In this world there is terrible conflict. It is the way of the world that one person or one group stands opposed to others.
The nature of this world is competition to compete for what is best for the individual. In this day and age in particular the fundamental philosophy of the world is “What's in it for me” and the need to be “taking care of number one”.
But that is not what the Lord seeks. That is not the way of the kingdom of God. It is His desire for mankind to live in harmony with one another as this verse in Romans 12:16 tells us. So this is the lesson to be learned today…how to live in harmony with one another.
Harmony begins with humility. The starting point for harmony is to be humble because a proud person or one who is arrogant is not a team player and thus cannot be in harmony with others.
This verse reads as follows and we see in the second and third parts of the verse that pride and arrogance will stand in the way of any chance of living 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. (Romans 12:16)
Humility is the first thing necessary to be in harmony for the humble person is prepared and willing to listen to others and to consider their needs rather than seeking their own self interest.
As an example, we know that even though a winning sports team may compete strongly against other teams, within their own team they work together. They supply the needs of team mates, utilizing strengths to overcome weaknesses in other and encouraging each other to do the best.
In the family of God we need to show the same attitudes of a winning sports team. We need to use our strengths to help those who are weak, to work with one another for their benefit, to exhort and encourage others, to lift each other up when we are down and to supply each other's needs if we have the means to do so.
This is what harmony is all about. Working together for the benefit of all and considering the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
We see also in this verse some of the things that will get in the way of living in harmony.
As mentioned above, pride will destroy harmony because the proud person is concerned with themselves and their own interests rather than that of those around them.
Note the second sentence of the verse which says, “Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly”.
A haughty person is one who is proud. When we think of people who are haughty, the image of a person who “looks down their nose” at other people. They think they are better than others and that their needs are more important than the needs of others.
They do not associate with the lowly because they think they are better than others.
Pride will never lead a person into the kingdom of God for pride is the mark of satan. It was pride that first separated satan from the kingdom of God and so it is pride that will separate men from God's kingdom also.
God is seeking a people who can live together in harmony with one another. The things that destroy harmony are all of the negatives of human nature, beginning with pride. Anger, aggression, violence, enmity, strife, greed, gossip and any other negative of human nature will destroy harmony because each of these in one way or another divide people. They do not bring people together but instead set one person against another, and this is not the way of God.
The last section of this verse talks about conceit and this is also an attitude of pride and arrogance.
The verse says that we should, “Never be wise in your own sight”.
A person who is wise in their own sight is conceited. They see only their own point of view and listen only to their own counsel. This too is pride.
A person who is wise in their own sight thinks they are always right and the only one who knows the truth of a matter. Clearly they are wrong in such thinking because nobody knows everything. In fact even among experts on any topic you can think of, nobody knows all that can be known about that topic. There is always something more to be learned.
You often hear experts speak about their field of expertise in terms of, “The more you know, the more you realize you don't know or need to know”. But when someone believes they know it all they reject the opportunity to learn and grow.
It is no different for Christians. We all have things to learn and the Lord opens up teachings to us individually as we need to learn. It is said that when we need to learn something the teacher will come along, and that is true of the Christian walk also.
Unless we are prepared to listen to what other people say, we cannot learn. Certainly we must weigh up anything we are told by the words of the bible and the insights that we may already have, but we must not reject anything until and unless it has been tested and found to be false by the testing of the word.
We do not know whether the Lord is teaching us something new unless we are humble enough to listen and prepared to test what we hear. This also is an aspect of harmony for when we listen to other we are working with them.
But the conceited person does not listen. They reject before they can take in the words being spoken to them and so they may be losing the opportunity to learn and grow. More importantly they are rejecting the harmony of God for they reject what the Holy Spirit is teaching when they believe they already know it all.
Let us then reject such thinking. Reject conceit, reject pride, reject arrogance and reject anything that promotes disharmony amongst the brethren. We are being called to live together into eternity with Christ and in harmony with Him and God the Father.
This life begins now for unless we learn to live in harmony now, we may miss the chance to do so later when Jesus returns and establishes His kingdom on earth.
(Picture sourced from freeimages.com provided by Amy Burton)
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