This week we’re going to take a look at seven principles found in Romans 12 which describe the marks of a true Christian. The intent of studying this passage is not to condemn or lead you to comparison. Instead, let Paul’s teaching fill you with a deep, transformative longing to wholeheartedly pursue the life God intends for you. Ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you, to see the grace he’s placed upon your life by the blood of Jesus so that you might walk more fully in the power and anointing of the Spirit. Open your heart to God, and let him do a mighty work in you. He is near to you, ready to mold and shape you into a disciple filled with and fueled by his incredible love. May you discover God’s grace and perspective this week as you examine your life in light of this powerful passage of Scripture.
Harmony in music is this beautiful, fleeting occurrence that most singers and musicians work their entire lives to continuously experience. It requires diligence, patience, humility, and unity between people pursuing the same goal of making beautiful music. And when musical harmony is achieved, it touches not only those singing or playing, but everyone listening as well. Living in harmony with one another in everyday life isn’t too different than musical harmony. For most of us it’s a target just as elusive and fleeting. But like musical harmony, it’s worth fighting for. Like musical harmony, it produces joy and life in those who pursue it and touches those around them. All throughout the New Testament, we find exhortations to live life in unified, harmonious community. Scripture is clear that unity in the body is foundational to the Christian life. So, let’s look more deeply today at how we can grow in unity and open our hearts to the Spirit’s work to fill us with the desire and ability to pursue harmony with one another. Romans 12:16-20 says:
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. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Not only does Paul offer us the important exhortation to live in harmony, but he also provides practical ways to achieve harmony. Romans 12 teaches us that harmony requires humility, grace, the pursuit of peace, not fighting for our own justice, and blessing those who hurt us. What would our communities, churches, and families look like if we all committed ourselves to these virtues? What would your relationships look like if you strived to obey these commands? God doesn’t ask you and me to pursue these virtues; he commands us. It is a command because God knows that pursuing a life lived in harmony with one another will lead us to the abundance of joy, peace, and purpose we are created to experience. As our good Father, he wants his children to experience the peace that can only come from living in harmony with one another.
Not only do unity and harmony provide a better life for all involved, but they also glorify Jesus. Romans 15:5-6 says, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we love each other well and offer grace and forgiveness, we demonstrate Christ’s power to change hearts to the world. When we live in harmony together, we worship with our lives in one beautiful, unified voice. The power of the gospel is that God will always love us in our pride and transgressions, but he doesn’t intend to leave us there. God works in the hearts of his people, knitting them together in harmony like a beautiful tapestry of transformed lives. You and I are written into the pages of God’s beautiful narrative. We have an important place in his eternal story of redemption. Spend time in God’s presence today allowing him to fill you with the desire and ability to pursue harmony with others. Pursue unity with the people God’s placed in your life. And experience transformation in your relationships as God works through you to produce unity and joy.
1. Meditate on God’s command to live in harmony with others.
“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. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.'” Romans 12:16-20
“That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27
2. Humble yourself and ask the Spirit to mold and shape you into a person who lives out the virtues of Romans 12.
“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8
3. Now ask the Spirit for specific ways you can pursue harmony with others. Whom could you invite over for a meal to hear their story? Whom can you bless who has hurt you in the past? Whom could you associate yourself with that the world deems “lowly?” How can you honor that person you always seem to disagree with?
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14
When you remove from yourself the burden of appearances, you will experience a joy and peace that cannot be found in any other lifestyle than humility. Caring what people think is exhausting! Climbing the ladder in your work, society or relationships will never lead you to more satisfaction. There will always be another step to take, always another person to surpass. Choose to pursue harmony, unity and love with those around you. Count them as more significant than yourself. If you will live your life in the pursuit of glorifying God instead of yourself, you will gain more satisfaction in this life than 10,000 lifetimes lived selfishly could produce.
Extended Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31