Because God Loves Us – Part Three

Because God loves us, We can love one another. 1 John 4:11 states, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Here is the progression of love we have explored so far: God first loves us, which empowers us to love Him in return, and then to love ourselves. This progression is to continue. Loving ourselves is a necessary step, but we don’t live in isolation; we live in community. As we look through the lens of love at the faces surrounding us, we see them in an entirely new light. These are people for whom Christ died. Now that we have received God’s love, we are empowered to love, and we even want to love. We long to embody Christ and take His love to those around us.

The New Testament is an “us” book written for people together, not for individuals in isolation. This becomes apparent when we consider the “one another” concept that is so significant in the New Testament Epistles. That phrase occurs some sixty-one times, almost all of which have to do with how Christians relate to one another. For example, we read that we are to pray for one another, encourage one another, greet one another, and forgive one another. These statements form a kind of road map of godly relationships, showing the little highways of caring that connect us. All those roads lead to this destination: “Love one another.”

In Jesus’ last great address to His disciples, delivered in that Upper Room with His closest companions, “Love one another” was a major theme. In fact, He established it as “a new commandment” (John 13:34-35). What was new about it? It was the fact that the source of all love had personally modeled the way to love. Jesus practiced “loving one another” perfectly in His three years with those men. He cut a highway of love through the wilderness of a broken world and demonstrated the sacrificial nature of love for others.

Now, on His last night on earth before His crucifixion, Jesus urges His disciples to carry this love forward. He repeats the commandment (John 15:12-13) and tells His disciples (and us as well) to imitate Him in our love for one another. “I have shown you My love,” He is saying. “Now you follow My lead. You love one another in the same way.” He is identifying love for others as the trademark of His true disciples. In other words, people will know we are Christians by our love.

Peter, who was present for this discussion, got the point. Later, he wrote, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Peter learned the truth of this verse through a bitter experience he would never forget. In a moment of fear, he denied that he even knew Jesus. The overcoming power of love was driven home when Jesus later sought him out and forgave him.

It’s obvious that Jesus’ command to love one another also deeply impressed John. After reiterating the commandment twice in chapter 3 of his first letter (1 John 3:11, 23), he says in chapter 4, “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 (1 John 4:11-12).

In other words, God is invisible, but His love flowing through us makes His presence tangible to others, much like the rustling leaves gives tangible evidence to the presence of the wind. When we truly love, John says, God lives within us and builds up our capacity for love, making it more powerful and dynamic all the time. 

More on “loving one another” next time … 

In Love – Be Entertaining (Hospitable)

“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9)

I don’t know what you thought when you read the word entertaining in the name of this blog. You may have begun to put on your dancing shoes, pick up your harmonica, or dust off your old Reader’s digest book of jokes. That’s because we have lost the primary meaning of the word. Today, entertainment brings to mind “amusement.” The classic sense of the word, however, has more to do with the ministry of hospitality.

Paul uses an interesting word when he encourages the Roman Christians to be “given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13). Given is the word for “pursue.” It is an active, energetic idea. The Church father Origen wrote about Paul’s use of the word for “pursue” in this context:

“How finely does Paul sum up the generosity of the man who pursues hospitality in one word! For by saying that hospitality is to be pursued, he shows that we are not just to receive the stranger when he comes to us, but actually to inquire after, and look carefully for strangers, to pursue them and search them out everywhere.”

I like Paul’s phrase “given to hospitality.” It’s not something we force ourselves to do; we are driven by a passion for the welfare of others. We go above and beyond the required minimum and dedicate ourselves to meeting the needs of those who come into our midst.

When we are given to hospitality, we see beyond the road-ragged clothing and travel dust on our guests and recognize them as eternal creatures whom God loves and created in His own image. C. S. Lewis eloquently made this point in his famous observation from The Weight of Glory:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature to which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You never talk to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are all mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. 

It’s an astonishing observation. How would we treat other people if we fully realized that we  were “helping each other to one or the other of these destinations”? Would we offer more hospitality? Would be be a bit more patient with people in traffic? With coworkers? Family members? It’s not always easy, but Peter tells us to muster up a little humility and do it: “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

You may feel that you stack up pretty well in this department. Most of us believe ourselves to be loving people. When I preach a “love one another” sermon, I never get the idea that people think I am stepping on their toes. The first generation of Christians in the early church probably felt the same way. Yet Paul challenged them to increase and perfect their love for one another. To the Philippians he wrote: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more” (Philippians 1:9). He wrote a similar message to the Christ-followers of Thessalonica: “You yourselves are taught by God to love one another … But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).

Alexander Maclaren, one of the great preachers of nineteenth-century England, described what happened when the followers of Jesus began to live out His commandment to love one another. Maclaren’s oft-quoted words have been called the most eloquent portrayal of Christian love found outside Scripture itself. He first described the terrible gulfs of language, nationality, gender, and philosophy that separated people in the ancient world. It was a world of unveiled hostility. Then Jesus came and told us to love one another:

“Barbarian, Scythian, bond and free, male and female, Jew and Greek, learned and ignorant clasped hands and sat down at one table, and felt themselves all one in Christ Jesus. They were ready to break all other bonds, and to yield to the uniting forces that steamed out from His Cross. There never had been anything like it. No wonder that the world began to babble about sorcery, and conspiracies, and complicity in unnameable vices. It was only that the disciples were obeying the new commandment, and a new thing had come into the world — a community held together by love and not by geographical accidents or linguistic affinities, or the iron fetters of the conqueror … The new commandment made a new thing, and the world wondered.” 

Sometimes I’m My Own Worst Enemy

Most weeks everyone of us faces a number of demands upon our life

Events, relationships, circumstances, and situations that demand our time and attention

But, at the same time, there is a personal and private side of life that also needs you to invest some time and effort into it on a regular basis

This is our inner life that deals with the soul and spirit realm – the essence of who we are

But the demands of life can be fairly heavy, consistent, and demanding so we put our soul aside in order to carry on with the demands of life

We all do it

Life goes on, despite our personal struggles

And. Often because of the pace of regular life, we simply neglect our inner life

A friend of mine lost his father on a Wednesday

His company expected him back at the office on Monday

It is hard on our soul

It is hard on our life with God

So, a question arose in my soul the other day:

“Why is kindness toward my own soul so unfamiliar that it is so easy to ignore my own inner need – the wrinkles in my soul – to just ‘carry on with things?’”

Events, demands, expectations

To meet other people’s needs while ignoring my own

Doing what is expected of me instead of what is needed by me 

The world requires us to keep going at such speeds that we end up having only one emotional state towards everything 

A general, haggard, hazy condition of “on”

I’m on for a phone call from Kazakhstan

I’m on for a chat with a leader in Russia

I’m on for writing five blogs this week

I’m on for a phone call with my sister in Montreal

We live life pretty much on ‘automatic pilot’ without engaging our thoughts and feelings

Life is so busy and so demanding that there’s little to no margin for anything else and so the needs of our soul are stuffed into the corner and ignored time and again

We are so busy being kind to everyone else we fail to show kindness toward ourselves

And, in this regard “Sometimes I’m My Own Worst Enemy”

I came to this realization while reading Paul’s letter to  the Church in Ephesus

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”       (Ephesians 1:6-8 NLT)

God is “so rich in kindness…”

He has showered His kindness on us

This kindness is so lovely and life-giving, we really need to pause — we really should pause —  and take time to reflect upon it

Kindness

Such a simple virtue that often takes a back seat to more dramatic qualities like bravery and holiness

And yet kindness is such a wonderful thing to receive

Don’t you love it when people are kind to you?

I sure do!

In a world growing increasingly angry and hostile, a little bit of kindness can make your day

You’re trying to merge into busy traffic and instead of cutting you off, the driver ahead pauses and waves you in

You’re returning some item to the store and, after waiting your turn behind several customers, you get to the counter only to realize you forgot the receipt

“No worries,” the clerk says, “We can take care of this.”

Such simple gestures can totally change your day

Kindness is simply wonderful 

If it is so wonderful – so refreshing – I find it interesting that we are seldom kind to ourselves

“Sometimes I Am My Own Worst Enemy”

And, as I have been thinking about all this — I am struck by the power of offering kindness towards ourselves

I was out in the yard this past summer working to assemble 300 pounds of bricks designed to form a fire pit for the yard

I have the base all level and straight – in the center of the yard, well situated

I have read the instructions and moved all 300 pounds of bricks from the front to the side yard and then move them, once again, to the back of the house two at a time

I start lining up the bottom row so they fit tight together and create the circular base of the fire pit

Too wide a circle leaving gaps between … so I move the bricks in closer

Still too wide … so I move all of them again to close the gap

Still too much open space after laying the complete bottom row … so I move them ALL

Now they are too close and I can’t get the last two in correctly … so I move them ALL

By this time I have worked for 90 minutes and achieved nothing but becoming angry and tired with raw finger tips

Finally, I realized what I needed — I need to walk away

I needed to let it go

I needed to sit down and have a coffee and calm down

I needed to express some kindness towards myself

This was totally new to me

Even though I have spent 50+ years telling others how to be gracious to their souls

I have always been hard on my own

So, I began to practice simple kindness toward myself 

Demanding less of myself

Giving myself permission to stop and not just keep pushing through

Allowing myself some slack

The fruit of this has been really good on my soul

The ripple effects are good on everyone else around me

In a book I was reading the other day the author was expressing the need to show kindness towards himself

I was all ears – well, all eyes, as I was reading a book

He wrote:

“A friend was in town last week. I felt I ought to invite him to come over. But before I sent the text, I paused and asked Jesus. Not a good call, He said. You’re utterly exhausted. And it’s true — I was wiped out from a week of meetings, mission, and work, and I was about to spend my one and only evening off on further giving, had not Jesus intervened. His counsel didn’t come as a command; it came in the gentle spirit of kindness. He said, Don’t do that to yourself.

Boy, for me this was and is a whole new way of living my Christian life

Experiencing God’s kindness and, as a result, showing kindness to myself

Let’s review the Scripture again… 

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”       (Ephesians 1:6-8 NLT)

So, I began to make some foundational changes

      • I take a one minute pause every hour or so – just to take a deep breath and say thanks to God for … whatever

This is kind

      • I have begun to make room for more walks outside regardless of the weather getting in touch with nature and with my soul

This is kind

      • Unplugging for a short time on a daily basis from the constant barrage of media coming at me — most of which I need for my work and ministry

This is kind

      • Taking whole segments of time when I ignore the phone and all of its related ways to connect with people … they can wait as I am busy being kind to myself

This is kind

      • Taking time both early morning and before bed just to review the condition of my soul 

This is kind

I do these things (and others) because they bring me life

I do these things because they make me more aware of God’s presence and peace

I do these things because they heal and strengthen my soul

I do these things because the results are amazing and I would be a fool not to

So what might practicing kindness toward yourself look like these days:

      • Perhaps in the way you talk to yourself, especially when you blow it, mess something up, let a friend down
      • It might be in the pace you are currently demanding that your soul keep up with
      • What about the spoken and unspoken expectations you live by
      • Or maybe the to-do list you currently have for yourself 

These are four that I am currently working on correcting to show more kindness to myself

To not be so hard on myself

Because: Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy

Jesus said:

“Love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31)

Jesus is implying a direct link between one and the other

Loving our neighbour is clearly an essential to the Christian walk

I think we all get that one

But the qualifier “as yourself” is lost on most people

It sounds too much like pop psychology – self-help nonsense

Something you’d see on the cover of the magazines at the checkout counter, right next to the articles on “brain superfood” and “how to talk to your pet.”

Yet Jesus was pretty matter-of-fact about the comparison:

Treat people like you treat yourself

Think about it: If we treated our neighbours the way we typically treat ourselves, we would not be great neighbours

So, Jesus drives home healthy self-care (being kind to yourself) as tied directly to how we love others

The truth that arises out of this realization (revelation) is: The way you treat your own heart and soul is the way you’ll end up treating everyone else’s

You may think that it is not like that….

“I’m much more patient with my daughter than I am with myself”

That may be so … in the short term

But over time our lack of patience with ourselves begins to show up in our relationship with others and people notice

If you are a “neat freak,” I guarantee that you show more natural delight when your child straightens up their room to your standards than when they do a less-than-perfect job

“Wow — look at your room! You did a great job!”

The point: How you treat yourself is how you will treat others

The point: How you view yourself is how you will view others

                  • Patient with yourself – patient with others
                  • Love yourself – love others
                  • Hard on yourself – hard on others
                  • Judge yourself – judge others
                  • Accept yourself for who you are – accept others for who they are
                  • Expect better of yourself – expect better of others

Here’s a key issue:

Most of the time we are completely unaware of how we treat our own heart and soul 

Our “way” with ourselves is simply our norm 

We have been at it so long we don’t notice how we treat ourselves

In the same way that we don’t notice how much we bite our nails

The way we finish our spouse’s sentences for them

The fact we end most sentences with “eh” (a Canadian thing)

 

A second key issue:

How we treat ourselves has a direct effect on those around us

The father who doesn’t allow himself his own emotions communicates so much to his children by that practice alone

Not being kind to himself regarding how he is feeling teaches his children to ignore or bury their feelings — Feelings are something to ignore and hold at arm’s length

He further reinforces the lesson when he is visibly awkward and uncomfortable with the emotions of his child

He tries to hurry them through a “comforting” process:

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. You’ll feel better tomorrow”

“How about we get some ice cream”

He is trying to rush the child through their emotions to a place of resolution, teaching them to be as abrupt with their own heart as he is with his

Not being kind to himself on the feelings level teaches his children, by example, to not be kind to themselves on an emotional level

The Fact: The way you treat your heart and soul is the way you’ll end up treating everyone else’s heart and soul

We need to learn that God is gentle and that His kindness towards us is gentle

That He has and is pouring out His kindness on us 

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”       (Ephesians 1:6-8 NLT)

Then we can be kind to ourselves

Then we can take that kindness and let it flow out to others we relate to

His kindness flows both into us and through us to others – gentle grace

Let me apply this to our everyday life where we often face self-imposed unspoken, unrealistic expectations…

I recently received one of those “you must watch” videos forwarded to me

Normally I don’t read, watch, or listen to anything that is forwarded to me – personal policy

But the person who sent it to me has never forwarded anything to me before

And he included an enticing line” “You’ve just got to see this!”

And it was impressive, no question

A beautifully filmed video of a professional dirt bike racer who had taken up surfing and wanted to combine his extreme adventures

So he constructed a dirt bike he could actually ride at high speeds on the ocean. Really!

The gorgeous project was filmed in Tahiti

The climax of the video is him actually catching and surfing a wave on a motorcycle

Impressive! Outrageous!

In a battle for our attention, this one is an easy winner; it seriously an attention getter

And completely unkind

Because the cumulative effect of this stuff sets up all sorts of unspoken, maybe even unconscious expectations within us

I don’t think we have given any thought to what it does to the soul to live in a culture where that kind of stuff is the daily fare

This stuff shows up in my inbox all the time — I know you get them too

First it was base jumping

Folks leaping off cliffs and tall building wearing a parachute or parasail

That becomes routine, so it elevated to jumping without parachutes in “squirrel suits,” flying through the air to safe landing zones

Now that’s routine, so the video I got the other day was of two guys jumping off a mountain with no safe landing zone within miles, flying in squirrel suits through the air and making their “landing’ into the door of an airplane

The incessant upgrade of everything

Always pushing the boundaries

Extreme this, extreme that

It sets up an unspoken set of expectations in our hearts that, unless your life is YouTube ready, your life is stupid

Your life is boring

Studies show that anxiety and depression — and envy — rise in direct proportion to one’s consumption of social media

Because we’re comparing our lives to what’s online

Creeping in is the message that if your life is going to measure up and be wonderful, it has to be fantastic

Men use to get on bended knee to propose to their beloved

Nowadays you’re a loser unless you do it skydiving or kayaking over waterfalls

This phenomenon is shaping Christianity — or Christian practices — and even more harmfully shaping our spiritual expectations

Modern worship bands not only need to be extraordinarily talented musicians, young, and beautiful — BUT their live events must employ multimedia to keep your attention as well 

Now church services compete with concert-level staging, lighting, special effects, and films.

The terrible, unspoken assumption creeping in is this:

If you’re going to find God

If you’re going to have more of God

It’s going to come through some amazing experience, something wild and over the top

Or we think that once we have God, the proof will be an over-the-top life … “life not ordinary”

Not true of course

Actually unhelpful and immensely unkind to your soul and mine

This expectation actually makes those deeper experiences of God seem inaccessible for most of us

We do need more of God, much more

Little sips between long droughts will not sustain us

We need more of God in our bodies, our souls, our relationships, our work — everywhere in our lives

But when you live in a culture of the incessant upgrade of everything — the sensational 

It gives the impression that if you’re going to have a deeper, richer, amazing experience of God, it’s going to have to come in some sensational way

I have some wonderful news for you: Nope! Not true! Not even close!

Life is built on the dailies

Consider love, friendship, and marriage

Love, friendship, and marriage are not built on skydiving together

Trips to Paris

Kayaking the Amazon River

Perhaps once in your life you might do something like that

But the fantastic is not your daily

Love, friendship, and marriage are nurtured in the context of simple things like…

      • Coffee together
      • Hanging out
      • Getting a burrito
      • Holding hands
      • Taking a walk
      • Doing the dishes
      • Reading to one another
      • Just reading different things while you’re together in the same room
      • Sharing your thoughts and feeling
      • Responding to someone when they have shared their thoughts and feelings

 

It’s the little things that build a beautiful life – and solid relationships

I know we often tend to live for the big events – the break from the normal

But, life is made up of the “daily things” 

If you want to walk in a half marathon – then you start by walking each day and building up the muscles and the stamina 

If you want to bike across Canada and raise money for a worthy cause – you start by getting on your bike every day and riding around your neighbourhood and city

If you have a desire and a dream to see the lost come to the Lord by the hundreds as you share in front of large crowds – you start by sharing with those you meet daily as you live your normal life here and now

You are making it second nature so that when you do go out, you can handle what you will encounter

AND, this is how life with God works as well … small steps daily … It’s in the dailies

I do think that God has amazing things or us

I really do

I have been part of some extraordinary experiences with God

I have had global adventures with Him

But, I don’t live there

Getting there, just like getting to love others or anything else that’s wonderful in this life – is in the dailies

It’s back here at home in the little things we do

That is how we practice kindness to ourselves – in the dailies

So, what does extending kindness towards yourself look like right now?

How do you talk to yourself?

What is your “way” with yourself?

Is it harsh?

Unforgiving?

Demanding?

What about the expectations you currently have for getting things done?

Is efficiency running your life and causing you to see things a certain way?

Pace of life is a good barometer too

What’s the pace you’re currently demanding of yourself?

Would you ask the same pace of someone you love?

Ask Jesus…

What is the pace you want for me right now, Lord?

He might have some things He’d like to say to you about that

Not in the negative sense, but in loving directions toward life and then abundant life

Kindness towards oneself means not being driven – but being led by God

Kindness towards oneself means not expecting perfection or even improvement every day

Kindness toward oneself means taking time to be in touch with your feeling and dealing with them as they rise up inside

Maybe just allowing yourself to have feelings

Kindness toward oneself mean’s being gracious about your heart’s slow journey toward God

Kindness toward oneself means to stop trying to measure up to some ideal that you have of who you should be … accepting yourself for who you are and where you are at right now

Kindness toward oneself means stop comparing yourself to others and just be you

Kindness to oneself may even mean to turn off the newsfeed on Facebook and to stop spending so much time on You Tube

Kindness to oneself means living life in such a way that you have both personal space and personal time

 

God really wants for us to accept His kindness – to receive and live in His kindness

God wants to lead us into rest, beauty, restoration and all that He has planned for us 

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”       (Ephesians 1:6-8 NLT)

 

2021 – Look Around and Meet a Need

Many years ago I heard a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. The phrase was, “Find a need and meet it.” Good advice then when I first heard it and still good advice today. Often in the Church we see people struggling to determine the calling on their life. What is it that God wants them to do? Of course, they are thinking about being a pastor, an evangelist, a teacher of the Bible… But, they have no idea how to really find out what it is God wants them to be doing. 

Well, it is simple really. Live life to the fullest engaged with others and the real world. As you engage with and embrace life you will find a need and meet it. Then, in the process of helping others, you will sense, feel, and discover what it is that God is calling you to do. That one, unique thing that you were created to do. Often you will find this ‘one thing’ almost by accident as you live life and meet a need.

A true story….

One Sunday afternoon in 1771, a man named Valentin Haüy ducked into a restaurant in Paris for dinner. He sat near the stage, and the show that evening featured blind people in a comedy routine. They were objects of ridicule and cruelty. The act was designed to make fun of their blindness. Deeply offended, Haüy began to develop a burden for the blind.

Sometime later he spotted a sightless street urchin who was begging for coins outside a Parisian church. Giving the boy some money, Haüy was amazed to see the boy feel the raised markings on the coins to distinguish the amounts. That gave Haüy an idea. Why couldn’t books be written with raised letter, like images on coins? Why couldn’t people learn to read with their fingers? Haüy took the boy off the streets, offered him food and shelter, devised a plan with wooden blocks and numbers, and taught the boy to read. In 1784, Haüy started the world’s first school for blind children. It was in Paris, and one of the first teachers was the blind boy rescued from the streets.

But that’s just the beginning.

Several years later, another boy named Louis was born in the village of Coupvray, France. His father was a farmer and harness maker, and as a toddler Louis loved watching his father work with leather tools. But tragedy stuck in 1812 when three-year-old Louis was playing with a leftover strap of leather, trying to punch holes in it. His hand slipped, and the sharp tool punctured and put out his eye. An infection set in that spread to the other eye, and little Louis ended up blind in both eyes for life.

A local minister names Jacques Palluy loved the boy and began visiting him to read to him the Bible. Seeing the boy had a good mind, Father Jacques determined he should receive an education. So at age ten. Louis was enrolled in the school Haüy had established in Paris, where he proved to be a brilliant student.

Eventually Louis began teaching other students in the Paris School for the Blind. He studied Haüy’s method of reading, and he also became aware of a system of military communication developed by a French army captain that allowed soldiers to communicate in the dark by running their fingers over a series of dots and dashes. Though still a teenager, Louis Braille began adapting these systems into a program of his own; in 1829, at age twenty, he published a little book on the Braille method of reading.

The school resided in a damp building by the River Seine. It was cold and unhealthy, and the food and conditions were poor. Louis developed tuberculosis, but he continued working on his system of reading, which began catching on and soon was being exported around the world. As his health failed, Louis said, “I am convinced my mission on earth has been accomplished, I asked God to carry me away from this world.”

Think of the chain reaction of that cascading dream. One man developed a burden for the blind when he saw ridiculed actors on stage and a begger boy on the streets. He was just going about his normal, every day life and was impacted by something he experienced and this led him to seeing a need and meeting it. We call that having a ministry. His burden led him to establish a school and attempt a system of reading. Then a local pastor developed a burden for a blind boy in another village (saw a need and met it) and taught him the Bible and longed to send him to a school. That blind child, Louis Braille, developed a burden to improve and to expand Haüy’s work. The world was changed, and as a result, millions of sightless souls have experienced the joy of reading the Bible and other books for themselves for almost two centuries.  

So, as believers we should simply live life to the fullest and along the way be sensitive to the needs of others. When we spot a need, step in and work to meet it. You will then be ministering in compassion as Jesus did and using your talents and skills to meet the need that you encountered. This is real ministry. 

Submit to One Another

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Ask the average Christian what he thinks of when he hears the word “submission” and generally the response will have something to do with marriage-particularly the attitude and actions that a wife should have toward her husband. One reason for this, of course, is that the Bible does refer to wifely submission. On three occasions, Paul exhorts wives to “submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians.3:18; Titus 2:5). Peter does the same in his first epistle (1 Peter 3:1).

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Encourage One Another

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians. 5:11).

The Apostle Paul had one important concern that was constantly on his mind and heart-to do all he could when he could to build up the body of Christ. And knowing he could only do so much as an individual, his strategy was to transfer this concern to others-to encourage every other Christian to develop the same concern for all other Christians (Colossians 2:2; 4:8).

Paul’s concern, of course, forms the basic purpose of this series of articles: to provide believers with biblical and practical guidelines for developing a functioning church. In short, to help Christians build up and edify one another.

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Bear One Another’s Burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NASB).

Dealing with sin in the lives of fellow believers is one of the most difficult tasks God has given Christians. It’s much easier to carry out the other injunctions relating to body function. Consequently, many churches ignore this responsibility entirely. Others treat it lightly. Still others deal with the issue of sin only rather than with the individual or individuals involved.

What does the Bible say about the subject? This was Paul’s primary concern when he exhorted the Galatians to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). This should not surprise us since he had just discussed in detail what it means to keep in step with the Spirit rather than to engage in the acts of the sinful nature.

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Serve One Another

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge your sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

Freedom emerges as a major theme in Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians. No longer are they to “let themselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Formerly, they-along with the whole world-were “prisoners of sin” (3:22). The Law of God thundered from Sinai did not set them free from sin. It simply made them more aware of how captive they were to their old natures. Throughout the years that followed, the law of Moses became God’s means “to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (3:24). It was Christ who fulfilled the requirement of the law-death. Thus Paul could write to the Galatians: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (5:1).

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Greet One Another

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila. . . . Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epaenetus. . . . Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. . . . Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings” (Romans 16:3-6, 16).

These folks represent only a few people whom Paul greeted personally as he closed his letter to the Roman believers. In fact, he mentioned 26 people by name, and his exhortation to “greet one another with a holy kiss” represents only one of five such exhortations in the New Testament letters (see also 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14).

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Admonish One Another

“And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14, NASB).

Some of the most significant relationships I’ve developed over the years have resulted from experiences in which I’ve had to confront another Christian about his sin It has never been an easy task (I dread it every time). Yet in the end it usually (not always) has been a very emotionally and spiritually rewarding task. Furthermore, it always provides me an opportunity for personal, psychological and spiritual growth. I inevitably end up evaluating my own Christian life-style and frequently discover I need to make some changes too.

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