How can sinful people who have built–in self–interest and superior opinions about themselves ever get along with each other? If our Creator tells us how to build relationships, we should listen.
The context of this passage begins in Romans 12:9–-16 with a series of participles describing conditions that will result in harmony and unity; thus the passage is given imperatival force in translations. Here is my paraphrased translation:
“When we love or care for each other, it should be without pretense or self–interest; we should hate pornographic or sensual evil, and we should adhere to things that are good and wholesome. Relationships should be developed with family affection by showing honor and giving priority to each other. Everyone should diligently and eagerly apply these principles and always be passionately motivated to serve each other as in peak season—-continually rejoicing in hope, corporately or individually bearing up under pressure or distress, sharing necessities with other believers, and especially continuing the pursuit of hospitality toward their brethren. Be a help or blessing (the only imperative) to those who persecute (same word as pursue in previous phrase) you; remember to always bless others and never wish someone ruin or bad luck. Empathy should be shared with those who are glad and rejoicing, but we are also to weep with those who weep. Everyone should have this same mind–set—-not seeking or minding lofty or prestigious things but rather going along with or beside the humble or those of lower social classes and making them feel like equal partners in Christ.”
The second imperative in this concluding statement is “do not be continually conceited, or wise in yourselves.” Proverbs warns of such conceited people: “Do you see a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov 26:12). This kind of “fool” (Heb. kesil) is someone who is so full of himself that he hates any correction or knowledge that was not his idea (Prov 18:2). He is immature, always wanting his way. He uses “friends” and destroys them (13:20). He believes everything revolves around him.
“Lord Jesus, I despise conceit in others, but do I demonstrate conceit in my own life? Teach me to value humility more than being right all the time or being the best at anything. Please, Lord, do not let me become a ‘fool’ in Your sight.”