Live in Harmony!
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6
This prayer is a short little prayer that Paul prays right after he was instructing the Romans on how they should treat each other. He had just taught them of the example that Jesus gives us in that Jesus did not come to earth to please himself. Jesus came to be a servant. We know that. He did not come to set himself on a pedestal but he walked among common people, people who sometimes didn’t always see things clearly. Well that could be all people couldn’t it? What Paul is saying in the verses preceding the prayer is the we as Christians have an obligation to build each other up.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1
At first glance that almost sounds like we are supposed to recognize and excuse our weaker brothers and sisters, whether they are in Christ or not. But when I read the commentary for a clearer understanding it says that the actual word for bear here is not the idea of “bearing with” but in “bearing up”. If we are a stronger Christian than our brother or sister, we are not to look down on them, so to speak, but we are to support them and to let our talk, our lives, our ways direct them toward Christ.
“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:2
Simply put we are to put our neighbor first. Not just to please others but to do what is good for others in order to build them up. Have you ever been around those people who just seem that they have a need to tear someone else down? That is not how we are supposed to be as Christians. Paul is instructing the Romans, and instructing us, by this passage that we are to think of others just as Christ came and thought of others and that we are to support our friends and neighbors, especially those in Christ, in order to build up each other in the faith. Let me put it this way. If you are a Christian and you are constantly tearing down other people, how is that going to make the “weaker” Christian feel about being a Christ follower?
And this brings us to the prayer. Paul gave the Romans this instruction, but he didn’t just leave it there. By praying this prayer he was also recognizing that a lot of this goes against human nature and it has to be the work of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. When we pray this prayer for ourselves and for our church, we are recognizing that left on our own, we are more likely to tear each other down than to build each other up. Our goal as the Church, the one we attend, as well as the global church, all believers collectively, should be to glorify God. We can’t do that if we are tearing each other down within our church walls or if we are tearing down other churches. That’s where we should live in harmony with each other. Sure we may not agree with someone in our church as to what color the carpet should be or whether there are drums, but we should be able to live in harmony over who Jesus is and what our purpose as a church is, to glorify God. We may not agree with the way the church down the road worships. They may sing praise and worship and we sing hymns and southern gospel, but the purpose of both churches is to glorify God and because of that we can live in harmony. Our human tendency may be to tear down, so let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us to live in harmony so that we can build up instead.