Be of the Same Mind Toward One Another
BE OF THE SAME MIND TOWARD ONE ANOTHER
“Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:16-18).
This list of exhortations occurs in a passage that emphasizes both the diversity and the unity that exist in the church—many members possessing different gifts, yet exercising them toward one noble purpose. A family is a collection of unique individuals who are different from anyone else, yet each is a valued part of the family. Similarly, an organization consists of many different people assigned different tasks, yet each one is essential to fulfilling the mission of the group.
The body of Christ is likewise a diverse group of folks from different social and economic backgrounds, from different cultures and ethnicities, of different races, seeing things from different perspectives, and endowed with different abilities. Yet we are one body, sharing the same salvation, the same hope, and the same purpose. Such unity is possible because of our common commitment to the gospel and to one another.
Paul’s call to be of the same mind toward one another is preceded by words about sharing one another’s joys and tears. Our feelings toward one another are so deep that, no matter what others are going through, we will be concerned. But it involves more than mutual empathy. Being of the same mind toward one another indicates a reciprocal mindset that promotes harmony. One version translates it, “Live in harmony with one another.” This happens when we have in mind for others the same things that, under similar circumstances, we would want for ourselves. We believe what is good about one another, trust one another, and assume the best about one another, always granting others the same generosity of mind that we would choose for ourselves. It’s ultimately an application of the Golden Rule.
There is no place here for high-mindedness or vain ambition. Focusing too much on things like privilege or position can cause us to lose sight of the truly important. We ought to be as much at home with humble tasks and circumstances as the Lord was. Paul’s exhortation is that we not be so influenced by differences in position or honor, that they become the basis of how we esteem one another. If we desire the same things for others that we do for ourselves, we will not withdraw ourselves from the lowly. There should be no partiality or respect of persons in the family of God. Distinctions based on social, economic, racial, or other differences must never be allowed to disrupt our ability to live, work, or worship together in harmony.
Living in harmony requires that we not esteem our own judgment too highly. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously. None of us is so smart that we cannot learn much from others. Being of the same mind toward one another demands that we not be wise in our own eyes.
There can be no place for vindictiveness. The presumption behind Paul’s warning is that in any family, organization, or church, circumstances will arise that cause hurt—unkind words, hurtful actions, harsh attitudes, or worse. Those things should not happen, but they do. Our place in such cases is never to pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Our efforts at harmony and peace should extend to all people. And of course, peace with others is sometimes beyond our control. But we should take seriously the admonition to be sure that we have done everything that is right, and all that is within our power, to be at peace with all men.
Because these matters can ultimately reflect on our character, we must always be mindful of what is right and honorable in the sight of all men. How our neighbors regard us and our message is deeply impacted by our conduct and our interactions with one another.