Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:16-18
Christians are to live in harmony with one another. There are already so many people who are disharmonious with us because of what we believe. Let’s not fail to live in harmony with at least each other.
He goes on to say, do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. A Christian is not ashamed to be associated with someone of a lower socioeconomic status. There is no upper-class in the kingdom of God. We are all poor in spirit. How are you doing with this, sheep? With whom in your church do you interact? How kind are you to the homeless one who comes to your church? Christ died for you when you were lowly. He has associated with you. May we do the same for others, by His grace.
Paul continues, never be wise in your own sight. He appeals again to the mind. Earlier he said that no one should think of themselves more highly than they ought. Now, he adds that no one should think themselves wise. For it is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of all wisdom. And who that fears the LORD considers himself wise before Him? All wisdom that we do have is from God, and so we have no room to boast on ourselves.
Next, Paul exhorts, repay no one evil for evil. This, again, hearkens back to the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount. It is not our prerogative to take an eye for an eye. Vengeance is the God’s; He will repay.
Instead, we are to give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Notice that Paul doesn’t just tell us to do what is honorable, but to give thought to it. Sometimes, we need to capture our vengeful thoughts first and then think about what to do next to honor Christ, before we act. Our knee-jerk reaction is often wrong.
Lastly, Paul writes, if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Paul is well aware that we can’t force anyone to live peaceably with us. Truth, even when spoken in love and gentleness, divides. So, it’s not our task to make sure we are at peace with everyone. However, we are to do all that we can to live peaceably with all.
That means that we are not to be contentious. For example, there is a way to disagree without fighting. It takes humility, gentleness, and love. And yes, you need to hold your ground. But do it in a way that honors the One who is so humble, gentle, and loving with sinners like you and me.
This also means that, as the Savior teaches, we are to try to reconcile with those whom we are not currently at peace. We are to make every effort at peace, as much as it depends on us.
In summary, here are more marks of a Christian life:
- Live in harmony
- Don’t be haughty
- Never be “wise”
- Repay no evil
- Do the honorable
- Live peaceably
All of this in light of the cross of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.