Paul had recently been dealing with an extremely difficult situation in the church at Corinth. Many of its members had formed themselves into opposing groups, which argued with each other fiercely (1 Corinthians 1:11-12). Each group wanted to prove that they were superior to the other groups (compare 2 Corinthians 10:12).
A similar situation was starting to develop in the church at Rome. In Corinth, there were several groups, but in Rome there were just two. Jewish Christians established the church there, but then Rome’s rulers forced them to leave Rome (Acts 18:2). Gentile Christians then led the church, but now the Jewish Christians were returning (16:3-5). So now the church had two groups of leaders: the Jews (people from Israel) and the Gentiles (people from other nations).
In Romans 12:16, Paul repeats some of the advice that he gave earlier to the Gentile Christians (11:20; 11:25). A Christian should not try to prove that he is superior to other Christians. Such an attitude only causes arguments and troubles. It spoils the love that Christians should show to each other (12:10).
Instead, a Christian should think about how he can serve other people (Mark 10:43-44; John 13:2-15).
In particular, he should try to help other Christians, and he should not be afraid to do even humble tasks. Those are the tasks that other people do not want to do. Nobody except God may notice them; but God will reward the person who does them.
When Christians have that right attitude towards each other, they work together to make each other stronger. That is how God wants churches to operate (12:4-5).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.