Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. –Romans 12:16 (NIV)
“Sitting is the new smoking” is a warning for us modern people with our sedentary lifestyles. Now, new research shows “Loneliness is the new smoking too” because a lack of social connection has been linked to bad physical, mental, and emotional health outcomes.
Someone said, “We Americans could send a man to the moon, but we have a hard time walking across the yard to meet the neighbors.” According to this one verse above, what are some ways to be and stay in healthy community with others?
1. “Live in harmony.” This means, be reasonable, be willing to yield, don’t have a “my way or the highway” mindset. Be easy to get along with.
2. “Do not be proud. Do not be conceited.” Avoid a “know it all” mentality, recognize your weaknesses, and be humble and teachable. Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll tells the story of some children who wanted to set up a club. However, they realized that, to be a real club, they had to have some club rules. So, they devised these three: “Nobody act big. Nobody act small. Everybody act medium.”
That is a beautiful image of living in harmony and avoiding pride or ego-driven conflicts. “Everybody act medium.”
3. “Be willing to associate with people of low position.” It’s normal to know the name of your boss or your boss’s boss, but do you know the name of the person who empties the trash in your office?
One powerful and true story about the value of community comes from an elderly woman. Her husband had served in WWII, and she lived alone as a widow for many years after he passed. Still, even as a widow, she always had a smile on her face, a warm greeting to folks who passed by, and was an active member in her neighborhood church for about 60 years. Plus, her involvement in church was not just passively sitting in a pew. Before worship service she attended a Sunday School class, had close connections, and in the warm months often brought fresh-cut flowers from her yard as decorations.
She was so faithful in attendance, in fact, when one frigid, winter Sunday she was absent in Sunday School, all her friends were alarmed. “Where is she?!” they wondered. Finding a way to enter her home, they discovered she had fallen in her basement and had been lying on the cold concrete floor for some time. She was shaken up and had suffered from some exposure, but her friends got her medical attention and she soon fully recovered and went on to live several years more.
Although everyone who knew her was rejoicing that she was alright, they also had the chilling thought: if her Sunday School friends had not gone looking for her, she probably would have died a cold, slow, lonely death on her basement floor. In her case, her involvement in a Sunday School class literally saved her life!
As someone said, “Solitude is healthy, but isolation is deadly.”
If you’re not involved in a healthy community, what are you waiting for? Take the first step and get connected!