Jesus said which one of the following statements?
A) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you are sensitive to those seeking Me." B) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if your preaching and worship singing get many hits on YouTube and Spotify." C) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have excellency in your performances, programs, buildings, and clothing." D) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (For help, see John 13:35)
Most of us are quite aware that Jesus said we are to be known by our love for one another. But how much time do we give to loving people? How often do we go the extra mile or give the extra time to comfort someone or encourage the downcast soul? How many hours a week do we give to loving people? And how does that compare to the amount of hours we give to preparing for our Sunday morning performance? How does it compare to the number of hours we give to planning programs, meetings, and activities?
If we are really going to be known by our love for one another, we had better spend more time doing the “one-anothers” of the New Testament: loving one another, caring for one another, carrying one another's burdens, praying for one another, encouraging one another, exhorting one another, teaching one another. On a typical Sunday morning in many churches the only one-another that gets done is the teaching one another, although that is usually always the same person teaching everyone else. There isn't a whole lot of one-another to it. The same could be said of prayer – prayer happens but it is often the same leader praying for everyone else rather than people actually praying for one another.
"Whatever gifts and talents God has given you and me, let's be careful to love one another first and foremost."
Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
If Paul were writing today, perhaps it would have went like this:
“If I speak to stadiums filled with people, but have not love, I am nothing, I am only a noisy alarm annoying everyone around. If I have all wisdom and am listened to by millions on podcasts and videos all around the world but have not love, I am nothing. If I work harder than you all and publish more books and build larger buildings and have more name recognition but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Whatever gifts and talents God has given you and me, let's be careful to love one another first and foremost. Let’s love unconditionally, just as God loves us. Let’s make love an action word by laying down our lives for others. For if we get caught up in the pursuit of worldly success and fail to love, we gain nothing. We might be on TV or have a large following on Twitter, but real power will come from loving our neighbors and co-workers, and being a loving husband or wife or parent or whatever we are to those around us. Real success is found in loving people and loving God rather than building a ministry or a church.
Let's Pray Together:Father, help me to love those around me, even when it is time-consuming or inconvenient. Let my love be like Yours – backed up by action and not just an emotion. Help me to set an example to others by loving even those who are difficult to love. May it be true of me and my church that we are known for our love for one another. Help me and my church leaders to understand that loving people is foremost and all the programs and performances should take a backseat to loving people and doing the one-anothers. I pray for these church leaders that I bring before You now... (continue praying as you feel led)
What Others Are Saying: “Every day I put love on the line. There is nothing I am less good at than love. I am far better in competition than in love. I am far better at responding to my instincts and ambitions to get ahead and make my mark than I am at figuring out how to love another. I am schooled and trained in acquisitive skills, in getting my own way. And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride. That last line wrecks me – daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” (Eugene Peterson in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction)
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