By: Joe Stowell, Strength For The Journey
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
I can still remember what it was like to take our family on vacation, only to have the kids in the backseat mar the joy of it all by their bickering and complaining. Who doesn’t remember the disruptive effects of “Dad, she touched me!” or “Mom, he won’t give me a turn!”
If you’ve had that kind of experience, you can imagine how God feels when His children quarrel and complain. Getting along is important to God. Jesus prayed that we would “be one” so that the world would believe He came from the Father (John 17:20-21). And to disciples who were prone to quarreling, He commanded that they love and serve one another (John 13:34-35; Matt. 20:20-28). It should also be noted that among the seven things God hates, He includes “one who sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:19).
So I’m not surprised that the psalmist tells us that when brothers dwell in unity, it’s like “the precious oil upon the head, running down on . . . the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments” (Ps. 133:1-2). In ancient times, the oil of anointing was full of fragrant spices that graced the environment wherever the anointed one went. May the unity that comes from our love and service to one another fragrantly grace our families, churches, and friendships!
When love and kindness rule our lives,
And we are seen as one,
The fragrance of our unity
Has no comparison. —Sper
Christians who get along with each other spread the sweet aroma of Jesus
Getting Along Is Essential
By: George Vink, today.reframemedia
Scripture Reading — 1 Corinthians 1:4-17
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. — 1 Corinthians 1:9
Paul diligently taught that God is faithful, calling people into fellowship with his Son. And for the sake of being faithful witnesses for Christ to the world, it’s essential that all who are called into this fellowship live in unity and harmony.
But things weren’t going that way in the church at Corinth. And Paul minced no words in addressing the problem in this letter to the believers there.
He began his letter noting his thanks to God for the grace and spiritual gifts given them. And after reminding them of God’s faithfulness in calling them into fellowship, Paul appeals to them “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He calls them to “agree with one another,” and he admonishes them, demanding an essential unity of “mind and thought.” There was to be no room for divisions. Instead, love, unity, and harmony are to be the signs of Christ’s presence.
When believers forget what unites them, they focus on externals such as who baptized whom, or who follows which leader, or who comes from what nation, or who has what skin color, or who has the most money. Our harmony is not to be based on our common preferences or interests. Ego-driven divisions have no place among us. Our allegiance to Christ must be expressed in our love for one another. It’s essential!
If you’re like me, you have no shortage of friends who either take supplements or sell them. I have friends who take supplements to lose weight, to gain weight and muscle, to be healthier and to fight off infections. There are supplements for just about everything. My friends who take them talk about the benefits they receive constantly. They understand that to get the complete nutrition their body needs, they have to take these supplements. It’s not so different with our faith.
We constantly need to be giving our spirit nutrition through God’s Word, books that help us grow and godly fellowship. Peter understood that in order to grow our faith, we needed to supplement it. In II Peter 1:5-7 he said, “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self control, and self control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” That’s a lot of supplements.
I love how he said to supplement your faith with a generous provision. That means we shouldn’t hold back on these. We need to load up on them. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use more of any of these. The first thing he said to add to our faith was moral excellence. One version of the Bible translated that as goodness. Be good to others. Show the love of Christ through your actions. The next was knowledge. I believe we are to be knowledgeable in the Word of God as well as other areas of life. In order to be a more effective witness for Christ, you have to be more knowledgeable about what others believe and why.
The next one isn’t one many of us like to add. Self control is a tough pill to swallow. We expect it out of others, but rarely hold ourselves accountable for it. Having self control helps us to live more effective lives. He coupled self control with patient endurance. Those two work together. We need to be patient as God is working in our lives. It’s not easy and often it hurts, but the end result is beautiful. Don’t run from what God is doing. Exercise self control and patiently endure all that a God is doing. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your faith.
Next, Peter said to supplement our faith with godliness. He saved the harder things for last I think. It’s important that we live godly lives so others can see a difference in how we live. A life with supplemented faith lives differently than a life of no faith. To that, he told us to add brotherly affection. Jesus said that the world would know us by our love for one another. It’s time we quit arguing with other believers on our differences and started finding the common ground we share. When we do that, we will begin to replace the arguments with brotherly affection.
Peter capped off all of this with an important one. The final thing in this list to supplement our faith with is love for everyone. We’ve got to find ways to demonstrate the love that Jesus showed those who didn’t agree with Him and put Him on the cross. He didn’t go to the cross yelling about how they were going to Hell. Instead, He was praying for their souls and offering to meet them in Paradise. We’ve got to find a way to show that kind of love to those who don’t agree with our faith or lifestyle. That’s how we will win them over. We get to that point by taking spiritual supplements.