“Live in harmony with one another.”
Discuss what it means to live in harmony in a general sense and also within the church.
Let’s look at the context. Read Romans 12:14-21.
Our context gives us several examples, some not easy to do, of living in harmony. What are they?
What things are listed in this passage that could impede harmony? How could they destroy harmony?
verse 14: Tells us how to deal with our enemies. Here Paul is borrowing directly from the teachings of Jesus (Matt 5:44)
verse 15: Gives us specific examples of how to live in harmony with other believers.
If someone is rejoicing, don’t be envious, but rejoice with them.
If someone is grieving, share their burden.
verse 16: Some other ways to live in harmony include humbling our pride, not being vain, and being able to associate with people from various social classes.
Philippians 2:1-4 also addresses these three issues.
verse 17: Do not retaliate. Why not? Because retaliators are trespassers.
Why are they trespassers? Because they are appointing themselves to a role that belongs solely to God.
(Hebrew 10:30) Not only is retaliation a form of trespass on God’s territory, it is also a form of unbelief. It says that I don’t believe that God will be fair in judging this wrong, so I had better get involved in ensuring that justice is done.
verse 18: Let’s tie this verse in with the second half of verse 17. Do your best to do what is right. Even unbelievers have some sort of damaged sense of right and wrong. We should try not to offend anyone’s sense of right and wrong, provided we don’t cross the line of offending God’s standard of right and wrong. You should do all that is within your power to live harmoniously with both believer and unbeliever without disobeying the Word of God.
Will this always result in a harmonious relationship? No, but you are only responsible for your honest effort. The other person is responsible before God for his or her reaction.
verse 19: The government has a duty to execute justice (see Romans 13:1-7), but they do this as an agent of God. Their authority is derived from God not from any human institution. Don’t get back at someone because to do so results in sin. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” is a correct statement.
verse 20: Do good to your enemy, and not in a begrudging manner. To do so will prick his conscience. He will wonder why someone returned him good rather than evil, and it will be a testimony to him.
verse 21: What does it mean to be overcome by evil or to overcome evil with good? Evil overcomes us, not in what it does to us by hurting us, but in how we respond to it, or to those who perpetrate it against us. The only way to overcome evil is by doing good in return. The Christian should not be one to demand his/her rights every time offended. Look at the example of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion and the martyrdom of the saints.