Romans 12:16

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12:16

The first part of this verse has several possible interpretations. One is that we should empathize with one another. A second possibility is that believers should be agreed in their opinions about matters. A third possibility is that believers should seek the same thing for others that they seek for themselves. Based on the translator, one will inevitably get a different meaning. To “be of the same mind” is to show unity of mind regardless of the overall intent behind the words.

After that, Paul says that we shouldn’t set our minds on high things. The purpose of his words here are that we shouldn’t strive for what is considered of worldly importance. Seeking after wealth will only bring troubles (see 1 Timothy 6:10, for example). Looking to be around the famous is a dead end street as well. The majority of famous people live by the world’s standards and therefore our attention can only get misdirected from what is right and honorable. Further, when attempting to get into the presence of royalty or fame, we may find ourselves shamed in the process. This is well reflected in Proverbs 25:6, 7 –

“Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of the great; For it is better that he say to you, ‘Come up here,’ Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.”

Instead of looking for fame and to the famous, Paul instructs us to “associate with the humble.” With humble people, there is no pretence, favoritism, or arrogance. Instead, there is the calm life of one who understands his position and acts without contempt for others. In the end, associating with such a person is far more pleasing and uplifting than the constant maneuvering of seeking high society.

The verse finishes with, “Do not be wise in your own opinion.” This fits nicely with the thought of Romans 12:3 which says one should not attempt “to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” Whether it is regarding matters of faith, industry, innovation, strength, or some other ability, it was given by grace and it can end in a fleeting moment. Strong men will grow weak, invention will become passé, agility will cease with age, etc. As surely as strawberries are sweet, once we start acting wise in our own opinion we will be humbled. Rather than following this avenue, Solomon gives this advice in Proverbs 3:5-8 –

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.”

In the end, acknowledging the Lord, acting humbly, associating with the humble, and having unity of mind with other believers is a far better approach. It will lead to a much fuller life and one which is destined for heavenly rewards as well.

Life application: Humility is something which is in short supply in our society, but it is a treasure which will pay heavenly rewards. When arrogance steps in, there is no room for exalting the Lord, so be humble and set your eyes on that which will be pleasing to your heavenly Father.

O gracious God, at times, I get the feeling that I’m pretty great stuff. But as soon as that kind of thought shows up, I remember that I’m not. I’m no better than others and I was saved by Your grace alone. Help me to act humbly, speak with meekness, and redirect lofty opinions of self to Your exaltation, not mine. May my life be one which glorifies You O God. Amen.

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