Jesus said that the way for the world to know that we are followers of Him is to love one another (Jn. 13:34-35).
A dominant theme of the “one anothers” in the New Testament was that the individual believers have a mutual love and care for one another (Rom. 12:10; 13:8; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2; 1 Th. 3:12; 2 Th. 1:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 1:22; 4:8; 5:14; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11–12; 2 John 1:5).
Paul said that the testimony of the persecuted church in Thessalonica was that they loved each other well — and that love extended beyond the walls of their own church to other churches in other cities (1 Thess. 4:1, 9-10).
And this command to love was not just a New Testament admonition; it was (and is) a biblical (both Testaments) concern. Consider Leviticus 19:18 (which Jesus quoted in Mk. 12:31).
So as a follower of God and Christ, loving others is not optional. It’s necessary. (And it’s a joyful obligation as well). We cannot escape the duty of caring well for others, meeting their material needs, and befriending and building them up spiritually. Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 4 also means that we must not only persist in caring for each other, but that we should grow and mature in our loving care — getting better and better in how we love.
That’s our goal for Grace Bible Church in 2022. By God’s grace, our reputation is that we love well — but as ministry expands, our goal is to be particularly attentive to making sure we don’t just maintain godly love for each other, but that we grow more effective in loving each other. We don’t want to “accidentally” love each other; we are committed to intentionally pursuing love for one another — to excel still more in our loving care of each other.
How will we do that? As mentioned on Sunday morning, we want to pursue loving each other in three primary spheres.
Be intentional in involving yourselves spiritually in the lives of others. For instance:
- Connect to a home group (approximately 70% of you are connected!) — all of us need relationships where we can give and receive expressions of loving care.
- When in gatherings, look for the lonely and isolated; you will find other times to talk to your friends — look for those who are not yet your friends first, and engage with them.
- Speak words of encouragement and exhortation as often as you can — we have been given the ability to disciple and help others (Rom. 15:14). Write a note, make a call, send a text — find a way to speak purposeful words into the lives of others that will help them walk with Christ.
- Find someone to disciple (or be discipled and then find someone to disciple).
- Pray for individuals and their needs — and when someone expresses a need, pray immediately with him and for him.
- Pray for ministries and the participants and leaders (missionaries, counselors, deacons, SS and AWANA teachers, secretaries, musicians, elders, safety team, hospitality team, etc.). We are all dependent on the grace of God to do what God has called us to do; let’s pray as if we really are dependent on Him.
- Pray for the progress of the gospel — pray for your own gospel opportunities and for the opportunities of others.
- When you sin against others (and you will), confess quickly and fully.
- When you are sinned against by others (and you will be), be ready to forgive quickly and fully.
Be intentional in involving yourselves physically in the lives of others. For instance:
- Who is ill and needs a meal or an errand or a task that is beyond their ability in the moment? Do they need help getting to a doctor?
- Does someone need a job? Can you hire someone? Or provide a job lead or a reference?
- Does someone need a bill paid?
- Does someone need a ride somewhere?
- Does someone need a babysitter to run errands or have a date with the mate?
- Can you help with physical building needs of an individual or at church (repairs, maintenance, etc.)?
- Instead of saying, “let me know if there is anything I can do,” ask if you can do particular things — “can I bring a container of soup? Pick up a prescription? clean your house? mow your yard?…” Let them know you are thinking about their circumstance and their unique needs.
Be generous and involved in meeting ministry needs; we currently need things like:
- Home group hosts and leaders
- Door greeters and safety members
- Welcome center greeters
- Hospitality helpers (set up, hosting, and clean up)
- Audio and video tech support
- Weekly tear down and set up for Sunday worship
- Wednesday meal serving and clean up
- AWANA, SS, and Children’s Church teachers or support (and listeners)
- Nursery workers
- Counselors — be trained to counsel (you are at one of the best churches in the country for that training)
- Discipling — be trained to disciple new believers (and old believers) who need training in how to grow with Christ
Opportunities for caring well for others in our church body abound.
We have been doing well in caring for and loving each other for more than 40 years.
In 2022, let’s excel still more.