“At-least I’m holier than him”
“At-least God knows me”
“Thank God I’m going to heaven, too bad for him/ her”
These were statements I mentioned far too often in the early stages of my faith.
I was never thinking about others, but always about myself and how much more I thought I knew about God in comparison to my peers.
One of the many “silent” killers of Christianity, especially when it comes to fellowshipping with other believers.
Once I was saved, I found it much easier to freely and publicly love God as an individual due to the working of the Holy Spirit.
But I always forgot one thing.
The fullness of the greatest commandment:
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself
I was so captivated by verses 37& 38, that I almost ignored verse 39, which clearly emphasizes on the need for us to love one another.
I made the same mistake when I read the book of 1 John:
10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother
1 John 3:10
Again, I was so focused on the “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” part, that I completely belittled the second aspect of this verse
Loving each other.
Many of us understand that we are called to love God through our wholehearted obedience onto Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.
But loving others is equally as important. As a matter of fact, we would be contradicting ourselves if we proclaimed to wholeheartedly pursue God’s righteousness without the intent of loving others.
So what does this look like?
Loving the Believer
If we have a desire to show the world that we are disciples of Christ, we should begin by desiring to love one another (John 13:34-35)
No one forces siblings to love each other, they just do.
Likewise through Christ, we have all been adopted as God’s children, making us brothers and sisters by faith. Therefore humanly speaking, loving our brothers and sisters in the faith should be really simple
….but we all know it’s never that simple.
Consider the points below
1. Do not Become a Stumbling Block
One of the worst things a Christian can do is to become a stumbling block for other believers in the faith.
What do I mean by that? Let’s use an example:
*I’ll write a blog on this^^ soon*
Now let’s say my friend and I are going out to eat (assume that we are both Christians for sake of example).
My friend has recently overcome an alcohol addiction, finding peace and victory over the sin of drunkenness. On the other hand, I have never been intoxicated in my life and have always controllably consumed alcoholic beverages without getting drunk.
Despite the level of control I may have, it would be senseless of me to boastfully drink in the midst of my friend, knowing very well that he/she has very recently been delivered from an alcohol addiction.
The point is this.
We should never have the attitude to boast in our “self-control” and “holy ways”, especially at the expense of weakening the faith of another believer. I would be sinning against my friend and God if my action (to controllably drink) weakened his/her’s faith (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
We must be selfless in thought and action, to rather increase the faith of our brothers and sisters instead of weakening it.
If going out to eat with your brother may cause him to stumble in the faith…………
Go watch a movie! Shoot some hoops, Play some NBA 2K17 (unless he using Golden State Warriors…)
By disregarding the level of faith of our brothers and sisters, we are not walking in love:
For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
Romans 14:15 ESV
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions
2. Showing Grace When Christians Sin
Similarly when our brothers/ sisters fall into sin we must be careful on how to approach it.
Of course, the last thing we want to do is dismiss their sins and make them feel that it’s “okay” to continue especially when we are aware of their faith. However, there is a right and wrong way of doing this.
Jesus gracefully instructed the woman caught in adultery to sin no more in the midst of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3-11).
As Christians, we often behave as the Pharisees and scribes, gossiping about others in the faith who are struggling in sin. If we are to genuinely love and be gracious to those practicing sin consider this:
- Confess your sins to one other and pray so that you may be healed (James 5:16)
- Examine yourself before pointing out the sins of others – don’t be a hypocrite (Matthew 7:3-5)
- Do not become a stumbling block towards each other (see points above)
And if they sin specifically against you
- Show Mercy (Luke 6:36; Matthew 18:21-35)
- Speak to him/her alone before getting others involved (Matthew 18:15-17)
Humanly speaking, Jesus Christ had EVERY right to boast of his holiness, and bash other believers concerning their imperfections…………For real though he legit never sinned.
If CHRIST was gracious in dealing with us, we have no reason why we shouldn’t be gracious and loving towards each other (1 John 4:19-21)
Loving the Unbeliever
Some believe that Christians are to make enemies with unbelievers and simply be joyous with the Christian environment we are surrounded with.
Whiles it is important for us to remain rooted in our faith and not be persuaded by the ways of the world, the notion that we are to make enemies of unbelievers is simply not biblical.
For starters, we should have a genuine heart and desire for all people, that God will reveal himself onto them through Jesus Christ.
Apostle Paul had such a heart to save the people of Israel, that he was willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of their salvation (Romans 9:1-3).
……Think about that.
When engaging with unbelievers, the Christian’s mentality should never be prideful, but rather flowing with genuine love and compassion for every one of them.
If you are blessed with the chance to speak about your faith, be patient, gracious and internally grateful for the opportunity
“Conduct yourself with wisdom in your interactions with outsiders (non-believers), make the most of each opportunity [treating it as something precious]. Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you]” – Amplified Version
Even if people are to make enemies of us, it is no reason for us to stop loving. As a matter of fact, it should urge us to deepen our love towards them.
Out of all people, Christians should never have an excuse to stop loving (Luke 6:27-36)
A lot has been said, but the bottom line is this.
We are not living for ourselves, but living for the glory of God.
And He is glorified when we demonstrate our love onto others. There are many things to pay attention to in regards to the Christian faith.
But for starters – in the words of Andy Mineo:
And thoroughly hate Sin”
Soli Deo Gloria