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Romans 12:15-16

Be Empathic

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

In our last lesson, we said that Paul was moving from relationships within the church to those with the community at large. At first glance these two verses may appear to contradict that idea, because they reflect the same instructions that he had given to other churches concerning their internal relationships (1 Corinthians 12:26; Philippians 2:17-18), but that is not necessarily the case.

It is good for the church's reputation among the community when its members demonstrate a strong empathy with everyone outside the church. Success and good fortunes often invoke feelings of jealousy, envy, suspicion and resentment among a person's neighbors and friends. It is only the rare occasion when someone will rejoice over another's fame and fortune. The community will see the difference when Christians are spontaneously celebrating with those who have received a blessing.

It is also good for community relations when the church feels the pain of those who are suffering. That is why the Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief has been so effective. We should not limit our love and care to those who are inside the church. Instead, let's show the world that Jesus loves everyone, and that we are there to prove it.

"Be of the same mind one toward another." This does not mean that we should be conformed to the world around us. It literally means, "Minding the same things toward one another." We should take an interest in one another, not minding high things, but be willing to go along with the downtrodden of society. We should appear concerned and humble among the people with whom we have to live.

There is no way to win the lost to Christ, if we stay inside the walls of our churches and show no interest whatsoever in the problems and suffering of our fellow citizens. Charity cannot replace the preaching of the word of God, but it can gain us the right to be heard. We must work to gain the trust of our community. Even though they may hate what we have to say and even though they may hate us for saying it, they will listen when they know we care about them.

Finally, we are admonished to, "Be not wise among yourselves" (or "in your own opinion"). We should not be prideful or elitist. This is another call for us to remain humble among our brethren and the community. With this must also come the knowledge that we have no wisdom except what God provides. A humble person must proceed in his work by looking to God for the answers and guidance that he needs. Our neighbors should be able to see that we are not conceitedly relying on our own wisdom when we are attempting to help them.

Doing God's work requires more from us than just learning a few simple verses to lead someone to Christ. We must also work to earn the right to be heard by demonstrating a great deal of empathy toward others, by caring, loving, and humbling ourselves before the masses.

Before The Throne:

Ask yourself, "In what areas of ministry that are mentioned in these verses could I use some improvement." Don't be wise in yourself. Take the answers to God and seek His guidance on how to proceed. Are there areas where you have really messed up? Ask Him to show you how to mend the fences. Also take the time to read His word and search for answers there. In the book of Acts it tells us that the early church was, "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (2:47) This was due to their concern for the welfare of everyone. Ask God to give your church the same effectiveness.

For Further Study:

** Rejoice. Isa 66:10-14; Luke 1:58; Luke 15:5-10; Acts 11:23; 1Cor 12:26; 2Cor 2:3; Phil 2:17-18; 28; ** weep. Neh 1:4; Job 2:11; Ps 35:13-14; Jer 9:1; John 11:19; John 11:33-36; 2Cor 11:29; Phil 2:26; Heb 13:3;

(v.16) ** of the. Rom 15:5; Rom 6:2; 2Chr 30:12; Jer 32:39; Acts 4:32; 1Cor 1:10; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:2-3; Phil 3:16; Phil 4:2; 1Pet 3:8; ** Mind. Ps 131:1-2; Jer 45:5; Matt 18:1-4; Matt 20:21-28; Luke 4:6-11; Luke 22:24-27; 1Pet 5:3; 3John 1:9; Rev 13:7-8; ** condescend Job 31:13-16; Job 36:5; Prov 17:5; Prov 19:7, 17, 22; Matt 6:25, 26; Matt 11:5; Matt 26:11; Luke 6:20; Luke 14:13; Phil 4:11-13; 1Tim 6:6-9; Heb 13:5; Jas 2:5-6; ** Be not. Rom 11:25; Prov 3:7; Prov 26:12; Isa 5:21; 1Cor 3:18; 1Cor 4:10; 1Cor 6:5; 1Cor 8:2; Jas 3:13-17;


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