed within set limitations, all the while, receiving others who operated in their metron. Paul understood the Homothumadon of the Kingdom and realized that there IS NO COMPETITION in the Kingdom.
Father draws the lines of our metron for us. In actuality, these are not limitations because He draws lines much broader than we can ever imagine. However, He sets these lines for our own protection and also knows the boundaries that should not be transgressed. Believers must come to realize that the only genuine way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. If a believer is able to first discover identity in Christ, not from DOING but rather from what God has done, there will be a contentment to stay within the metron allotted and the believer will thrive seeing much fruit produced. As a believer is faithful to operate within the parameters of the ascribed metron and personal Christ-like character is developed within, Father will undoubtedly open up more opportunity for function/operation. But, such increase is based upon maturity and not gifting.
Keep your peace!