How to Love One Another... Even Other Christians
- Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Forgive one another. Since God has forgiven you, He expects you to forgive others, with His help. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving people who’ve hurt you; you likely never will. Instead, decide to forgive, and your feelings will eventually follow as God changes your heart through the forgiveness process. Understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing wrong behavior. It simply means that you’re entrusting the situation to God. Even if the people who’ve wronged you don’t apologize and repent, choose to forgive them anyway, knowing that by doing so you’ll be giving God the gift of your obedience and freeing yourself from the poison of bitterness.
Confess sin to and pray for one another. Regularly own up to the reality of your sin, and confess it to God and other Christians. Listen when other Christians confess their sins to you. Let the knowledge that you’re all desperately in need of God’s grace draw you closer together. Embrace the mercy, forgiveness, and hope that God offers you. Pray for each other’s concerns, seeking healing for your brokenness. Rather than praying only for certain people who seem more worthy than others, be generous with your prayers – willing to intercede for anyone.
Serve one another. Follow Christ’s example by counting others better than yourself and seeking their welfare. Be willing to serve however God leads you, whether or not the opportunities He urges you to take make use of your gifts. Simplify your life so you have enough time to make service a regular part of your schedule. Allocate a regular place in your budget for generous financial giving. Develop the talents God has given you so you’ll be able to use them well when you’re faced with opportunities to use them in service work. And check your motives: Make sure you’re serving out of a desire to love God back for loving you, rather than to try to prove something to yourself or others or to get something from the people you serve.
Encourage one another. Ask God to help you live with integrity so you can encourage others with a good example of what faith in action looks like. Carefully consider the impact of your attitudes and actions on other people; strive to be positive. Reach out to discouraged people in creative ways, such as by writing them cards or letters, or inviting them to meals at your home. Catch people doing something right, and let them know that you’ve noticed and appreciate their efforts. Whenever you spend time with your friends, do all you can to encourage each other.
Comfort one another. Suffering can unite people in powerful ways because it reveals their common need for God. Divisions and conflicts often appear trivial in the face of suffering. Make room in your life for broken and grieving people. Whenever you encounter someone who has suffered a loss, think and pray about what you can do to help: from providing child care, meals, or job training, to simply listening to them share their stories. Don’t minimize, exaggerate, or trivialize grief. Instead, point grieving people to the source of real hope – Christ – and let your shared hope in Him draw you closer to each other.
Bear one another’s burdens. Accept the reality of that following God’s call to bear other’s burdens will be costly, inconvenient, and disruptive. Ask God to help you do so anyway. Be available and flexible for when He leads you to help bear someone’s burden. Seek to help burdened people take responsibility for their problems and get back on their feet, rather than fostering dependence on you. Hold them accountable for their attitudes and actions while providing the support they need to grow. Realize that it’s not possible for you to help everyone you know who needs help; God only expects you to help the people He leads you help – and only in the specific ways He guides you to help them. Pray for discernment about who you should help, and how. Combine a sympathetic attitude with good judgment. As you help others, keep in mind that you’re not superior to them. When someone helps you, remember that you’re not inferior to them. Realize that everyone needs help at various times. Let your shared experiences of helping and being helped deepen your love for the fellow believers around you.
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