"Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other."
What kind of sister are you to your fellow believers? Our love for God can be determined by how much we love other people. We are to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul and many claim to do so but actions and words do not always reflect this in our relationships with others. Do we really love as we say we do?
I believe that our relationship with God is truly reflected by the relationships we have with others. Scripture says,
"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." 1 John 4:20-21 We must take the time to search our hearts and evaluate where we are as individuals, where we are with God and with one another.
There are times when we get upset with someone, someone offends or hurts us or we become disconnected from others and these situations become a reflection of what our relationship with God looks like and how we are presenting Him to the world. Our lives are to reflect the Glory of God and so all that we do should be reflecting who He is within us. Do we truly love God when we have unloving feelings for our sister? Scripture says "NO". We cannot justify our feelings by saying things like "they don't like me", "they hurt me", or "they don't care about me and my life anyway" because when we love God and we choose to be obedient to Him we must live like Him and love others unconditionally.
Jesus says, "You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48
We need to be more like God and His perfection and less of how this world has taught us to be; self-centered. We must stop reacting as the world teaches us to react to the stress and hardships of our everyday living. We have to remember that our positions, our callings, our representation is to be that of a reflection of Jesus. There can be nothing less!!
There are things in our lives that clearly impede us from loving one another as we are called to love.
1. We should not judge one another. We all are guilty of this sin and it is one of the biggest hindrances in our love for others. All other obstacles trickle down from our judging what others have and what they do.
"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother's way."
2. We should not pursue lawsuits against one another. How can we really love someone if we are suing someone over trivial issues?
"The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?"
3. We should not devour each other with our words.-The more we pick out one another's flaws and focus on the things of others, the more it will consume us and make us bitter and unhappy.
"If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
4. We should not be jealous of one another-We cannot want the things that others have. God made each of us unique and gave us each our own gifts and in that, we must find contentment.
"Let us not become conceited, irritate one another, or be jealous of one another."
5. We should not speak evil or complain against one another.-Gossip is the killer amongst relationships. As Christians we are supposed to be representing Christ and so when we are out and "speaking evil" of our sisters, what kind of example are we setting and what are we saying about the God that we claim to love.
" Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it."
"Do not grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!"
6. We should not seek glory from one another.
"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?"
John 5:44 points out the heart of this problem. When we do not recognize our sinfulness and need, without faith in Jesus and the cross, without truly finding rest in who we are in Christ and His acknowledgement of us, we look towards others for justification and our sense of refuge and worth. When we seek glory from one another, it makes us unable to love one another in the biblical sense according to the Word. We find ourselves becoming obsessed with things such as:
How well do I do things?
How do I look?
How important am I?
When we are seeking glory from one another, we impede our ability to trust in God's approval and His evaluation of our lives. This kind of trust causes us to seek from others only that which God can give us. Seeking glory means, we are seeking our self-assurance and sense of worth from the praise, applause, and approval of others rather than resting by faith in God's promises of His Truth. Ultimately, the glory that comes from God is found only in Jesus Christ, and it is through Christ we find our confidence and purpose. Not only must we come to Christ to be righteous, but also we must learn to rest in God's opinion of who we are in His Beloved, the Lord Jesus.
Loving one another can be such a difficult thing when we each are so different but because we have a commitment to Christ, this makes us each a sister in Christ. When we fail to love one another as God has called us to love, we hinder the relationships that God has given us and things around us become damaged, including the image of God. We are to take the command given to us by Christ to love one another seriously because it is a powerful force for a watching world to see.
There are things we can do in order to love as God has commanded us to love.
We must remember that we each are a child of God. No matter how annoying people can be or how much you disagree with what they do, God loves them just as He loves us and they are just as precious to Him as we are. These people are the true test of our willingness to love as He has commanded. We must also always be willing to except others as they are and not play favorites. We love because we are commanded to love and not because we are looking for something in return. We must stop asking God to change everyone else and instead ask Him to change our own hearts and attitudes. We must learn to love people as they are and not just tolerate the things in them we do not like. It gives us the opportunity to practice patience, humility and grace.
We must forgive those who have wronged us and move on. We all are a work in progress and will fail repeatedly and Jesus told us that we are to always forgive those who have offended us and in fact we are to love them even more and move forward.
We must not be afraid to go to one another and confess the sin in our life. We should be able to pray and encourage one another. We should be able to come to each other and share our lives, which allow us to draw closer and have relationships that are more intimate in the Lord. We can help to carry one anothers burdens and help one another to find healing. When we live with integrity, we are able to encourage others and be an example of what faith looks like to the world watching.
We must serve one another. This means our time, our money and our lives.
We must be there to comfort one another in times of loss, pain and loneliness. We must be willing to share the hope of Jesus with those hurting so that together we may draw closer to God and one another.
We need to challenge one another. We have to learn humility and be able to accept that we do not know it all. There will always be someone else out there who knows more than we do or that can do something better and so we must learn to be humble, stretch ourselves, learn new things and hear what others are saying.
We must be willing to confront or correct one another when we are being disobedient to the authority of God. It can never be done out of spite but because we love one another and want to restore intimacy within our relationships with the Lord.
Loving as God commanded is not always easy but when our eyes are focused on Him and we are His disciple and He is living through us then our desire becomes to reflect Him and bring Him glory. When we finally give Him our lives and allow Him the control then we are able to love, minister, forgive, and so forth as He has called us because we are living through His strength and not our own.
Spend time with Him allowing Him the access to your heart. Allow Him to show you the areas that you cling too tightly too that keep Him from having full control of your life. When you finally let go and allow Him to do the work, it makes being His follower, His disciple a little bit easier and loving your sister a lot less complicated.
"Father, search my heart and show me the dark places that I try to hide from You. You see and know all things and so convict me of the areas that keep me from loving my sister as you have called me to love. Give me eyes to see my sister the way that You see her; Your beautiful and unique creation that loves You like I do."