Some of the most popular songs we remember from our youth had one thing in common – great harmony. When a song has a sonically pleasant sound, with a combination of tones and voices united behind a good melody, it’s easy to listen to. Certain bands were known for their great harmonies. These are the songs we remember well and want to sing along with.
Sweet harmony is memorable.
Sweet harmony can also happen among people. When God’s people learn how to live together in community and get along, it’s a wonderful thing to experience. Even with all the differences among us, God calls us to get along with one another and make memorable music together. Maybe this is the sweetest of harmonies – learning to live well with others.
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” Psalm 133:1 (NLT)
God says we sound better together.
In the New Testament, He tells us exactly what that should look like…
“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 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! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:15–18 (NLT)
As Christians, we are called to relate to others in the Body of Christ. We must associate with others and find reasons to get along, not dissociate from others, and never get along. I know one is much easier than the other, but that’s why we must check our pride. God wants us to keep finding harmony, despite our differences.
You can’t harmonize with others if you are always the disagreeable one.
Some of us must work on this more than others, but it’s worth it. Don’t be that guy who always must be the “contrarian”. Let others have a different view and aim for peace. Harmony takes humility. Let it start with you.
“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.” Ephesians 4:1–6 (NLT)
This kind of living with others is not our natural default. We must work at it. Making “allowance for each other’s faults” will be a daily task and test for us all. Another translation says it this way, “bearing with one another in love”. Christlike, harmonic living is often not much more complicated than that – bearing with others and not giving up on them.
Even the best long-term relationships challenge us to the core. We’ve got too accustomed to a “throwaway” culture where people give up on others and quit good relationships and connections way too soon. One misstep and people look for the exit.
God wants to equip you to deal with different people – and difficult people. He wants you to confront your authority issues and relationship issues. If you discover that “you” have been the difficult one, He will help you change and adapt by the power of His love, not your own.
To be a Christian and never learn how to treat others, is like the guy in the band who ruins the song because he chooses to sing off key, every time. He ruins the harmony. Don’t be that guy.
Christlike harmony will always include these new life rules:
- Don’t compare yourself to others. If you measure yourself constantly against other people, you’ll find yourself proud or riddled with insecurity constantly. Both extremes keep you from working well with others. Everybody is your superior in some way, and vice versa. We all have unique experiences, talents, resources, and backgrounds – but the same Lord. We lean into what unites us and celebrate what is different. To compare yourself with others will keep you out of harmony with others. We are all needed and valuable.
- Be flexible with others. We are funny this way. Once we learn how to do something, we assume that’s the only way to do it and want to close the book forever on future ideas in that area. I’ve seen members of younger generations stifled by my generation more than once, just because we decided there was no way anyone could improve on what we “perfected”. This is pride and it stops harmony. Give others a chance, even if it means getting out of the way so their voice is heard too.
- Forgive others. No one has a perfect track record of behavior. That’s why we all need forgiveness at times and need to forgive others as well. Jesus taught that unforgiveness hinders our faith, our prayers, and our testimony. The more you live in community, the more opportunities you will have to be misunderstood…and misunderstand others. When things go sideways, forgive, and seek harmony. When others offend you, let it go and allow them to move past their mistakes. Making “allowance for each other’s faults” is not easy, but it makes harmony achievable.
You are needed and others need you. Start setting the tone in your own community…your job, your church, your men’s group. It will take some work and effort on your part, but Jesus planned it that way. Anyone can insist on being a solo act but its way more fun to be part of the band and make some sweet harmony with others.