MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: Live in harmony Romans 12:14-16
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another.
Most problems in the church, in family, at your job, and anywhere when it comes to infighting begin with words. Something is said negatively about you, or perhaps it’s the way someone spoke to you: their tone or their demeanor. However it started, when it finally comes to you, and how you should respond to those things said about you or to you, or done to you - is to bless instead of curse. Certainly this is not an easy thing to do. Who in their nature wants to bless someone who is cursing you? Who wants to keep a tight rein on their tongue when someone else is going off on you? And yet Paul says, bless. Bless those who persecute you. I used to think that this was done by saying something nice when someone else was saying something mean, and I guess that’s a possibility, but it might come off sarcastically if you have a hard time meaning it in the heat of the moment. Perhaps it means that you seek to bless and do something nice for someone who has hurt you. It must be a strange thing to receive a gift from someone you have purposefully hurt with words or actions. However you choose to bless, the command is given not to curse.
It is interesting that this command is given right after the command is given to bless and not curse. Perhaps Paul is trying to teach us something about connecting with people who you are having relational problems with. If there is an opportunity to weep with them, while they are weeping, or to rejoice with them in their joy, perhaps that is one way to connect. Whatever the reason Paul puts this verse here, it shows us the nature of love that we are to have to all men and women. We should be willing to share in their hurt and in their pain, as well as in their joy. Some churches are friendly to visitors, but they don’t always do life with each other. Part of becoming a church family is this - we rejoice when our people rejoice, and we weep when they weep. Many people have left the faith based on such things. Perhaps it isn’t right for them to leave, but everyone wants to feel like someone cares deeply. How can we show that we do? Sit and weep with them by the hospital bed. Rejoice with them when a new child is born. This is what it means to be family. We are there, present, sharing in their pain and joy.
As we analyze the Greek phrase that has been translated in English “to live in harmony”, we realize an exact rendering would be “to understand and to adopt a thinking that is similar”. The phrase doesn’t really mean that we are to try and become just like that person, but we are commanded to try and understand things from their perspective, walk a mile in their shoes, and live in harmony with them. Harmony is a musical term. Usually in church we all sing the melody, but some of the folks that have been in choir for awhile, they’ll find a harmony just above or below the melody as they sing along beside you. Sometimes it’s third above the melody. I love to listen to the harmonies of the African Church in Malawi. It’s different and beautiful often utilizing harmonies that are a fourth above instead of our normal 3rd. Harmony can make a song so beautiful, and certainly more beautiful than just one line of a melody. When believers dwell together in brotherly love, when they bless and do not curse, when they share together in life’s joys and pains - they become a beautiful church. Live in harmony.
Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man on the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a music and youth minister in the Panhandle of Texas. He loves preaching and pastoring on the southside of Sherman. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 17 years, and they have five children. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.