Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8 ESV).
When my father died, we discovered some treasurers in his dresser drawer. No, there was nothing like a bag of uncut diamonds or gold doubloons. These were only precious to a grandfather. Here were hand-scrawled notes with backward letters and misspellings, but they were precious to dad because they came from his grandchildren. Among the papers were a pair of his glasses that were carefully wrapped and set aside. What made those glasses so valuable? The tiny fingerprints that smudged them!
You are special! Just like no one else has the same fingerprints as you do, you are a unique creation, and our differences make it almost impossible for us to agree on anything – especially in church. Just think about our music. Some people like the old stately hymns. Some like “hot acapella” with impressive solos and vocal sound effects. Some prefer chanting, while others love four-part harmony. Pity the congregation that is looking for a new minister! He should be young with forty-years of experience. Tall, short, thin, “jolly,” prophetic, a counselor, liberal, conservative, and the list is endless.
So how can the Apostle Peter tell us to “have unity of mind”? He uses a very rare word. It is only found here in the New Testament. It describes not only having the same goal but having the same feelings about it!
“Peter, that sounds impossible in my experience!” and so Peter wisely gives us the path to unity in the words that follow. First, we need to cultivate “sympathy.” That means learning to see the world through other people’s eyes.
I once worked with a congregation that was coming apart at the seams. The young people wanted to make changes to make the church more appealing to a new generation. The older members wanted to go back in time and do things the way they were done in the 60s “when we were the fastest-growing church in America!” It was nearly war until people began to see through each other’s eyes. They both wanted the same thing: for the church to grow.
“Brotherly love” describes friendship. We like each other. In order to become friends, we need to spend time with one another. That’s why hospitality is so important.
A “tender heart” opens the door to understanding, and finally, a “humble mind” is focused on others’ well-being. When we put these virtues together, suddenly unity and harmony don’t seem so impossible!
Be a Blessing,
I know Greek word studies leave many people cold, but there are some of you who would like to know more. For you, I include the following:
The first term, which is translated “unity of mind,” is only found here in the New Testament. It is a compound word combining homos (ὁμός – think of the English word “homo-genized”) and phren, (φρήν – in English, like in Greek, the stem phren– refers to “the seat of the intellect, feelings, and will; the mind”). When we join them together using Peter’s special word, homophron, we have the meaning “like-minded, united in spirit, harmonious.” A quick look at the various translations reveals: “be ye all of one mind” (KJV). The Complete Jewish Bible takes it further: “be one in mind and feeling.” Many English Bibles stress the idea of Christians being in harmony with one another (NASB, LEB, NET). Of course, that is only possible if we cultivate the last virtue, humility, into our thinking.