Beloved, Love One Another3
Have you ever been loved well by another brother or sister in Christ? My guess is that all of us can say yes. For me that would be a resounding yes! As I look back, it has been one of the main things that Christ has used in my life to encourage me, to grow me, and to show His love towards me. This has shown itself in many ways.
One example from my life is my friend Sophia. She invited me to her college church group and tied me into people that forever changed my life. They taught me how to study God's Word, showed me what Christ-like relationships look like, and invited me into their homes and on family trips. They took me in like one of their kids. As my walk continued, there would be many people that came into my life, some for a season and some for much longer, yet all of them have mattered and have helped me become more like Christ.
But sometimes loving well is even more simple than that. It's bringing a meal to someone who is sick or leaving eggs and muffins on someone's door with a small note saying: "Thinking of you!". I am seeking to learn to love and care better for those around me. Much of what I know has come from many of you and I sure have a long way to go.
In 1 John 4:7-12 the writer encourages us:
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."
We see here that our faith is made evident in our love for one another. It is how we express our love to God. In fact, John says that if our love for one another is lacking then we need to question if we love God himself. Jesus, being the ultimate example, laid down his life for us. And part of our sanctification is growing in love for one another.
Recently, the scripture passage in John 15:5-12 has been popping up in different ways. The scene is Jesus and his 12 disciples at the last supper. Hours before he would be turned in for questioning and before his crucifixion, He shares with his disciples the importance of friendship, our need for one another.
"By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Joy and other spiritual fruit flow from our relationship with God, but they are made full through our relationships with one another. We are meant to be in close relationship with one another. We need each other to help us abide and for our joy.
Here are some practical ways we can do that:
- Consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3-4). Most of the time we are in our own heads, thinking about our lives. Next time you are on your way to visit someone, or walking into church or a Bible Study, think about who you are going to meet, think about how you can be a blessing. Encourage someone and pray for opportunities.
- Comfort one another (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
- Speak truth in love and at the right time (Colossians 3:16 and Proverbs 25:11).
- Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together (Colossians 3:16). Invite a family over to sing hymns together. Be in Bible Study together. Go to Men's Group (men only :) ).
- Eat together; Jesus and his disciples did this to be together.
- Be the first to reach out, love hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13). Let us assume the best when others aren't reaching out to us. Keep reaching out, chances are it's not you and they are just in a busy or difficult season.
- God is the great physician, but we can emulate him when we care for those who are sick or in need. Such as bring a meal, do a grocery run, bring vitamins, clean their house. In these little and big ways, we can bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2).
- Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
- SMILE - Smiles are free, but they go a long way. In Aaron's prayer in Numbers 6:23b-26, God's face shines upon us. Let us show love by smiling at each other and letting others know we are happy to see them, even without words.
- Discipleship - Titus 2 tells older men and women to teach younger men and women and in Hebrews 13:7 we are to imitate those who have gone before us in the faith. Ask someone if you can come over and spend time with them. See how they raise their kids, ask questions, be a part of their life. Come alongside them.
I pray that we all do this, not in our own strength, but in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.