Category Archives: Relationships

21Apr/18

Be the Alien you are!

1 Peter 2v11-12

 

 

These 2 verses introduce a package of practical teaching from Peter of what it means to pursue holiness in the different contexts we find in life – as part of society, as part of enterprise, and as part of family.

He starts with a reminder that we are aliens and strangers in this world.

The world “alien” immediately, for those of us who love a little bit of science fiction, immediately makes us think of strange new worlds, new life and new civilizations, of boldly going where no man has gone before 🙂

The word “stranger”, we are brought up to believe they are someone to avoid – stranger danger.  Don’t talk to strangers.

But Peter also knows that the word “alien” means a foreigner, and “stranger” to mean a person who does not know, or is not known in, a particular place or community.

Now, many of us here, have been living in the Highlands for many years.  We are not aliens and strangers in our communities. We are known.  But we have to remind ourselves who Peter is writing to – he is writing to people exiled and scattered throughout the provinces – he is writing to people who are living for Jesus wherever they are – and for many of them they were actually aliens and strangers in the communities that they found themselves.

They were people were from, say somewhere like Jerusalem, and now found themselves as aliens and strangers in places like Pontus, Galatia, and Asia. 

Now many of you know that I am originally from Hamilton where I was born and brought up and at the age of 19, 1 week before my 20th Birthday, I moved to Inverness.  I know you’ll find this hard to believe because of my youthful looks, but I’ve actually lived in Inverness longer than I’ve lived in Hamilton.  And when I arrived in Inverness, I took some time to get to know the place because, to me, Inverness was a strange place, I was an alien, a stranger in these parts.  And as I got to know the place and the people my life and my speech slowed and I began to become more ‘Highland’.  I was speaking to a work colleague on Thursday evening who was from the village of Cleland, which is not too far from Motherwell and Wishaw, and he was amazed that I was from Hamilton – I obviously don’t come across as someone from Hamilton, whatever that means, maybe because my accent has mellowed from that central west of Scotland dialect you know by the way.

 When my cousins moved from Cumbernauld to Preston in the late 1970’s, my aunt and uncle kept their accents but my cousins who were all below the age of 10, almost immediately adopted the Lancashire accents of those around them.

Because it’s the most natural thing for us as humans to try and blend into the society and the culture that we live in. Because by nature, we don’t want to be aliens, we don’t want to be strangers.

But Peter is reminding them they are aliens and strangers in the world – not aliens and strangers in a place, but in the world. And he urges then, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against their souls.

In other words, no matter where you are folks, you need to remember that you are a whole new person.  You have received a great salvation in Jesus, you have a hope that holds the future in the present because its anchored in the past.  You are called to pursue holiness – to show love, to bring life and light!  Because you have been called out of darkness into His wonderful light.

And Peter is urging them not to go back into a lifestyle from that which they have been rescued from.  Because Peter is well aware that as they try to live in a new place, in a different part of the world, it’s the most natural thing for them to try and blend into that society, blend into that culture – when in Rome do as the Romans do type thing.

He is reminding them as As Paul reminded the Philippians “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body”

Paul is saying, and Peter is saying, conforming to society and culture around us is not the model folks – because we are chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.  We are now citizens of heaven and we need to reflect the standards of heaven.

Peter is telling us that we cannot afford to return to that which we have been saved from, because we are looking towards that which we have been saved to.  Our great salvation in Jesus.

And the challenge of pursuing holiness that we have been talking about over the last few weeks is based on not conforming to the standards of this world – to be different – to live differently.  In other words don’t do what your natural instinct tells you to do and conform to the society and culture you find yourself in.  

Because this society and culture with its temptations are waging war against our souls.  And we are urged to fight against that onslaught.  For the salvation of our soul is of prime importance – that’s why we’ve accepted that great salvation in Jesus, because that salvation is of prime importance; that’s why we pursue holiness, because that salvation is of prime importance.

Our citizenship, our culture and our society is heaven.  We have been bought with a price – with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without sin or blemish.  He has redeemed us for Himself and Jesus has sent us His Holy Spirit to live in us.  We are His temple, where He dwells, we carry His presence.  Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God.  We are citizens of heaven.  Peter urges us not to be ashamed of that – not to “fit in”; but be an alien, be a stranger in this world for that is who you are, because you’re a citizen of heaven.

Peter urges us to live as citizens of heaven, so that, as he goes on to say in verse 12, we live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

The goal is the glory of God. “Live such good lives, or keep your behaviour excellent, as some versions put it, so that . . . the pagans, non-believers, might see your good deeds and glorify God.”  The challenge of our lives in living as aliens and strangers is whether our lives direct people’s attention towards the glory of God.

If we live our lives in such a way that it doesn’t point people to the glory of God, then our lives are not as they ought to be.  We become nothing more than people who conform to a culture and society that ignores God. Because we are ashamed. 

But here we have yet again, an urging, a commending, to live in a way that pursues holiness, that points to the glory of God.  Its from the time we get up in the morning till the time we go to bed at night and everything in between is to point people to the glory of God.

Notice too that the doing needs to come out of our being.  Because Peter urges us to win the war of our desires – verse 11 – before telling us to live such good lives that point to the glory of God in verse 12

Because Beautiful Conduct Springs Only from Right Desires

Verse 11 says that it is “sinful desires that wage war against the soul.” So Peter says abstain from them. Then in verse 12 Peter says we should keep our “behaviour” excellent so that people will see and give glory to God. So first he focuses on desires and then on behaviour.  This is the same pattern we saw in 1 Peter 1:14–15. “Don’t conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, but . . . be holy in all you do.” Fight first at the level of desires and then at the level of conduct.  Out of our being comes our doing.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:25, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

In other words, it doesn’t do any good to try to shine up the conduct on the outside without changing the desires on the inside. 

Good deeds flows from good desires. As Paul put it to the Galatians – “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”

So How Does Excellent Behaviour or good deeds Point to God’s Glory?

How does verse 12 work? How do our good deeds point people to the glory of God?

The answer, I think, is given in 1 Peter 3:15 where it says “Always be ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” What they see is some external action, and what they ask about is your internal hope.

What Peter is saying here is that when people look at you, what they see expressed in your actions, is what you hope in. So they see a certain way of acting—some humble act of love (Galatians 5:6) or some righteous act of courage (Hebrews 10:34) or some self-denying act of generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)—and they notice that you must not be hoping in what people usually hope in—self-exaltation, safety, money—and they are puzzled as to where your hope is.

So they ask about your hope: where do you get your confidence, your contentment, your satisfaction when you act that way?  Especially when people think what on earth are you doing? 

For when we direct our desires to God and find hope and contentment in his mercy and power and promises, then our outward life starts to show what Peter calls “good deeds or excellent behaviour”. These behaviours point to God’s glory because they point to a stable, sure, satisfying object of desire and hope that is not of this world. The point to Jesus. 

You see by pointing to the glory of God, we see the heart of God in urging us to live this way.  Because who is glorifying God in verse 12, but the pagans who see our good deeds and glorify God on the day He visit us.

Now how can pagans glorify God on the day He visits us.  I think the answer is very simple.  They themselves come to know this great salvation in Jesus, though the lives that we lead as citizens of heaven, as aliens and strangers in this world.  For the heart of God is that none should perish, and when He returns, He desires as many as possible to glorify Him on that day.

And before Peter then launches into practical teaching about how we live as citizens of heaven as part of society, as part of enterprise, and as part of family – he tells us, no… he encourages us, no…. he urges us, to have very strong desire for, to have a fire in our belly for living as a citizen of heaven so that others can become citizens of heaven.

As we were hearing from Ps Tim Jack at our Highland Network Leaders weekend:  on the day of Pentecost everyone had something in them – the Holy Sprit; but that was just the beginning, that was if you like a breathing in, but the rest of Acts 2 is the breathing out – the disciples breaking out of the room and into community and they spoke a language that people understood.  Our job as spirit filled believers is to engage a society that understands a language we speak by the breathing out of the Holy Spirit.

And this is what Peter is also urging.  Our citizenship in heaven, our status as aliens and strangers in this world does not mean we talk a different language that no one understand, but we speak and show a language that points people to the glory of God, that even though they see we are different, that breathing out of the Holy Spirit, causes the Holy Spirit to work in them so that they come to understand for themselves this great salvation in Jesus.

What these two verses make clear is that there are two tremendous issues in the world. They are, quite possibly, the most important issues in the world. And one of the reasons we know that we are aliens and strangers in the world is that the modern world we live in does not believe that these two issues are the main issues.

If the world believed this, the newspaper and TV and the theatres and the universities and popular music and industry mission statements and government goals would look and sound very different than they do. But in fact we live in a world that shows by its priorities and values and preoccupations and pleasures that it does not regard these two issues as paramount. In fact, they are not even on the list of the world’s priorities.

The two issues that dominate these two verses—and indeed dominate the whole New Testament—are <slide> the salvation of the human soul and the glory of God. The two great issues of the Bible are how the soul of man might not be destroyed and how the glory of God might not be belittled.

Conclusion

As I said earlier, many of us here, have been living in the Highlands for many years.  We are not aliens and strangers in our communities. We are known.  

If someone was to ask me to describe myself, I might say that I am a 48 year old married man who is father to 3 boys. I work 4 days a week as an IT project manager and the rest of the time I work as a Pastor in a local church.

In others words – a fairly average kind of guy that fits into a middle class society of family life and work life.  Nothing special. 

And there in lies the problem.  Because in that description of myself I have conformed to how society and culture describes themselves.  People will think that’s nice, they may think that’s ‘interesting’; If I do some good deeds, they may think I’m a good guy with a big heart, but they can’t see anything that will point them to the glory of God, in other words I am belittling the glory of God in my life.

But if I started with, I am a citizen of heaven, I’m seeking to live a Godly lifestyle in this world because Jesus has saved me from destruction and given me a hope for the future that is sure. And I outwork that lifestyle as a 48 year old married man who is a father of 3 boys.  I outwork that life style as an IT project manager and as a Pastor in a local church.

Then they may think I’m weird, a bit of a fanatic, maybe an alien; but when I do good deeds, they know the reason why – they know the motivation – they know it’s because I’m seeking to glorify God, I am seeking to maximise the glory of God because God has saved me through Christ.  They will observe my lifestyle, my deeds, and if there is a fire in my belly that seeks to live to the Spirit and live as a citizen of heaven then one day, if the Lord tarries, I might have the privilege of seeing those who have observed my lifestyle, they might accept salvation in Jesus for themselves, and so another soul may be saved for the glory of God.

But we need to be unashamed of wearing the badge of being an alien and stranger in this world. We need to be unashamed of the gospel of Christ. Unashamed of declaring our faith in Him. Unashamed of having fingers pointed at us as a result. Unashamed of people thinking we are weird.  Unashamed of living to a different standard. Unashamed of having excellent behaviour. Unashamed of Jesus. Unashamed.

Because we are chosen. We are a royal priesthood. A holy nation. A people belonging to God.

It’s time to stop being a hypocrite.  It’s time to stop playing Christian.  It’s time to stop conforming to this world and this culture.  It’s time to repent from those ways and time to turn again to what Christ saved us to be, and made us to be;  It’s time to be the aliens we are and speak and live differently to this world.

Invite the scrutiny. Live lives that can stand up to such scrutiny.  Live lives that show that out of our being in Christ  comes our doing of love, life and light.

Cause them to ask us why we’re different. Why are we an alien.  And as we do, let’s be ready to give an answer and pray one day they too may become citizens of heaven. 

Amen.

28Dec/16

Family (F.A.C.E. Part 1)

Love can difficult to define. How can one truly define what love is?

Zsa Zsa Gabor said that a man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he’s finished.

Rita Rudner said that she loves being married. She says it’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

Someone said that love is blind but marriage soon restores your sight

Or here is a wonderful story of love in action. He grabbed her hand and held it tightly, and she thought, “he loves me!” And he thought, “wow this pavement is icy!”

Many have tried to define love, you just need to google “love is quote. People have sung about it
Love love love
Love love love
Love love love
It’s easy
All you need is love,
all you need is love,
all you need is love, love,
love is all you need

The world tries to define love. Thebut nothing comes close to how the bible defines and talks about love.

The bible says that God is love and love is God.

It says that Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Now, as you know, we have been spending this past week in prayer on the theme of family, the family of God. Praying for each other, that we would be united and undivided, that our love for one another would increase and become ever stronger.

And there have been 2 things that have really stood out as we have prayed together that I feel God really wants to communicate to us afresh at the start of 2016 on this subject of church family.

  • That loving one another has a source
  • That loving one another takes effort

Loving one another has a source

It comes as no surprise that the source of love is God our Father. That God demonstrated His love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

When we were praying together last Sunday, we heard the Lord invite us once again to come and eat, to come and drink, to sup with Him, to come as we are and not to harder our hearts to him. The welcome of the Lord is one of love. The invitation is to experience the love of God in the form of an intimate 1:1 relationship.

As the book of Romans says,

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Who else would be so patient with us, but Christ. That He would wait for us to come to an understanding that He loves us.

That He would be so kind as to take our sins and pay the penalty for them on our behalf.

That He would be so humble as to come to earth from His home in glory and live among us to reveal and demonstrate the Father’s love for us.

That He would be so selfless in giving Himself willingly for us, the righteous for the unrighteous

That He would be willing to forgive and remember no more our sin against Him – that our sin would be removed as far as the east is from the west

That He would delight in me in finding the truth – that I have come to know the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that I have come to the Father through Him and Him alone. That He would delight in me in finding the truth

Only when we realise afresh what Christ has done for us because of love, do we begin to get a grasp of how we are to love those around us. That we may love others as Christ loves us. Freely freely we have received His love, freely, freely we give the love that He has shed abroad in our hearts.

Because loving one another has a source and that source is the Lord

O Lord, reveal afresh in 2016 your love for each one of us, that your love for us would compel us and motivate us and be the standard in our love for one another.

Loving one another takes effort

Loving one another does not just happen. It takes effort. There is a little phrase ‘make every effort’ that occurs 9 times in the New Testament.

Three times it relates to our salvation – make every effort to enter through the narrow door and make every effort to enter into that rest; make every effort to remember these things (that is the gospel)

Three times it relates to our lifestyle – make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; make every effort to confirm your calling and election; and make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

and

Three times it relates to how we are to be with one another – make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification; make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy

I’m not sure if you like statistics but I found it very interesting that 3 times it is used in the context of our relationship to God, three times in the context of our living for God and three times in the context of our relationship with others. It would seem that Christ needs us to pay special attention to these 3 areas of our lives and ensure they are right.

In other words, if we want to be people that live for Jesus, we need to take time to cultivate our relationship with God, we need to work hard at living as God intends AND we need to put the same effort into making sure we are at peace with one another – that word peace used each time in that context – make every effort.

From time to time my children will raise a complaint against Karen & I saying something like – we always have that to eat or why do we always have to do such and such a thing. Ever heard that kind of statement? Of course the word ‘always’ in that context does not mean all the time, every time, but is an expression to say that it feel like we do something a lot so much and that its becoming a bore.

One of the things I am always challenged on in respect of love towards one another is when at the end of that passage we read in 1 Corinthians when it says love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love Never fails.

And when we deal with each other – we say thing like he’s always moaning about the weather, or she’s always saying inappropriate things, or he’s always up front, or she’s always listening into conversations, or he’s never on time, or she never helps out. And what we tend to do in our language is use the word always in the context of negative things that others are doing, and use the word never in the context of positive things that that we think they should be doing.

But the emphasis in the scripture is that love in it’s purest form is always, every time, all the time in the context of the positive. And I the context of loving one another, Love always, always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres each other. There is an effort that is needed to strive towards loving one another in the way that Christ loves us which is always, because He who started a good work in us will bring it to completion.

Because Love never fails. God does not see us as failures, but precious and valued, so we are to be with others. Yes we all have negative aspects to us but love does not focus on the negative but always focuses on the positive – of protecting each other, trusting each other, hoping with and for each other, persevering with each other.

The Lord reminded us at the Tuesday prayer meeting that there is the term you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. We are the family of God, but the Lord reminded us, that He chose us to be a family, to be a church, to be His body in this place and that we are to look to Him, to look to the source, not to each other, as the examples of love. Yes it will take humility,effort and sacrifice, Because when we look to each other to follow examples of love, each of us will fall short, but when we look to Christ – we see what we are to strive towards.

Loving one another takes effort even in the family! We may not like what family members do or say but that does not stop us loving them.

Here is one of the best definitions for love in action. This is again a standard for us. It’s from Romans 12, from verse 9. It says this.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

It is a challenge. These are not my words, these are the words from His word.

So in conclusion.

Loving one another has a source – the Lord himself and He is once more beckoning us to come to Him and experience once again that pure perfect unconditional love that He has for each one of us as revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Do you know of His love? Have you accepted His love? Do you experience His love? That acceptance, that kindness. God is love and love is God.

But loving one another does not just happen by sitting revelling in the love of God. God is calling us to make every effort to love one another because that is going to bring about peace and blessing among us. It’s going to let people know that we are His disciples.

But the standard is high. It’s a standard of always, every time all the time. It’s a standard that goes against the standards of this world. It’s a standard that calls us to be like Jesus. To be holy as he is holy. To love others as He loves us.

Is it possible. not on our own but Praise the Lord, He sent a helper. The Holy Spirit within us. With God, all things are possible. Love, as the bible describes it and explains it, never fails and we have the privilege of being part takers in that work, part of something that never fails.

And the wonderful thing is that He chooses to use imperfect people like you and me to show his perfect love to others. Glory to His Name.

I sense in my Spirit that God is asking us to renew afresh our commitment to love one another this year. He is not saying we are terrible at it, He’s not saying we are brilliant at it, He is saying there is always room for improvement. And the expectation in God at the start of this year is that our love for one another will grow, not only in our prayer for one another, and in our care for one another but in our actions to and our interactions with one another.

 

21Sep/15

Love is the most excellent way

1 Corinthians 13

And now these three remain: faith hope and love. But the greatest of these is love!

Faith is still absolutely vital.  All through scripture faith is vital for our salvation, vital for pleasing God, But love is more important

Hope.  We need hope. If no hope then we are in a dark and desperate condition.  We have a hope that is steadfast and sure.  Hope is glorious.  But love is more important

End of chapter 12 says.. And now I will show you a more excellent way….

Chapter 12 is fabulous because it’s all about body ministry and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  All needed, all good, all give glory to Jesus.   But there is the most excellent way.

God moves in the most excellent way. The way of love!

1. The law. 5 books.   Hangs off 2 things: love God and love your neighbour.   The most excellent way

2. Dealings with Israel.  Jer 31:3 .  God loves them with an everlasting love.  Despite everything, God goes the most excellent way.  Hosea shows how much God loves His people

3. Life of Jesus.  Summed up in John 3:16

4. The church.  Summed up in Gal 6:14.  All about the love of Jesus displayed by the cross

5. Character of God. The river from Genesis to Revelation, all the names of God that displays His love.  John says this God is love.

6. Life of service.  John 21.  God wants to know if we will love Him before we serve Him

What love isn’t and what love is?

 Isn’t Is (always) 
 Envious  Patient
 Boastful  Kind
 Proud  Protective
 Rude  Hopeful
Self-seeking Trusting
Evil Persevering
Keeps no record of wrongs (forgiving)
Glorifying

 

Bad news!

  • We are to love one another
  • Love our neighbour
  • Love the unlovely

Because that means we have to be patient kind etc….  That’s bad news! How am I going to be able to fulfil it?

Good news!

It’s God love in us and through us that does it for us! Eph 3:17-19

Generations change.  The love of God does not. Love crosses generations. Crosses cultures, etc. We need the love of God more than anything else.  We need faith. We need love more.  We need boldness. We need love more.  We need the Spirit, the gifts, hope, but we need love more.  It is the most excellent way!

11Sep/15

Food Sacrificed to Idols

1 Corinthians 8

How relevant is this today?

Knowledge puffs up but love builds up – key to the passage

Context: for Corinthians there were lots of idols.  People worshipped them. Paul came and the people came to know the true and living God.

3 changes:

1. Worshipped the created to the Creator

2. gods had to be carried around with them to a God who carried them.

3. Costly idols to salvation for free. The price has been paid already

Problem was these new Christians were still going down to the temple.  Food brought to the idols but idols don’t eat!  So this food was eaten by the people.  Some people thought this was wrong so what do they do?  The idol is not a god, so does taking food to it become meaningless?  Also does food bring you nearer to God?  No. So there is nothing wrong with it!

But the principle is this.  Does it draw you closer to God or does it take you away from God.  So bring the principle into everyday life.  Any question in your life – apply the principle!

But with freedom on things that are meaningless comes responsibility. Eating food sacrificed maybe nothing to you but it may cause someone else to sin.

What we do affects someone else.  Its not just between me and the Lord.

So back to key verse: Knowledge puffs up but love builds up

So in the knowledge of my freedom, my actions may not be loving to others.

 

17Nov/14

Introducing One Another

An introduction to relationships

There are over 50 references in the New Testament about how we are to relate to “one another.” Most of these passages address our behaviour, not just our attitudes.

Firstly, we are commanded to Love One Another

• “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

• Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

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

• Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

• And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

• Keep on loving each other as brothers. Hebrews 13:1

• Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

• Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

• Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

• This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. I John 3:11

• And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. I John 3:23

• Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4:7

• Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. I John 4:11

• No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. I John 4:12

• And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 2 John 1:5

Secondly, we are commanded to Be of One Mind with One Another

• Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (Romans 12:16)

• I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10 )

• Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. (1 Thessalonians 5:13)

• Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)*

*The word “harmony” means literally to be “of one mind” or to be “likeminded.”

Thirdly, we care commanded to be Bearing with One Another

• So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. (1 Corinthians 11:33)

• . . .so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (1 Corinthians 12:25)

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

• Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

In the last verse, “bearing with” one another is literally “to hold up.” Additionally, it conveys the ideas of “to endure, to bear with, put up with,” either in relationships or circumstances. In the context of Ephesians 4:2, the word points us to four qualities that are needed to “bear with” one another: humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

Our natural tendency is to be provoked by others especially when they do not share our ideas or convictions. When we cling to our desires rather than the well being of others, unity is threatened and we are in danger of hurting others.

Instead of getting provoked, Paul instructs us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Being kind and compassionate means doing whatever is beneficial and benevolent to others. Forgiving one another is extending grace, treating others as Christ treats us.

Fourthly, we are to Encourage One Another

• Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

• Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

• But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)

• And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

When Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians church they were facing severe trials and persecutions (1 Thessalonians 1:6 and 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4). And yet Paul told them that they not only had the ability, but also the responsibility to encourage one another and to show their support for each other.

Every Christian is to be involved in the process of building up other Christians. The word “encourage” in the above verses is the Greek word “parakaleo” which translates as “comfort” or “encourage.” The word can also mean “to summon, or to call to one’s side to give aid” as one who comes alongside another to give aid, strength, comfort, and courage.

Fifthly, we are to Come Together With One Another

• Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another (NIV) Hebrews 10:25a

• I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)

• Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:19)

• Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

• Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25a)

Hebrews 10:24 says: “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” The Greek text literally translates: “let us consider one another to stimulate (incite, promote) to love and good works.” The word “consider” is the Greek word “katanoeo” which means “to consider attentively, to perceive, to observe.” The author of Hebrews is calling us to take notice or pay attention to people so that we might better understand each other’s needs and pain. That way we can minister to those needs with a listening ear, an open caring heart, an encouraging word, and loving actions. But, to be able to do this we need to come together with one another.

Sixthly, we are to Greet One Another

• Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings. (NIV) Romans 16:16

• All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. (1 Corinthians 16:20)

• Greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:12)

• Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:14)

The command to “greet one another with a holy kiss” is found four times in the New Testament. The Greek word that is translated “greet” means “to greet or to welcome,” but the basic idea seemed to be “to embrace.” In the New Testament epistles “a holy kiss” was a sign of love, affection, and genuine interest in others. “A holy kiss” is different within each culture. Here in the UK it would be a warm hand shake, an arm around the shoulder, or a hug. But, however we extend “a holy kiss” today; we are encouraged to greet one another warmly and genuinely.

Seventhly there are Yet More One Another Commands

• Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

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

• Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

• Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

• Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else Seek after what is good for one another (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

• Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. show hospitality (1 Peter 4:9)

• Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

• Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

• But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

And finally there are some Negative One Another Commands

• Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way (NIV) Romans 14:13

• Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:26)

• Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9)

• Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. (James 4:11)

• Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)

In conclusion

We have to learn how God thinks. Then, in faith we apply His Word as the Spirit shows us. Embracing all of the one another passages is embracing God’s viewpoint or attitudes towards life and one another. When we have the mind of Christ. . .we think with His values. . .we possess His vision. . .and we allow Him to change our attitudes which in turn will change our actions toward one another.

On 4th October 2009, the Lord said this to us through a prophetic word, “…I would ask you stay close to one another, discuss things with each other, pray with one other, bear one another’s burdens and that you listen to the Lord your God for if you listen you will hear my voice above all the confusion … my Word to you is that you stick together, talk to one another, love one another. Allow me by my Spirit to even bring words of rebuke, words of comfort, words of encouragement, words of love, words of compassion, that we listen, listen for my voice”

Cain fell out with his brother Abel and Cain killed Abel. When the Lord inquired concerning Abel, Cain’s response was: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). This is a question we would do well to ask ourselves today…are we our brother’s keeper?

Do we have a responsibility to watch out for and care for one another? The overwhelming answer from scripture is “Yes”.

Our relationships with one another are important for all of us – it’s God’s desire that we have a relationship with one another that goes past the superficial: i.e. beyond the surface talk of this and that of things and bits. That means being vulnerable with each other.

Each of us has a close circle of friends, but how did they become that close circle?

The answer is because we choose to be vulnerable with them, or they choose to be vulnerable with us. Someone needs to make the move in any relationship and the challenge is – will we?