In our “One Another” Series, we are exploring several passages that help us discover the fullness of Christ’s commands toward each other as the Body of Christ. When we have intentional, intimate relationships with one another, we can fully live out what God intended for His people. And many of the blessings God has given us are only fully realized in communion with each other.
This “One Another” statement – “Be in agreement with one another” – comes from Romans 12:16. I took this verse from the HCSB version, but would like to also show you the Amplified version and then the Message version just to give you an overall better understanding of what being “in agreement” here is referring to. Some other translations say to “Live in harmony/peace”. However, I think that using that phrasing leads us to think of something other than what is being taught here.
HCSB: "Be in agreement with one another. Do no be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation."
Amplified: "Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself."
Message: "Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody."
As you can see by these translations/versions, the point is not to simply “go along” with others. The point is to see that we all have the same value and worth as the “lowest” and “highest” of those within the Body. Paul’s teachings in this passage relate to a believer’s reactions to the actions and emotions of others. We should be able to empathize with others. Being in harmony with other Christians is basic to being able to empathize with them. And as we talked about in “Love One Another”, both of the commands Jesus gives us exhort us to LOVE God and LOVE people. The kind of love that Paul is talking about here is not a passive thing. It involves aggressive reaching out to care for others. And when we are “wise in our own estimation”, we make empathy impossible.
Our value and worth rely fully on Christ Jesus. It is only in Him, by Him, and through Him that we have any value and worth concerning the Kingdom of God. And if we have experienced God’s grace, we will want to pass it on to others. Remember: grace is undeserved favor. We do not deserve God’s pardon from punishment. However, when He bestows grace upon us, our value goes from unworthy to worthy of being in His presence and in right relationship with Him. And the same goes for each other. Don’t think that others are unworthy to be in your presence. Don’t think of yourself as better than anyone. We are to think of ourselves as on the same level as each other. If we esteem others lowers than ourselves, we are being haughty.
Haughty is one of those words that I had to look up when I first came across it in the beginning of my relationship with God. I began (and continued) to read the King James Version. And one day while reading, I came across the verse in Proverbs 16:18 that says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” According to Merriam-Webster here is what haughty means: ‘blatantly and disdainfully proud : having or showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior.’ The word in this definition that stands out the most to me as being a word to replace haughty that means the same thing is “proud”, as in the “attitude of superiority” meaning of ‘proud’.
There is another Proverb cementing the correlation between ‘haughty’ and ‘proud’. It is Proverbs 21:24, which says, “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride (ESV). Notice here the man’s characteristic ‘haughty’ and how he acts “with arrogant pride“.
So bringing this back to the verse in Romans, we can see that our own perception of ourselves in relation to others should not be higher than anyone. If we find ourselves doing so, we are acting in “arrogant pride”. And we read in Proverbs 16:18, what comes after pride is destruction, and what comes after a haughty or arrogant, prideful spirit is a fall. We will be humbled in one way or another, and this is because the overall principle remains that we are all on the same level as each other. When we begin to puff ourselves up, it will be brought to our attention that we are all on the same level, and we may have the wind knocked out of us as though we’ve fallen.
I will delve into the next “One Another” in relatively the same way as this one with a few important additions. Stay tuned for that one coming up in about a week.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..