Our biannual Cru US Staff Conference—Cru17—begins in a few days. Our theme is WITH. God calls us to be “with” in many ways. I would like to look at two ways we are exhorted and encouraged to be “with”: With Others and With the Lord.
I will look at walking with the Lord next week, and this week I will focus on how we live and walk and work with others.
The New Testament is filled with instructions on how we relate to the “one anothers” in our lives. Gratefully, Paul has pulled five of those instructions together in one passage—Romans 12.
Here are five ways we are to treat—or live “with”– the one anothers—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, even enemies—who are part of our daily lives.
Love one another
Romans 12:9,10a: Love must be sincere…. Be devoted to one another in love.
Jesus set the standard–we should love God with our whole beings, and others as ourselves. Then He defined and measured that love by His love—willing to lay down His life for us because of His great desire to be with us. Love = life sacrifice.
Paul says our love must be sincere—genuine, without hypocrisy, the real thing. Recognizable as love. Real love is unconditional: You can’t earn it, you can’t lose it, you can’t stop it and you don’t have to return it.
Of course, when it’s real love, you want to receive it and return it.
Prefer one another
Romans 12:10b,16: Honor one another above yourselves…. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Most of us prefer ourselves. We look out for, take care of, give preference to our needs and desires. We may honor others, but we tend to prefer ourselves.
Paul tells us that we are not just to “honor one another” but “above yourselves.” How much we are willing to put the interests or recognition of others above our own speaks loudly about our pride or humility. Do we care who gets the credit? Is the most popular? Are we happy when others do well? Just as happy as when we do well?
Serve one another
Romans 12:11-13: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Jesus reminded us on the night before he died for us that He was our Lord and our Teacher, but also that He was a servant. He admonished us to follow His example and serve others—and that we would be blessed if we do.
What does serving look like? Washing feet? Perhaps, but there is so much more: being available, taking the initiative to meet a need, listening, being present and attentive, using your time, money, gifts to provide for someone. Invite someone to your home—for coffee or a meal or a stay.
I am so grateful for—and a little envious of—those with serving gifts. I am truly blessed by their service, but I wish it came so easily for me to serve.
My experience is that God will give us plenty of opportunities to practice and grow.
Bless one another
Romans 12:14,15,17: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
I used to think “blessing” was kind of old fashioned, for little old ladies. Notwithstanding my age, I now think it is one of the most important things I do.
To bless someone is to speak good into their lives—especially to ask God to do good to them. It’s great to “be a blessing to someone,” but even better to be intentional about blessing others—with affirmations, kind words, specific prayers, gifts, encouragement.
The hardest and best is to bless your enemies—those who hate, or mistreat, or hurt or even just irritate you. Bless them. It can bring surprising results for you and for them.
Be at peace with one another
Romans 12:16,18: Live in harmony with one another…. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Watching children helps us to see how easy it is to be at odds with someone else. The slightest little thing can lead to anger or tears. Unfortunately, we are often not very different from children.
So many times I have said to my children—and to myself: You can’t control what others do or say. You can only control yourself.
And in that choice, we can make the difference between war and peace.
Jesus sums up how we should treat the “one anothers” in our lives two other ways:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Treat others the way I did—laying down my life for them.
I am so grateful He sent His Spirit to live in me and enable me to keep growing in consistency of living in this challenging, selfless way with the people of my life.
What about you? Which of these “one another” instructions is the most challenging for you?
C2017 Judy Douglass
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Loving a Prodigal: War and Peace