God is our Father and we are His children. The world should be able to discern that we belong to God. Not by our “I love Jesus” t-shirt and bumper sticker, but by our actions and our words. They are watching us. God’s word says in John 13:35 AMP, “By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].” We start by loving one another. We are in the last days, time is speeding up. God promised to make the end quick, to shorten the time of suffering.
In Romans 13:12-14 NIV, Paul writes to the Church in Rome. (Notice this is written to believers.) “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
I know most of us aren’t carousing, we don’t make a habit of getting drunk and we aren’t cheating on our spouses. (And if you are STOP!). So we can move on to the next couple of things, dissension and jealousy.
Dissension means -disagreement that leads to discord. Some synonyms for dissension are, disagreement, difference of opinion, dispute, conflict, friction, strife, discord, antagonism, and infighting.
Far too many churches have been torn apart by these very things. We may not be experience these things at this moment, but I guarantee you we have in the past, and Satan doesn’t have any new strategies. He uses whatever has worked before. We have to be diligent. Preventative medicine is the best medicine. He uses the “conquer and divide” tactic quiet frequently in homes and churches, even nations. Jesus told us, “A house divided cannot stand.”
Jealousy means – the act of feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages. Some synonyms for jealous are, envious, covetous, and desirous.
Jealousy can be a cause for dissension. It rears its ugly head on the praise and worship team, on the usher and nursery teams. One wants to lead and is asked to serve. One wants recognition for serving, but is asked to serve behind the scenes. We look at those who seemingly “have it all” and want what they have without walking the path they had to walk to get it. Worse of all, we see God blessing others and think they don’t deserve it, or that we are somehow more deserving.
Instead we should be happy for blessings, no matter how, when, or to whom they come. All good gifts come from the Father, to His glory. He makes it rain on the just and the unjust. He chooses. Thank God, because we would so mess it all up. If we are supposed to pray for God to even bless those who persecute us, how much more should we be praying for one another?
Romans 13 goes on to say in verse 19, “So then let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Mutual- when they are edified, we are edified. Why? Because we are all part of the same body.
Instead of judging one another, we need to be helping and encouraging one another. Galatians 6:2-5,” Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” Paul is not contradicting himself here. We are to bear one another’s burdens and we are all responsible to bear our own burden.
Let’s look at it this way. In the natural, if we saw a little child trying to carry a load that was just too big and too heavy for them to handle, any one of us would take the load, take their hand, and take them where they needed to go. But if we continue to carry their whole loads as they grow, now they’re 5, then 10, then20…what’s going to happen? They will never get strong, never mature. Spiritually speaking, Jesus is the One who came along first and took our whole load, the entire burden, took our hand, and took us to the throne of grace. Then, in His wisdom, He allows us to go through some tuff stuff. It is to strengthen our faith, to learn to trust Him.
But, thankfully, He doesn’t leave us there. He knows that sometimes the load is just too heavy to carry alone. Instead of trying to play God and taking someone’s whole load, we are to come along side and help, to ease some of the burden. We do that by building them up, encouraging them and sometimes taking one small package of the big load. We help; we don’t do it for them. Just as we can’t obtain salvation for them, we can’t carry their load. In the same way we pray for the lost to receive salvation, show them Jesus by our words and actions, and even sometimes get to lead them to Christ, we also help our brothers and sisters by doing the same things. Pray for them, show them how to be strong by our own words and deeds, and always turn them to Jesus, their true strength and help.
Romans 15:1-2 AMP “We who are strong [in our convictions and robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak-we ought to help carry the doubts and the qualms of others-and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us make it a practice to pleas (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him-that is, to strengthen him and build him up spiritually.”
We lay hold of God’s word. Have a blessed hope in His ability to fulfill His promises and then show others how to do it. Hebrews 10:23 AMP “So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess, and our acknowledgment of it, for He who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.”
Verses 24 goes on to say, “And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities.” We have to be in relationship with our brothers and sisters. Keeping our eyes open to what they may be going through. Each of us also has to be humble enough to ask for help. Not expecting someone else to handle our every problem, but to come along side to pray for and shore up the week places. If there is a need we can meet, give a hand. If you are on the receiving end, don’t make it a habit of running to people. Run to God first and give Him some time to work things out, in you and in your situation. Our timing isn’t His.
When we have unity in the body, when we are joined together in bonds of love and of peace, God gets the glory. Romans 15:6-7 NAS “That with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the Glory of God.” Verse 14 AMP, “Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also.”
Our unity bears fruit. We will see the fruit of our labor, not just in the future or in heaven one day, but right now. Our churches will be full, not of people coming out of religious tradition, but because they love God. Colossians 1:10-12 NIV, “So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” We are coming into a time when we will need the strength and power of God. We will need endurance and patience. He has already qualified us through His shed blood; it’s time for our inheritance.
A final scripture, Colossians 3:12-17.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”