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As I read this Bible passage, I was reminded that living together in harmony with others, even other Christians, takes both encouragement and endurance. It takes the encouragement that only God can give us to love them when it is inconvenient and uncomfortable.
It takes endurance as well. How often do we need dogged patience and endurance with someone. It may be simply a habit they have that is irritating. Or it may be something much more difficult like their barbed comments that they insist are only jokes but always seem to be at our expense. It is difficult to be around people like that. We would rather run the other direction! But often, God places them right in our path on a regular basis for His good purposes.
We have to find a way to get along with them, to live in harmony with them. It is rarely easy. But according to this benediction, we are promised that if we endure and follow God’s encouragement to live in harmony with that person, we will find ourselves in one voice, glorifying God. Isn’t that amazing? There is actually a reward for doing it in the here and now.
What would revival look like if it came?
Last week, I read about some people praying for revival. Of course, it isn’t difficult to find people praying for revival. It is a good thing. I’m not knocking it at all. But I wonder if our prayers for revival need to also to include prayers for our relationships with some of these difficult people in our lives, We need to be praying to endure and persevere in our relationships with people that are difficult. This benediction seems to indicate that this is how we bring glory to God…by living in harmony with each other so that with one voice we will glorify God. This may be a major key toward revival. Do you remember the passage in I John where he says:
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us,
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him,
how does God’s love abide in him?
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
I John 3:16-18 ESV
It is one of many that tells us that the way the world around us will know we are Christians is how we love other Christians. There are also places in the Bible that talk about the importance of loving other humans. I’m just glad for the places that talk about how we love fellow Christians. The way we show our love for fellow Christians is one of the ways we can tell whether we are truly a Believer or not. It gives a lie to those who say, “I love unbelievers, it’s the Christians I can’t stand!” (or some version of it.)
If we think that way, we need to seriously consider whether we are a Christian. Startling words for sure! We need to think about who these people are that we are defining as Christians. Just because they call themselves that doesn’t mean they are. Take a read through I John. The whole purpose of this short book is to help us understand for sure if we are a Christian or not. It is a helpful book for that. Not once does it tell you to know the date you asked Christ into your life…did you know that?
ChangePoint: Make some time to read through I John. How can you know you are a Christian? The “rules” are quite different than some of the ones you have often heard. Think about how true faith shows itself in the life of a genuine Christian. What shows in your life? Jot down some notes regarding your thoughts…people who are difficult to love, ask God to help you love them better, give you insight into ways you can love them better. If you are a perfectionist, ask God to give you insight into the difference between the simple need for growth the the absence of life in you. I am not here to add guilt unnecessarily. It is not my job. But I don’t want to encourage false pride either. Ask God to make clear what your situation is. He will do it.