These are great scriptures written by Paul who was quoting Jesus in much of what he wrote. There are a few verses that I wasn’t able to teach on this past Sunday that are very important for us to take the time and ponder on and make part of our spiritual foundation:
Romans 12.15 Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.
This verse is written in the second section of these set of Romans verses, the section that teaches us how we are to respond/react to the people who do not believe in Jesus. God wants us to be able to identify with people, both believers and unbelievers in their joys and sorrows. As we try to do this, we become aware of our sin areas. For instance:
1. Are we stretched to be happy when others achieve what we haven’t achieved? Are we genuinely happy or are we jealous, envious, or discontent?
2. Do we get frustrated with those who are sorrowful and want to push away their suffering because it’s uncomfortable for us?
How we respond to others when they are happy or suffering really can indicate where we are spiritually and where we need the Holy Spirit to change us. In other words, one way to immediately show if our heart is in the right place is to see if we can identify with another’s blessings or sufferings. For Paul, love is not a warm, fuzzy feeling but an action. Are we able to be happy with those who are happy and sad along with those who are sad?
Romans 12.16-18 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Paul was writing this to the Christians who lived in Rome who understood what it was like to live with the constant threat of dissention and even violence. How were they to live peacefully in a war zone surrounded by enemies? First, Paul commands that we believers are to live in harmony with one another. Literally the word “harmony” in the Greek is a picture of a symphony playing beautiful music together. Each type of instrument is different but plays in a way that blends well with the other instruments. The whole produced is better than any one instrument separately.
Paul goes on to say that a major obstacle to this unity is our pride and he urges believers to avoid thinking we’re always right and to make friends with those who are humble so that we can learn to be in unity. Then, Paul continues by telling we believers to take responsibility for all that we can do to bring peace; let that be our first priority and our major goal. But Paul is realistic—and we must be realistic too. I want desperately for all people to live peacefully together—people, countries, etc. etc. This is actually been very hard for me to accept, but we may not be able to live with everyone in peace on this earth. Even if we try all that we can do to reconcile. Some problems will not be solved on this earth. Our responsibility is to make sure that we are at peace and doing all that we can to bring peace. Can we accept that and let the Holy Spirit handle the stress and discord?
As I meditated on these scriptures over and over again, I was able to abbreviate Paul’s 24 commands to 7 overall commands for the believer:
1. Love each other sincerely with action.
2. Be boiling hot in our worship of God.
3. Be generous to the family of God.
4. Do not take revenge and bless your enemies.
5. Be sympathetic and joyful with others
6. Be at peace with everyone as much as you can
Paul’s Overall Conclusion
7. Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good
This list doesn’t take the place of all the wonderful things that Paul said in Romans 12.9-21, but it makes it easier for us to get the flow of what Paul was saying. If you want to get more out of Paul’s verses, continue to soak in them for several days as the Holy Spirit reveals things to you. I’d love to hear about what God shows you!