A solo flute echoes over a the steady rhythm of a classical guitar. A trio of tenor voices crescendo from a strong unison stanza to the culmination of the song and suddenly break out into triads one above the other. The congregation spontaneously finds their parts as the instruments drop out on the chorus of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” All of these powerful musical moments involve harmony.

Harmony makes music beautiful. It also makes the church beautiful and it is how Jesus intends for us to accomplish the task that he left us.

We have been studying some of the “One Another” passages in the New Testament. There are 29 of them all together. Last week we examined that we are Members of One Another. That lesson demonstrated the doctrinal reality that we are connected together in Christ. It is a statement of fact that helps us understand how we are to function together.

Today we continue this theme with the exhortation from Romans 15:5 “live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5–6, ESV)

LAST WEEK we learned that we are Members of One Another, which has to do with our IDENTITY – who we are in Christ as it relates to other believers.

THIS WEEK we are learning what it means to Live in Harmony with One Another, which has to do with our ATTITUDE toward other believers.

I. Spiritual Harmony is Determined by our Attitude.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:1–7, ESV)

The Key phrase that we want to study is contained in verse 5. It is translated in the ESV as “live in harmony.” The NIV uses “Spirit of unity.” NASB “Be of the same mind.” NASB is closest. The Greek word is (phroneo) which means “to regard highly, think much about, to concentrate.” This word is translated other times it is used in the NT with the words “to think, observe, be concerned.”
So the natural question is, “why is a word normally translated “to think” translated here “to be in harmony?” The reason is that the Greek word for “One another” follows the word “to think.” Literally, these two words, when placed together can be translaged “To think together with one another.”

What I get from this is that Jesus wants us to know that harmony in his church is an attitudinal function. In order to function as we should, we need a particular way of thinking.

Romans 15:1-7 parallels Philippians 2:1-4
Notice the parallels. Both passages emphasize our mind set. Both passages inform us how we are to relate to one another as Christians.
1. Have the Mind of Christ
a. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5, ESV)
b. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself.”(Romans 15:2–3, ESV)
2. Live in Harmony
a. “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2, ESV)
b. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,” (Romans 15:5, ESV)
3. Spiritual Unity Glorifies God
a. “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11, ESV)
b. “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7, ESV)

The main purpose of Spiritual Harmony is more than just making for happy Christians….

II. Spiritual Harmony Makes the Gospel Believable.
This is what Jesus meant when he prayed for the Disciples and for us in John 17.
“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11, ESV)
“that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21, ESV)
“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:23, ESV)

Jesus believed that UNITY would demonstrate the reality of the message.
His claim to be the Messiah was validated through his MIRACLES.
The church’s claim to the Truth of the gospel is validated through our UNITY.
Unity is a great miracle!

Jesus also knew that SATAN would interfere with this unity! “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15, ESV)
The Early Church practiced this kind of unity. We find this in the frequent references to unity in the book of Acts. Note that each time the church functioned in unity, there was GROWTH in the church!

Statement of Unity Result
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,” (Acts 2:46, ESV)
“praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47, ESV)

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32, ESV)

“ And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32–33, ESV)
The Church responded when SIN interrupted this unity. Notice that Satan intends sin to destroy our unity, but when the church obeys God in the way we deal with sinning believers, unity and blessing follow.
When Annanias and Syphira sinned in Acts 5 , the Apostle Peter acted in righteousness and the result was that “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,” (Acts 5:14, ESV)

When the church faced a conflict over favoritism being shown in the daily distribution of food (Acts 6), it had the potential to disrupt the harmony of the believers, but instead we discover, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7, ESV)

So even Satan’s plans to disrupt unity will fail when believers follow the Lord’s commands.
III. Keys to a Harmonious Attitude Toward Other Believers
A. Recognize that Harmony is God’s plan!
B. Recognize that God uses Harmony to reach the lost!
C. For us to be in Harmony, we have to Give Up on being FIRST. Leonard Bernstein was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment and then replied, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.” (elbourne.org)

D. Harmony Requires that we Forgive

E. Harmony requires Servant Leadership

F. Harmony requires joyful followership

G. Harmony requires holiness.

Chuck Swindoll wrote:“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

 

Harmony is a result of our attitude.  We determine our attitude.  The choices we make will either create or destroy harmony in the home and in the church.