Interpersonal Success and So Much More!
It’s interesting that this text comes on the day after a group of men from Buffalo Valley had almost an hour long discussion on abortion. Our Saturday morning men’s breakfast group met today and, after consuming some very delicious baked goods from Gable House bakery, had a very healthy and interesting discussion on abortion. There were various opinions in the group and we discussed not only the issue but the value that we cherish in having a group of people who can talk about things about which we disagree, and yet not call anyone names or even have harsh or negative feelings about anyone in the group. I hope that you have a group of people like that in your life, a group of people with differing opinions that you can both speak to and listen to. I think it makes you a more well-rounded person. But it seems like those “days” are diminishing. It seems like political discourse goes quickly to the extremes and to “demonizing” (really, let’s leave the word “demon” for the real demons) one another. But this should not be so for Christ followers. Look at what Paul writes in Romans 12:14-16: “14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 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.”
I wonder if Paul had Jesus’ sermon on the mount in mind when he wrote that first sentence. If you are cursing anyone you are out of line with the Christian ethic. You are to bless everyone, even those who persecute you. You and I have the Holy Spirit ability to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. No one said this was easy…if it was easy we would not need the Holy Spirit’s involvement. Verse 16 reminds us “not to be wise in your own opinion”. I don’t think Paul is saying that every opinion is equally valid. Paul certainly would advocate for truth in His writings. I also think Paul valued the ability to share his own opinion, even in the face of opposition. But don’t be “too wise” in your own opinion. Be open to hearing the reasoning and the stories of others. Treat others with the same respect you wish to be treated…not by those who agree with you but those with whom you disagree. If those who claim to be followers of Jesus would just simply live out the guidance in verses 9-21 of this chapter, our world would be an entirely different place. So start with yourself. Read these verses. Print them and place them in a visible place for you to read, and re-read and be reminded of them. And then live in the power of the Holy Spirit. You will have great interpersonal success…and you can be a part of changing the world!