|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
The Bible has much to say about our relationship with God. For example, we are to love God (Mark 12:30). We are to obey God (John 14:15), which is how we demonstrate our love for Him. Our relationship with God also includes reverence (Hebrews 12:28). Yet, the Bible has much to say about our relationships one with another. For a moment let’s focus on those words “one another.”
Love One Another (John 15:12, 17)
There are different kinds of love mentioned in the Bible. The word “love” in the Greek rendered “agapao” is defined as a love of action. We must have this type of love toward our brethren. It is a love of choice. I will choose to love my brother because he is a fellow citizen in the kingdom.
Forbear One Another (Ephesians 4:2)
To forbear means to bear or endure, in other words to put up with someone. In the context of my brethren, this means that I must love brethren that I do not even like, and put up with their misgivings and personality quirks that I may not appreciate. A church is a group of people with different backgrounds, interests and personalities. We are not all similar in these areas. However, we have a common bond and a common goal. Thus, we put up with differences of opinion and different temperaments at times because we are forbearing.
Be Kindly Affectionate to One Another (Romans 12:10)
This verse says we are to be affectionate. This means to have a fondness for one another with brotherly love (“phileo”). We prefer each other over friends of the world because of the common bond we have. This indicates that there is more that I must do than just put up with my brothers or sisters in Christ.
Admonish One Another (Romans 15:14)
Admonish means to put in mind, to caution or gently reprove. This will be much easier to do if we have a close relationship. Admonishing is a delicate matter because it must be done with caution and with the proper attitude. That being said, it must be done, and it is crucial to the success of any healthy congregation. We need to watch out for our fellow brethren and bring them back when they step out of line with God’s commands.
Serve One Another (Galatians 5:13)
The word “serve” here means to be in voluntary bondage, a willing slave. We are to be willing slaves to Christ, but we are also to be willing slaves to our brethren. Let us look for opportunities to help those we love the most. Often people are more than willing to help their physical family, how much more, then, should they we be willing to help their spiritual family (Galatians 6:10)?
Forgive One Another (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:31-32)
If we expect to get forgiveness, we must be willing to give forgiveness to our brethren when they come to us in repentance. This verse says, “If any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” We must show mercy to others if we expect to receive mercy from Almighty God (James 2:13).
May we be challenged to think each day about our relationship with God. However, let us also be challenged to focus on the special relationship we are to have with one another.
Most of you know that since brother Mack Lyon retired that brother Phil Sanders is the primary speaker on the Sunday morning presentation, “In Search of the Lord’s Way.” Although I didn’t hear all of his sermon that particular day, the title above came from a closing that Phil Sanders recently made on his Sunday morning TV lesson. I couldn’t help but think how simple but how profound that statement was. Let’s consider some of the ramifications of that advice.
When we think of “giving up,” let’s consider a long distance runner in a race in which he could receive a big reward. That reward might be monetary, a trophy or simply recognition as being the best in the race. Whatever the reward, that runner will do everything within his power to prove to himself and to those around that he can endure and finish that race. He won’t easily give up, even at the expense of perhaps suffering physical issues.
Consider that during the race the runner may develop severe pain in his extremities, or he may get too hot and exhausted. Perhaps he feels that he just can’t go on and feels he is too “given out” to continue in the race. Again, even if a runner doesn’t win or place in the race, most athletes will continue in the race just for the satisfaction of proving to themselves and others that they can run the full course.
We’ve heard or witnessed runners “give in” at the end of the race by falling prostrate at the finish line. They were determined to finish the race—what an admirable trait! Because of the stress to his body that he is feeling, the runner may “give in” to the stress and strain. He may not be able to finish the race, and he must feel great defeat and possibly shame at not being able to finish what he started.
What about God’s children running the earthly race to please Him? When one hears and obeys the Gospel, there are many problems and changes to face. The world doesn’t easily accept those who become Christians because they like worldly things. They can put pressure on God’s people and present enticements to sin that sometimes may seem just too much to resist. As Moses was leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land, we see the result of a nation of people who “gave up.” God told them “because all these men have seen My glory and miracles which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness… and have not hearkened to My voice, surely they shall not see the land which I promised to their fathers” (Numbers 14:22). The Israelites “gave up” on ever reaching the Promised Land, and as a result, only Joshua and Caleb received that blessing.
Those Israelite people “gave out.” They wanted to go to the Promised Land, but they wanted to arrive “now.” “All the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron and said, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt or… in the wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2). They wanted the blessing of a new land, but they didn’t want to wait for it because they gave out in their travels and the frustration of not being settled.
Sometimes God’s people, old and young alike, “give in” to the pleasure of sin. Moses was a great example of not “giving in” as we read in Hebrews 11:25. “Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Moses could have figuratively had the “world at his feet,” but in view of eternity, he chose the better part of serving God. That’s what faithful Christians will do, too.
Christians must not give up, give out or give in. The reward is just too great for not giving up, giving out or giving in. The faithful have this promise: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). The first thing that Christians must always do is “first give themselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5), and when that is truly done, God will provide the strength for not giving up, giving out or giving in!