14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3
I’m guessing that even astronomical gas prices won’t stop many parents from packing up the car and taking the kids on a road trip for vacation this summer. And if the trip is more than 50 miles, you can already imagine the scene in the backseat: “Mom, he’s on my side!” or “Dad, tell her to stop doing that!” When the kids don’t get along, it drives their parents nuts and takes the joy out of the journey.
I often wonder: Does God feel that way about His kids? He has asked us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), and yet differences in gender, color, gifts, temperaments, roles, perspectives, preferences, and denominations threaten to wreck the unity that He intends for us to enjoy on the road to paradise. The psalmist had it right when he declared, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
A close look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1-26 sheds some light on how to grow up and get along. Just before His ultimate demonstration of love on the cross, Jesus prayed that His followers would be unified (John 17:11) and that they would be set apart by the truth of God’s Word (John 17:16-17). He continued, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one” (John 17: 20-21).
We can’t miss the connection between truth and unity. In fact, truth is the key ingredient of biblical unity. Truth is what unites us as believers: Truth about His deity. Truth about the message of salvation that comes by grace through faith in Christ alone. Truth that the Scriptures are the sole authority for faith and practice, and that they are without error and completely trustworthy.
Jesus goes on to indicate that unity is also built around righteousness. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17: 15-16). As His followers, unity comes when together we cling to the distinction between good and evil and seek to reflect the goodness of God in all that is pure and right.
What we know to be true about God’s Word and what we know to be true about how to live gives us a lot in common! And since Jesus is at the center of it all, He becomes the glue that makes us one. I might not be particularly drawn to you—your culture and background may be different than mine—but when I find out that you too are a follower of Jesus, His Word, and His Way, I find myself saying, “You too? Hey, let’s walk together!”
Being one in Jesus gives us the joy of bearing one another’s burdens, praying for one another, overlooking class distinctions, and casting the log out of our own eyes rather than focusing on the weaknesses of others. When we let the grand things we have in common override our petty differences, the backseat will be a happier place, and we can all enjoy the journey in peace!
Prepare the Child
From: Our Daily Bread
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
A phrase on many parenting websites says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.” Instead of trying to remove all obstacles and pave the way for the children in our life, we should instead equip them to deal with the difficulties they encounter on the road ahead.
The psalmist wrote, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes . . . , which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children” (Ps. 78:4–6). The goal is that “they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (v. 7).
Think of the powerful spiritual impact others had on us through what they said and how they lived. Their conversation and demonstration captured our attention and kindled a fire in us to follow Jesus just as they did.
It’s a wonderful privilege and responsibility to share God’s Word and His plan for our lives with the next generation and the generations to come. No matter what lies ahead on their road through life, we want them to be prepared and equipped to face it in the strength of the Lord.
Father in heaven, we seek Your wisdom and guidance to prepare the children we know and love to walk with You in faith.
Through conversation and demonstration, help prepare children to follow the Lord on the road ahead.
From: Our Daily Journey
One morning, I was surprised to see my mail carrier lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.
In Deuteronomy 5, God mandated that Israel observe the Sabbath with its rest requirements. Not just the men and women of Israel were to rest on Saturday—but their children, their servants, and even their work animals (Deuteronomy 5:14). In Exodus 23:10-11, we see that the land itself was also supposed to enjoy a Sabbath rest every seven years.
There’s a very good reason for the all-encompassing nature of this command: If the people of Israel didn’t observe the Sabbath, then neither could their servants, the most vulnerable and likely overworked group. The foreigners of Israel, being of a lower social standing and with fewer resources, would also not be able to afford to stop working. That’s why God “commanded” all people to rest (Deuteronomy 5:15)—not to be domineering, but because each person’s Sabbath was interconnected with the wellbeing of others.
I often fail to recognize the interconnected nature of our lives, how my personal lack of rest can rob other people of their rest in turn. But as 1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us, believers in Jesus are one body, and what affects one part of the body affects the others. A manager might make a personal choice to never take a break at work, but the truth is that everyone around her is affected by that choice as well.
Regardless of the day, may we choose to regularly rest to honor God and bless those around us! (Deuteronomy 5:14).