Be Of The Same Mind
Not Conceited

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 67c of 83


“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” (Romans 12:16).

[We are considering the apostle Paul’s instruction to believers to seek to live in harmony with one another. In this final instalment we must consider Paul’s third statement on the subject. —JJL]

3.  Be Not Wise in Your Own Conceits

That is to say: Do not be wise in your eyes. Do not think that you know best, and your opinion is the most valuable.

Now, it is true that you may indeed have been much gifted by the Lord so that you are wiser and more prudent than many others in the church. And we must all thank God that He has brought you into the church. Your contributions to the life and ministry of the church is invaluable.

However, the church must function as a body. Every part of the body is important. And so it is essential for each of us to be ready and willing to fellowship with everyone else in the church, including those who are less capable or are of lower estates than us.

We must not brush aside their opinions. We must not think lowly of them.

Indeed, as the disciples of Christ, it is required of all of us to humble ourselves that we may serve one another.

Remember how our Lord stooped to wash His disciples’ feet (Jn 13:5; 14:35). He did so in order to show us that brotherly love towards one another cannot be without lowliness.

Writing to the Philippians, the apostle Paul urges them:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil 2:3).

True Christian fellowship cannot exist without lowliness. We cannot truly love one another unless we esteem one another better than ourselves and so learn to wash one another’s feet.

Or let me put it this way: We will never find ourselves loving others and being willing to fellowship with them as long as we are wise in our own conceits. The point is: how do you esteem others better than yourself, and so wash their feet, and so truly love them, if you think that you are the best and have no need of them.

We are members one of another. We must depend upon one another. We are obligated to one another. Therefore, “Be not wise in your own conceits.

You must always be prepared to see that your ideas have flaws, and you may not be able to see as clearly as others.

Now, as an elder in the church, I have to make decisions in the Session. And ever so often I suggest something which I think to be wise and excellent, but when the Session deliberates about it, things that I never considered are brought up, and sometimes I feel so foolish to have even made my suggestion in the first place. I thank God for the Session for the collective wisdom that comes through it. These decisions are borne out of the Session’s attempt to have the same mind.

Now, in order for the church to grow together in harmony, we must as a whole also grow together to have the same mind. We can achieve that only if we are willing to humble ourselves to see that the opinions of others are often far better than ours.

Now, I am of course, not saying that you must never have a viewpoint or opinion. I am not saying that you should be spineless. But I am saying that you must not be so proud that you refuse to listen to what others have to say. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” says Solomon (Prov 26:12).

If we will all humble ourselves and learn to receive the opinions of others in the church meekly, then we will grow together to be of the same mind on anything.

What does it mean to receive the opinions of others?

It means firstly, learning not to insist on your way if the thing in dispute is not a very important one. Does it really matter if the dishes are distributed or if the members help themselves? You may have an opinion on what is better, but if someone else has a strong opinion about it, can you not give in? Does it really matter that things be done in your way?

But secondly, receiving the opinions of others does not mean that you must always give up your own opinions. There are times when you must stand your ground. But if you must do so, it must be after you have given careful consideration to the opinions of others.

And even if you must stand your ground, you must seek to do so in a way that shows your love and honour for one another. This means that you must not harshly contradict or criticise one another.

You must seek to keep unity between one another in a bond of peace.

You must persuade and convince gently so that as far as possible, a conclusion which is generally agreed by all is reached.

I believe this is very possible if we are not wise in our own conceits and are willing to humble ourselves to give and take.

Conclusion

Think of the church to which you are a member. Everyone is so different. Everyone has a different background, character, disposition, understanding and maturity level. Everyone has been assigned different gifts and abilities. Everyone has a role to play that the church may bring glory to Christ her king and be a source of blessing to each other.

You are not excepted. Will you not make it a point to seek to contribute to the bond of love and of truth in the church that Christ has placed you in.

Paul says to the Philippian church:

“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil 2:2; cf. 3:16).

May I say the same to you? May I urge you to have the same mind by each seeking to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and seeking to imitate Christ?

May I urge you to humble yourself as Christ humbled Himself to fellowship with and lay down His life for those who do not deserve His love?

Oh, if all of us will be like Christ, then the Church of Christ will be a powerful witness for Christ and we will all enjoy a foretaste of heavenly fellowship that we will one day enjoy in heaven!

Today our fellowship will inevitably be fraught with imperfection; but let us not give up. Let us play our part. Let us seek to cultivate the blood-bought bond by seeking to be of the same mind one with another. Amen.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim