Romans 12:16

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

August 11, 1999

Introduction

Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things.  Heís been telling the church in Rome how they are a "body", and like a body, they are each an individual part of it, with each part having a unique and different function. Itís when we all learn to do our "part", that the church is healthy.

We now move into a section where talks about our obligations to each other, both the things we ought to be doing as well as the attitudes we need to have with each other.

:16 Be of the same mind one toward another.

mind Ö mind Ė phroneo Ė to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

"the same unto one another be minded"

(Rom 12:16 NIV) Live in harmony with one another.

Lesson

Work at harmony.

My pastor, Mark Bove, always says that itís a miracle when more than two people can get along for any period of time.

We are sinful people with wicked hearts, and itís not too hard for us to hurt each other. But for us to live in "harmony", it takes work.

Jim Cymbala in his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, writes (pg.160),

"One Sunday about 20 years ago, back in our days in the YWCA, I said something impromptu while receiving new members into the church that has stuck with us ever since. People were standing in a row across the front before me, and as I spoke, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt me to add, "And now, I charge you, as pastor of this church, that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone Ė myself, another pastor, an usher, a choir member, or anyone else Ė you have authority to stop that person in mid-sentence and say, "Excuse me Ė who hurt you? Who ignored you? Who slighted you? Was it Pastor Cymbala? Letís go to his office right now. He will get on his knees and apologize to you, and then weíll pray together, so God can restore peace to this body. But we will not let you talk critically about people who are not present to defend themselves."

"New members, please understand that I am entirely serious about this. I want you to help resolve this kind of thing immediately. And meanwhile, know this: If you are ever the one doing the loose talking, we will confront you."

To this very day, every time we receive new members, I say much the same thing. It is always a solemn moment. That is because I know what most easily destroys churches. It is not crack cocaine. It is not government oppression. It is not even lack of funds. Rather, it is gossip and slander that grieves the Holy Spirit."

Lesson

All about gossip.

1. Gossip is fun.

(Prov 26:22 NASB) The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, And they go down into the innermost parts of the body.

(Prov 26:22 NLT) What dainty morsels rumors are--but they sink deep into one's heart.

Itís attractive. Thereís something alluring to hear some secret or special news about another person.

Thereís a sense of power in gossip. You are someone who is "in the know". People will listen to you because youíll tell them the "whole story".

Sometimes we can start off innocently enough, desiring to know whatís wrong with a certain person. But there are times that we simply donít need to know everything. You donít have to know the whole story to pray.

2. Gossip kills a personís reputation.

Gossip is nothing new. It was even around in Mosesí day.

(Lev 19:16 KJV) Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

(Lev 19:16 NLT) "Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. "Do not try to get ahead at the cost of your neighbor's life, for I am the LORD.

One element of "gossip" is that is will slander another. It will put another person down in the eyes of the person youíre talking to.

"But it was the truth!" you might say. The point is that sometimes we donít need to know everything. To know that a person is struggling and I need to pray for them is fine. To know the details is rarely necessary.

I think another thing to consider is whether you are willing to face the person and say what youíre saying to their face. Gossip always hides in the background where it doesnít have to face up to its claims. If the matter is a serious truth that needs to be said, then it should be said to a personís face, not behind their back.

3. Loving friends keep secrets.

(Prov 11:13 KJV) A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

(Prov 11:13 NLT) A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

In contrast

(Prov 10:12 NASB) Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

(Prov 17:9 NASB) He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

4. Gossip leads to quarrels.

We might think weíre doing our friends a favor by telling them the low down about some person, but weíre really setting the stage for fights and quarrels.

(Prov 26:20 KJV) Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

(Prov 26:20 NLT) Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

5. Gossip ruins friendships.

(Prov 16:28 KJV) A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

(Prov 16:28 NLT) A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

I once knew two brothers who were the best of friends and were in the ministry together at the same church. A third person came in and started spreading gossip about one of the brothers and they ended up splitting over it.

It may not even be gossip about your friend that you are spreading. But when gossip starts, it often makes people choose sides in a conflict, and your friend may choose the opposite side youíre on.

6. Donít hang around with a gossip.

(Prov 20:19 KJV) He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

(Prov 20:19 NLT) A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.

Probably we are all guilty of gossip at some time or another. I know I am. But we need to get a hold of this in the church and stop it. If you believe a friend is starting to tell you something that amounts to gossip, ask them to stop. Tell them you donít need to be hearing this. Stop and pray for the other person. If your friend doesnít want to stop, then change friends.

:16 Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.

high things Ė hupselos Ė high, lofty; metaph. eminent, exalted; to set the mind on, to seek, high things (as honours and riches), to be aspiring

low estate Ė tapeinos Ė not rising far from the ground; as a condition, lowly, of low degree; brought low with grief, depressed; lowly in spirit, humble

condescend Ė sunapago Ė to lead away with or together; metaph. to be carried away with; to yield or submit one's self to lowly things, conditions, employments: not to evade their power

Lesson

Hang with the "uncool".

Iím sure there are lots of ways this verse could be applied, but it seems to me that in our culture, ever since high school, there have always been the "in crowd" and those on the outside. The "in crowd" is where all the action is happening.

There are some people who just make it their way of life to be constantly seeking to be "in" or "cool". Theyíll walk into a room and immediately determine where the "happening" spot is, and thatís where theyíll head. Theyíll look for the leaders in the room and immediately try to get close to the "inner circle".

This is not the way Jesus lived.

Luke 7:36-50 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. {37} And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, {38} And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. {39} Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. {40} And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. {41} There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. {42} And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? {43} Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. {44} And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. {45} Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. {46} My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. {47} Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. {48} And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. {49} And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? {50} And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Simon had a problem that Jesus felt comfortable around people who were not going to be good for His reputation. He was concerned that Jesus seemed to be a bad judge of character as far as choosing who He hung out with.

The problem is that Jesus knew exactly who He was hanging out with. And He chose to still hang out with them. Jesus wasnít concerned about His image before others, He was concerned about loving those who needed His love.

When the service is over, who will you head for? Who will you make a point to go talk to? Iím not suggesting that you ignore all your friends, but could it be possible that you might spend a few minutes talking and getting to know someone else? Perhaps someone who is hanging out in the back, by themselves?

May I suggest an optional thing for you to do tonight? Could I suggest that some of you consider seeking someone out that you donít normally hang with and ask them how you might pray for them this week? And then pray with them?

Note: If someone you donít normally talk to comes up to you and asks to pray with you, donít assume that they think youíre "uncool"!

:16 Be not wise in your own conceits.

Be not wise Ė phronimos Ė intelligent, wise; prudent, i.e. mindful of one's interests

"Do not have the habit of becoming wise in your own conceits" (Robertson)

Donít be so quick to think that youíre such hot stuff or that you have all the answers. There are times when I think I have all the answers for the world, and then God graciously lets my advice fall flat on its face. I remember talking with someone who was working at buying a house that they had better lock in their mortgage rate because it looked as if rates were going to start climbing. And the next day the rates went down. I donít know everything.

Lesson

You arenít God.

You donít know everything.

(Prov 3:7-8 KJV) Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. {8} It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Itís actually healthy for you to realize that you donít know everything.