As Believers in Christ, we all belong to the family of God – one family, the same family. And, like our birth families, we don’t get to decide who’s in the family and who’s not. Each family is appointed by God, and he doesn’t consult us on the matter. He determined it before the foundation of the earth. Nevertheless, we must learn to live with each member in love and harmony. That goes for both our natural families as well as our church families. However, one of the most prevalent problems we see today in the church at large is the loss of regard, respect and love for our fellow Believers.
Unfortunately, we the church, participate in interpersonal activities that create dissension rather than unity. Often times we are quicker to make assumptions, comparisons, criticisms and gossip than we are to compliment, encourage, comfort and inspire. However, blessing and love are needed to build up and restore instead of cursing and tearing down. God’s heart is for us to operate in love toward each other. 1 Peter 2:17 says “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king (leaders).” And it’s not an option! John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
God hates it when we talk about His kids (Prov 6:19)! This topic is mentioned so many times throughout the Bible – over and over again. When God reiterates a command in His Word, it’s important to Him and it should be to us too. When God repeats Himself we need to pay attention and take heed. Matthew 7 says that we should not judge or we will be judged in the same way that we judge. God is very serious about this topic. His heart is for people and He loves us. We were all made in His image, and when we talk badly about others, we are talking badly about God. When we disparage a brother or sister, we disparage God.
How do we as parents feel when someone is mean toward our child? The hair rises up on our necks, our blood starts pumping… something rises up in us. It’s the Mama Bear Syndrome, “don’t you hurt my baby!” Am I right? We do that, don’t we? I’m sure we’ve all experienced that at some point as a parent. Well, that is exactly how God feels about us. He’s very protective of us and has good plans for us (Jer 29:11). He’s grieved when one of his children is slandered by another. I liken it to when siblings fight. As parents, we don’t like to see our children fight or argue or throw names around. It grieves us because we want them to simply be nice and get along. Well, so does God. And the sad part of it is that we are adults, and we should know better.
Remember in Acts when Paul was persecuting the Believers? He was slandering them, persecuting them and even killing them, and what did God say to him when He knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus? He said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME (emphasis added)? Paul said “Who are you, Lord?” and God replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” God didn’t say Paul was persecuting his people, He said he was persecuting HIM! When we hurt or slander others, we also afflict God. Remember in the Word where it says that when we give a drink to a stranger, we give one to God as well (Matt 25:40). It works both ways.
When we sling mud we’re actually doing the enemy’s work for him. WE become the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10). We also need to remember that when we speak negatively about others, our hypocrisy drives unbelievers from God instead of to God. And who could blame them? We profess love, but demonstrate hate. That won’t draw anyone to God.
But rather, we as Christians, should be all about blessing people, lifting people, encouraging people. Our goal in general, as we relate to others, should be to help them walk out the plan and destiny God has for them. We need to sow into people – love, compassion, help, kindness, grace, strength, encouragement, and destiny. We need to extend to everyone the grace God graciously extends to us every day. The Word says His mercies are new every day (Lamen. 3:22-23). Each day is a new day with the Lord. So the question is, are OUR mercies new every day? Do WE extend grace to others? We need to follow Jesus’ example.
Romans 14:5-7 instructs us: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Unity in the body of Christ is the key to pleasing God and seeing his blessings and power flow, as we read in Psalm 133:1-3: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head…. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
The reason the early church was so successful and observed numerous miracles, was because of the unity of Believers. It created an atmosphere that opened the door for God to move in power. In Acts, it says the disciples all joined together constantly in prayer. Remember, that was even before the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. “Joined together” in the Greek, means “same mind or spirit”, and “with one accord”. Their minds, affections, desires, and longings were focused together in prayer with astonishing singularity, agreement and constancy until the Holy Spirit descended from heaven filling and empowering their lives with the witness and ministry of Jesus.
The unity and love of the early church provides a model for us by which to live and treat our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to heed that example and extend the olive branch to our fellow Believers, accepting and embracing our differences. We are all children of God and, therefore, brothers and sisters, each uniquely made in His image.
The Bible says that we can accomplish many works for the Kingdom, but if they are not performed in love, they achieve nothing. Paul reminds us that the greatest expression we can offer anyone is love (1 Cor. 13). So as we interact with others, let’s choose to be the blessing, let’s choose to encourage. Lets remember that God so loved us that he gave his son to us (John 3:16). That’s the kind of love we should offer others. Finally, let’s yield to Paul’s directive to, “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen, Ephesians 4:29. Amen!
Article Written By: Kim Shattell