Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (17) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.Romans 12:16-18
The mistake that we can make in interpreting this passage of scripture is to interpret each sentence as separate statements that are unconnected items. It comes across as a list. But these sentences flow out of the context of the passage. These statements are the commands of the Holy Spirit of how we are to live as He transforms are thinking and behavior.
- “Be of the same mind one toward another”– There is a unity of mindset as believers put God and each other ahead of themselves. It doesn’t mean uniformity in every preference or circumstance. It does mean a unity in the Lord and submission to each other.
- “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.”- The word “high” here means “esteemed”. The idea is not to look at the things that are esteemed in this world and judge men exclusively by those things. The person with the sharp clothes and the big business is not more valuable or more loved by God than the person with lower means. The person who has more is not automatically a bad or greedy person because they have more. Those human distinctions should not govern the way that we view each others value.
- “Be not wise in your own conceits”- Don’t let the way you view things be your only perspective. Try to see things from God’s point of view.
- “Recompense to no man evil for evil.” – The heart of the Christ follower is not to extract revenge on anyone that does us wrong. The right response is the response of forgiveness. Forgiven people forgive.
- “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”- The idea here is to give regard for that which is good and honest in a public way. We honor good things wherever they are found, especially knowing that both our brothers and sisters in Christ and the lost world see how we respond.
- “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”- Though this local body of believers were likely to be persecuted, maligned, and socially marginalized for their commitment to Christ, the admonition is to try to be at peace even with those who hate them. If there was a way to get along they, and we, are supposed to find that way.
These items are at the next level of authentic love for those around us. Why? Because they speak not just of loving those with which we have values and priorities in common. They also speak to loving those around us who do not share our values and who set themselves against us. The only way that this kind of love happens in and through us consistently and genuinely is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
Like yesterdays question, which of these responses do you need to implement today?