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Romans 12:16

ESV Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
NIV Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
NASB 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.
CSB Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
NLT Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
KJV 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.

What does Romans 12:16 mean?

Paul has previously commanded Christians to love and honor each other. The command in this verse carries a slightly different idea. Harmonizing with others musically requires each one to adjust his or her own pitch, not to perfectly match each other but to be compatible and pleasant when put together.

Paul is not instructing Christians to all be exactly alike in every behavior and opinion. In chapter 14, he will discuss the fact that Christians will inevitably have matters of differing opinions. Rather, he is commanding believers to adjust to each other in a way that produces pleasantness and order. This requires a level of mutual submission: a willingness to make different choices that will allow us all to get along together.

To live in harmony requires humility from everyone involved. It's not surprising, then, that Paul's next instruction is that we not be haughty or arrogant and stuck up. He makes clear what he means with a follow-up command: associate with the lowly. In other words, don't think of yourselves as being too good to hang out socially with anyone else at all.

One of the reasons Christianity attracted so many followers in its early days was that women and slaves and people of low social standing were all welcome to come to faith in Christ. The result was that people who would never associate anywhere else in Roman culture found themselves in relationship with each other in the church. Paul commands those on the upper levels of society to leave any class rivalry out of the church.

His final command in this verse is that Christians must never be wise in our own sight. This is not the same as saying that we are never wise. The idea is that we should not accept our own opinion as the final word. We submit to the word of God, as well as to the input and ideas of others.
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