One Another: Be Kind

Another instruction we are given about how to get along with one another is to be kind to one another.

Eph. 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Paul starts by describing the way things SHOULDN’T be. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice don’t belong in God’s church. Church should not be a place where everyone is fighting all the time. Unfortunately, most churches are made up of humans rather than angels. Most of us have seen the tension that sometimes exists whenever two ‘brothers’ are in the same room. Many of us have experienced or at least heard of the viciousness that often occurs in business meetings or even in elder’s meetings. What can we do about this? The first answer is that if everyone is dedicating themselves to serving their brethren and being in subjection to them (the subject of the last post) then fighting will rarely occur. The second answer is even more simple: be kind to each other.

Kindness needs no great definition. It just means doing good. Paul joins kindness with being tenderhearted. This carries with it the twin ideas of being compassionate and merciful. So, if you see your brother in need, you should want to help him out and if your brother has been offensive, your first inclination should be to overlook his fault, rather than pounding on him. That pairs quite well with the next thing mentioned, forgiving one another. Christians don’t hold grudges. Especially not against other Christians. To sum up, Paul says to do good for your brothers, look to help them out, show mercy and forgive when they are wrong.

There is more on this general topic in 1 Thess. 5:15 “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Again, there is no place for vengeance or grudges in the Church. We are to forgive and love and be kind/do good. The point of interest to me in this passage is it doesn’t just say to do good, but to SEEK to do good. We aren’t to just take advantage of opportunities that might pop up, we are to actively look for chances to do good for our brethren. Much like Heb. 10:24-25 says we are to consider one another to figure out how to stir each other up to love and good works, exhorting one another, Paul tells the Thessalonians to seek ways to do good. I should always ask myself, “What does my brother need from me?”

Christianity is far more than showing up for church services and Bible study a few times a week.

How can I show kindness to my brothers and sisters? Peter tells us one way. 1 Pet. 4:9 “using hospitality one to another without murmuring”. Hospitality is not just having people over for dinner. In the days before hotels at every interstate exit, travelers were taken in and cared for by the people of the town. Often without any prior introduction. Hospitality was considered an honor and one of the highest virtues. Remember how Abraham hustled to prepare a meal for the traveling ‘men’ he saw walking in his direction and begged them for the honor of providing for them (Gen. 18)? Rarely do we get the chance to show this type of hospitality anymore. Travelers have reservations waiting for them. We can, however, be welcoming to any visitors that join us to worship. We can greet them, introduce them to our towns, answer any questions they may have, and generally make them feel like they’ve discovered a home away from home. Almost everybody has a story of an unfriendly church they encountered while traveling. We don’t want that story to be of us. And if we ever encounter people who have been stranded, we should be among the first to offer them assistance.

Another bit of kindness I can show is found in Romans 12:10 “In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another.” We are to prefer one another. The word for “in honor” is also translated precious or price. We are to esteem our brethren as precious and put them first in our lives. Their needs come before the needs of worldly acquaintances. My free time is spent with them, instead of in the world. I send business their way. In every way socially, in business, in help given, in all ways, my brothers come first. In subjecting myself to them (last post) I put them before even myself.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
  • figpicker
    finally remembered my password and signed on so I could say that this series has b een very well done
    by figpicker at 07/18/17 2:51PM
  • iamyourfather
    Thanks. Got a few more to go. I hope.
    by iamyourfather at 07/20/17 11:11PM

One Another: Serve

So far we’ve discussed that we are to love one another, edify one another, exhort one another and admonish one another. Now we turn to a topic that is closely related to these, yet is not very popular to think about. We are to serve one another.

Eph. 5:21 “subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.” It is kind of amusing to think of how many sermons are preached about the next verse and how few focus on this one. We are to be in subjection to one another. To be in subjection means to be under the control of another. We are to choose to submit to each other. What’s really interesting is that the word for “be in subjection” actually isn’t in the next verse, referring to wives. Most modern translations which paragraph out the text put a paragraph break between vs 21 & 22. That is probably an error, as the text actually reads “subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ; wives unto your own husbands as unto the Lord.” The implied verb is obviously to be in subjection, but the construction makes the duty to wives just a subset or an example of the duty we all have. And in case you are wondering, yes the word is the same as the one used in Col. 3:18 “Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” In other words, what men expect from their wives, Christ expects us to do for each other.

Wait a minute, now, I’m a free man! I’m not subjecting myself to anyone! I’m an American! Yes, we are free, but that comes with responsibilities. Gal. 5:13 “For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another.” The reason God has made us free – from the burdens of Law, as well as currently as Americans – is not so we can just live it up. Freedom is not for the flesh, but so that we can love each other. It is our love for each other that leads us to be servants for each other. Parents, have you ever felt that you were more servant to your children than parents? No matter how much you raise them to respect authority, to obey you, to be good kids, there are days when all you do is take care of them. When they are young it is diapers, feedings, walkings, dr. appointments, etc. As they grow up it morphs into other things, but they are children, unable to completely take care of themselves and when they need something, they often need it NOW. And because you love them, you give them the service needed. The same is often true of elderly parents who need care from their adult children. We do for them what is best for them. That is the service of love that the Bible teaches. Notice the parallel statements of Paul regarding fulfilling the law. Gal. 5:14 “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” & 6:2 “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Love fulfills the law; bearing each other’s burdens fulfills the law. Love often boils down to bearing each other’s burdens.

This takes humility. Peter acknowledges this: 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resists the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” First, notice that we have another example of being subject to one another in a subset. The younger are to be subject to the older. He goes on to say that we all are to be subject to each other. But, to do this he says we need to gird ourselves with humility. The KJV says “clothe yourself” which is accurate enough, but the idea here is not just getting dressed in something, but dressing in a way to prepare for action. Wrapping yourself in humility is the preparation needed to be subject to each other. Serving here is putting others before self. Being humble enough to not insist on your own way. This is the exact opposite of the 1980’s catchphrase “look out for #1”. We are looking out for others first and “number one” last. “Wait a minute! I’m the chief song leader and the substitute preacher! I’m also the Wednesday night Bible Class teacher. Surely you don’t expect me to serve!” Yes, that is exactly what is expected of me, as well as each of you. Gal. 6:2-3 “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” If I start to think myself too important to serve, I will soon learn otherwise. Remember also our Lord’s words: Luke 17:10 “Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.” Given the price God paid for our ransom, there is no way we can ever “show a profit” for Him. So, who am I to get a big head? I am to serve and be subject to my brethren.

So, How do we do this? Be willing to give in to others. Never compromising the truth, but if you prefer things one way and the other guy prefers it another way, don’t fight about it. Give in and do it his way. Whether or not the Lord’s Supper is before or after the sermon should never cause fights in the church nor in business meetings. Nor should the choice of a hymnal. Nor should the wording on the sign. Nor should. . . clothe yourself in humility and serve. If everyone is looking first to serve, everyone will get along.

As always, Jesus was the perfect example of this. John 13:12-15 “So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.” In an age of unpaved roads, the best transportation being your feet, and everyone wearing sandals, there was a great need to wash off one’s feet upon entering a home. In most homes, water and a towel would be provided and each person would wash his own feet. In the more well-to-do homes, a servant would wash the feet of guests. This was generally a job for the lowliest servant in the household. It was considered a demeaning job. This explains Peter’s reaction in vs 8. He held to Lord in esteem and didn’t want Him debasing Himself for Peter. This understanding makes the Lord’s example even more powerful. “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” If there was ever anyone on the planet who had the right to say “not me, I’m not humbling myself to serve!” it was Jesus. He was Lord. And yet He was humble enough to give the apostles a lesson they needed After all, if the Son of God was willing to take on the most menial task because His brethren needed it, is there anything I shouldn’t be willing to do for my brethren? Why was He so willing? He loved them. vs 34 “love one another; even as I have loved you” Given that He repeats this statement in chapter 15 with a clear reference to the cross, I believe here He is looking back on all the love He has already shown them. He was willing, as Lord and Teacher, to serve His disciples. Can I follow His example?

One Another: Edify, Exhort & Admonish

Having discussed the most basic, all-pervading “one another” command, to love one another, let’s move on to some of the more specific ways we show that love for each other. Some of the “one another” passages that easily group themselves for discussion are those which teach us to edify, exhort and admonish each other: Rom. 14:9, 1 Thess. 5:11, Heb. 3:13, Heb. 10:24, Rom. 15:14, and Col. 3:16. First, let’s discuss what these commands mean.

To edify just means to build up. An edifice is a building, to edify is to build. The Greek word is oikodomeo which means *gasp* to build up. No surprises here. The only other way the word is ever used is if it is literally referring to the construction trade. When we are commanded to edify, we are being commanded to build our fellow Christian’s faith & character.

To exhort, according to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, is to urge strongly, to make urgent appeals, to give warnings or advice. The Greek is parakaleo. This word is translated “exhort” 19 times in the KJV, “beseech” 43 times and “entreat” three times. So the idea of urging and making urgent appeals seems to hold. However, the word is also translated “comfort” 23 times, which might seem odd until you realize that the ESV translates the word “encourage” pretty uniformly. Which makes sense, because when someone is feeling down, we encourage (comfort) them, but when someone isn’t achieving as they should, we encourage (exhort) them to do better. So you can see how the same word can fit in both situations. The meaning of the command to us seems to be to urge our brethren to be what they ought to be.

To admonish is to indicate duties and obligations. To express warning or disapproval especially in a gentle, earnest or solicitous manner. The Greek is noutheteo which means to put in mind of or to remind of something which fits well with the idea of reminding Christians of their duties and also reminding/warning them of the eternal consequences of sin. Notice two things about the English definition: the manner is to be gentle and earnest, and disapproval can be expressed. Is disapproval really a part of Christian life? Well, if we are trying to live pure and holy lives before the Lord, then there are things that we can’t approve of. But disapproval doesn’t mean hatred of the individual. 2 Thess. 3:14-15, “And if any man obeys not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” We can’t approve of his actions. If he continues in them, we are to have nothing to do with him. But this isn’t the result of hate, but of brotherly love: we admonish him with the hope of his repentance. He is not an enemy, but a brother being admonished. So, to admonish our brethren is to remind them of their Christian duties and/or gently warn them of temptations and sins.

Ok, so how do I do this? How do I edify, exhort, and admonish (EE&A)? The first thing to note is that I can’t if I’m too busy condemning my brother. In Romans 14 Paul is writing to a church that is fighting over the permissibility of eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Some believed wholeheartedly that it was a sin. The rest of the church laughed at them for being silly. Both sides were quick to judge, in the sense of passing sentence on the other side. Paul told them in vs 13 “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge ye this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block in his brother's way, or an occasion of falling.” Rather than judging, they needed to make sure they weren’t hurting their brothers. Why? vs 17 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The Church was a lot more important than just eating and drinking. Righteousness, peace and joy were far more important. Therefore, vs 19 “So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.” Instead of condemning each other, the Roman Christians should have been finding ways to make peace and to edify one another. I can’t very well build my brother up if I’m busy tearing him down, now can I?

To properly EE&A, I must also be fully aware of the dangers of sin. The Hebrew writer says in 3:13 “but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”. Sin is tricky. It doesn’t seem all that bad. “I can put just my toe across the line, and I’ll still be ok.” Soon, my whole foot is across the line, and before I know it, I’m standing several yards beyond the line. It keeps sneaking up on you, and never seems that bad. And it hardens you, leading to, as verse 12 calls it, an “evil heart of unbelief.” The more you live in sin, the more you don’t want to listen to or believe the Word of God. Which is why we need to urgently warn our brothers and sisters about sin. Growing up in the piney woods of North Central Florida, I quickly learned to look down at the ground whenever I ventured into the woods. Snakes, especially rattlesnakes, have an uncanny knack for blending into the background. The patterns on their backs make them look just like a pile of dead leaves unless you know what to look for. Whenever we would hike as a group, anyone who saw a snake would immediately warn everyone else in the party. As Christians, we need to know that sin is far more dangerous than any poisonous viper and yell out warnings as we see our brethren nearing danger.

To EE&A, I also must be full of goodness and filled with knowledge. Romans 15:14 “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” Paul was sure they could handle their own admonishment precisely because they were full of goodness and filled with knowledge. Which makes sense. How can I build my brother up according to God’s word if I don’t know God’s word? How can I urge him to his duties if I don’t know what God says his duties are? But knowledge alone can be dangerous. Note 1 Cor. 8:1-3: “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. If any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows not yet as he ought to know; but if any man loves God, the same is known by him.” Knowledge alone can lead to false pride and damage done. Which is why Paul also says that the Romans were “full of goodness”. This is analogous to the love he mentions to the Corinthians. Knowledge, directed by love and goodness, leads to proper EE&A.

Furthering the discussion of the need for knowledge, look at Col 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.” The word is to dwell in you. It is not an occasional visitor; it lives in you. We read and think about it regularly. This leads to teaching and admonishing “in all wisdom”. As mentioned in Romans and 1 Corinthians, knowledge alone isn’t enough. It is to be guided by love, goodness and wisdom. And see how this teaching is done? Through the songs we sing. We often think of the song service as purely praise to God, and it does contain a lot of that, but it is also a great avenue for teaching. If we actually pay attention to what we say, we can be greatly built up and exhorted by the songs we sing. Think about “Prepare to Meet thy God”: “Careless soul, why will you linger wandering from the fold of God. . .” Or “Almost Persuaded”: “Sad, sad that bitter wail ‘almost, but lost’”. How about “Take Time to be Holy”? “speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always and feed on His word.” Or “I Want to Be a Worker for the Lord” or. . . Songs can be powerful. At thirteen, singing the phrase “Lord come quickly” made me wonder if I really wanted Him to come back quickly right then and led directly to me discussing baptism with my parents. Songs are a tool for teaching and admonishment and, given that, song leaders need to take care how they choose the songs we sing.

In order to EE&A, we must also consider one another. Heb. 10:24 “and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works”. The ESV says “to stir up one another”. While the word isn’t used here, isn’t stirring up or provoking to good works the definition of exhortation. (Which word is used in the next verse.) But to do it, I have to consider my brethren. I have to think about them. I have to figure out what each of them needs and how I can best help them. If I never think about my brother, how am I supposed to know how to help him out? We are supposed to be a family that helps each other, not a group that meets a couple of times a week. To be the former, we must take the time and make the effort to consider each other. Also, note the verses preceding vs 24. We are told that Christ has opened a way for us into the Holy Place. The Hebrew writer says that we should therefore 1) draw near with true hearts and full faith, 2) hold fast to our confession, and 3) consider one another. The way to heaven is open, and my job is to walk through the door and bring along as many of my brethren as I possibly can. Draw near, hold fast (that’s me getting there) and consider one another (dragging them along with me). That leads into my final point, that we . . .

EE&A with the knowledge that salvation is already won. 1 Thess. 5:9-11 “For God appointed us not into wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do.” He died for us so we could live with Him. We are not appointed to wrath, but to salvation. “Wherefore” or with that in mind, exhort and edify one another. The door has already been opened. We only have to walk through. The way can be hard, sometimes, and we need to encourage each other with the knowledge that the hardships of this life are temporary. We are appointed to salvation. We just have to keep going.

“Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up”

One Another: Love

God could have saved us through the sacrifice of His Son and then left each of us to find our way to heaven on our own. In His wisdom, however, He created the church so we’d have a family of believers to help us make it. The church was designed to be a family. A place where we don’t have to be as on guard as we do out in the world. A place to receive encouragement as we battle temptations. A place where the older can teach the younger (Titus 2) and where we can find others who have been through what we are currently suffering and can offer advice and exhortation. This family, when it runs as God intended, is far more supportive than most physical families. Unfortunately, men have corrupted God’s family, often acting as if it were an institution where they can garner power, influence and/or wealth. Other local branches spend more time fighting among themselves than they do supporting each other. It is no wonder so much of the New Testament is instruction for how we should be getting along with each other. Depending on exactly how you count it, there are 51 passages in the NT specifically about how we should (or should not) treat one another which use that phrase, “one another”. If nothing else, all the references to “one another” should emphasize that we are connected. We are not individuals; we are of each other, part of a group. The 51 passages encompass 22 different commands about how we treat one another. Everything from forgiveness to exhortation; from kisses to admonishment; from not lying to not “biting and devouring” one another. The most basic command, which is really the underpinning of all the other instructions, is that we are to love one another. If we get that right, all the others will fall into place; if we fail to love, no amount of teaching on the other commands will accomplish anything.

The first thing to note about love is that it is a first principle. 1 John 3:11 “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” John says that the instruction they heard from the first was to love. One of the first things taught to new Christians by the Apostles themselves was love. He repeats himself in his second epistle: 2 John 1:5 “And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.” A lot of churches have “first principle” classes for new converts to teach them the basics of Christianity. According to John, loving each other should be prominent in that class’s curriculum.

That leads right into the next point. Obedience to the truth leads to love. 1 Pet. 1:22 “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently.” Obedience to the truth was “unto” love of the brethren. That is the result of obeying the truth. Notice what else Peter says about brotherly love here: it is to be from the heart. In our culture, we think of the heart as the seat of emotions and so might get the idea that we are to be emotionally attached to our brothers. In the first century, however, the heart was not considered the seat of emotions, but the seat of reason. One thought with the heart. So, the command to love our brothers from the heart isn’t a directive to gooey feelings, but rather to decide to love our brothers by doing what they need. Choose to do good for them. Remember that the famous description of love in 1 Cor. 13 is all about actions. Choose with your heart to love your brothers and sisters and do for them what they need.
Connected to the idea that obeying truth leads to love is the fact that God teaches love. 1 Thess. 4:9 “But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another”. Love is from God and is basic to Christianity.

Love fulfills the Law. Rom. 13:8-10 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” I really enjoy that Paul cites examples of the ten commandments to prove his point. If you love your brother, you won’t murder him. (!) You won’t steal his wife, nor his possessions. Love fulfills the law. If we love each other God as teaches us, we won’t need detailed instructions on how to live our lives.

Our love for each other should continue to grow. 1 Thess. 3:12 “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you”. In this epistle, Paul praises the Thessalonians for their love, but he urges them to continue to increase in that virtue. The word “abound” in this passage means to be over and above. It is also translated as “exceed” and “enough and to spare.” So, our love should not be just barely enough to get by, but should be overflowing toward each other. We should continue to increase in how we show our love to each other. Again, love is action; it is doing for each other. Also notice from the context of this verse that Paul’s next visit combined with their growing love for each other would establish their hearts. Continually growing love of the brethren was as important as an apostolic visit to their continued spiritual health.

Twice Jesus told His apostles to love each other as He had loved them. First was in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Given that His second admonition to love in chapter 15 is clearly linked to the crucifixion, I believe that this particular command was looking back on how He had loved them during His earthly life. Earlier that evening He had humbled Himself to wash their feet. Throughout their association, He had chosen them, taught them, live with them, and was patient with them. Essentially, He put their needs above His wants. That is what He is teaching them to do now. Put each other’s needs above the wants of self. Also, note that love is to be the defining characteristic of Jesus’s disciples. All will know that we are His if we love each other. That, however, logically means that all will know that we aren’t His if we don’t love each other. A church might sing without instrumental music, organize itself according to the NT pattern, and only use its monies as taught in the NT but if they don’t love each other, they aren’t a “sound” congregation. According to Him, not me.

The second time Jesus instructed His apostles to love as He did was in John 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Despite the past tense, this is clearly looking forward to the cross as Jesus mentions dying for others. (Incidentally, God regularly spoke of future events in the past tense in the OT to emphasize how certain His promises were. Jesus doing this here might be yet another indication of His deity.) He died for us. We are to love as He did. We are to love our brethren more than our own lives. They are to be first in everything.

Finally, we cannot please God unless we love one another. 1 John 3:23 “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” The context here is that we are pleasing to God and can ask Him for whatever we need because we keep His commandments. Then the commandment is listed as believing in the Son and loving one another. Wait, did the Holy Spirit through John just put loving one another on a par with believing in the name of Jesus? Yes, He did. Can I be a Christian if I don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God? No, I can’t. Can I be a Christian if I don’t love my brethren? According to this passage, no, I can’t. Then there’s 1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” If I am born of God and know God, I love. If I don’t love I don’t know God. I can’t please Him if I don’t love. Again, in 1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” John has just stated that God’s love led Him to sending His Son to die for us and to be a propitiation of our sins. If He loved us that much, surely we can love each other. And if I can’t love my brother, aren’t I casting aspersions on God’s judgement? If I judge Brother So-and-So to be unlovable, and I know that God has loved him so completely, then I’m setting my judgement up against God’s, aren’t I? “God made a mistake in loving that jerk!” I might want to be careful in acting in a way that posits that idea. Finally, there is 1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” God abides in us only if we love each other. If we want God to be with us, we must love our brethren. Also notice that God’s love for us is only perfected, or completed when we love each other. God loved us, which caused us to love Him, and then taught us to love each other. So, it is God’s love which leads us to love each other, and the work of God’s love isn’t finished until we do love each other.

Don’t leave God’s work unfinished. Love one another.

Tears of Joy

When Dad had his stroke he was out of it for about 24 hours. He memory ran in cycles of a few minutes, then he’d forget everything that had happened and would start over brand new. I had left work when the word came and joined Mom at the hospital. We stayed with Dad until he finally got a room and I then drove Mom home so she could get a few hours of sleep and grab what she needed for an extended hospital stay with Dad. When we got back the next morning, Dad was himself again (mostly). Suddenly, I was overcome. I sat on the window sill and turned my face away for a few moments. I hadn’t realized how much I had been affected by Dad’s illness until he showed definite signs of improvement. I had been busy taking care of Mom, being strong for her, trying to help in whatever way I could and when that need was past, the emotions of almost losing my Dad came rushing on me. Knowing that, yes, he was going to be OK caused a huge emotional release, a more obvious one than the illness itself had.

We see this kind of thing fairly regularly. Someone successfully completes a long, hard journey and once it is clear that the suffering is over then, and only then, do they break down in tears. They never cried through all the years of toil or all the aching miles, but once the trip was completed, they broke down in tears of joy that it was over and everything would be ok. Often when this happens, a close friend or relative will hold them and comfort them “yes, it’s over.” I’ve thought of Rev. 21 in these terms lately. It says, “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes”. Could it be the tears of joy at having finally completed our course and made it to heaven that He will wipe away? “That’s right, you’re here with Me. Everything will be ok.” The verse does go on to mention that death, pain and crying will be no more, so the tears of this life’s pain are definitely in view, but I like the mental picture of God smiling as He hugs me, comforting me as I cry tears of relief and joy, “I’m finally home!”

Matt 25:21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”