With the invention of social media, various networks create the opportunity for people to connect in all sorts of amazing ways. Friends, family and acquaintances are able to interact in ways that may not be possible due to distance or other restrictions. With many positives, one dangerous thing about this is the way the word “friend” has become cheapened in this process. In a single click somebody you don’t know or barely know becomes your “friend”. This list of “friends” can become huge before you know it. I understand the value and benefits of social networks, but we need to make sure that as Christians we don’t allow important things like friendship to be cheapened, redefined or even hijacked. Continue reading How to Identify True Friends
The apostle John said, “Beloved, let us love one another” (a). How are you doing with that? Do you have a great love for other believers? According to this verse, it is God’s will that you love one another. In other words, if you are not committed to and caring for one another, the reality is you are going against the will of God. Have a look again at this verse, “Beloved, let us love one another“. How straightforward, the command is that you love. This is the exact same love God granted to His people. Have a look at , “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him“. John is saying that God showed this love toward us when He sent His Son into the world. How was it shown? The One true and eternal God, who consists of three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is perfectly sufficient in Himself. He had chosen to create this world, and the people He created rebelled against Him by sinning. Before the foundation of the world, God had chosen some to be saved (). But the only way in which those individuals could be saved was if the Lord Jesus Christ would come into this world and die in their place as a sacrifice for sin. This is exactly what happened. God the Father sent His only begotten Son into this world. He came into the world taking upon Himself a human nature. He was born, grew up, lived a perfect life, and was ridiculed by many. But at the end of His ministry, He was condemned to the cross. At the cross He died a death for all who would ever believe in Him. It was a horrible death. Physically, He was abused, persecuted, ridiculed. It was a humiliating experience. Worse than the physical horror, God the Father poured out His wrath toward every sin that was laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ – though He never sinned. The question is, why did the Lord Jesus Christ go through all that? Because God loves His people, He “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (). God proved His love by sending His Son Jesus Christ into this world.
So when John says, “Beloved, let us love one another“, we are to do this with the same love God showed us. Clearly, this is talking about a huge kind of commitment to each other. This is not suggesting that you go and pat someone on the back and say, “Hey! I love ya” and then you walk off and never talk to them again. It is not enough to shake someone’s hand once a week and limit that isolated act to showing love. These things are not wrong, but if you limit your acts of love to those things, that is not going to cut it. God did not save us by patting us on the back or by shaking our hands or becoming a friend on facebook. He provided a sacrifice for us in His Son.
We could never truly love to the same level as God does. But we can draw an important principle: We can show love by sacrificing for others. This means, in relationships sacrifice some of your own preferences. You may be in a conversation with someone and you both have different opinions. Do you always have to share your opinion? That is a very small sacrifice to make when compared to what God has done for us. That is only one example. I am sure you could list a lot of things that we could sacrifice in our lives because we love them. Is it time you need to sacrifice? Money? Or even sacrificing opportunities in which you speak with someone you get along with so as to speak to someone you wouldn’t normally talk too.
There are lots of ways that we can show sacrifice. Don’t lose sight of the simple command to “love one another“. This is simple yet it is hard because it demands commitment. In fact, it involves a level of commitment that shows more loyalty to those who are Christians. That doesn’t mean we are to hate or dislike unbelievers, but what it means is that you will show a particular kind of love to those who are of the household of faith. This kind of loyalty sends out a message to those who aren’t saved. Jesus said,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” ().
That is how people will know you are the people of God.
How do you look out for other believers? Are you committed to each other? Do you make sacrifices for one another? I am encouraged when I see other believers show this kind of love. When a visitor arrives for the first time at church, what a joy to see individuals make an effort to talk to them and get to know them. That is not an easy thing to do and I thank the Lord that many are showing an interest and a love for other believers. I also appreciate the way I see examples of believers showing love to each other. They support and stick up for each other. Some sacrifice many of their plans because they desire to help others out. Let us never become settled in thinking that we are OK or have arrived. Let us strive to go further and further in our love to one another.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“.
The ultimate goal of his ministry is to, “present everyone mature in Christ“. The means in which he would accomplish this purpose was to proclaim Christ (cf. ). This indicates the central theme of what he preached. He was not interested in promoting himself, or in announcing some new system of thought. Paul’s chief concern was to publicly “proclaim” the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul carried out this proclamation of Christ in two ways, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom“. Warning and teaching need to go hand in hand. One without the other is not useful and can lead to error in the Christian life. Warning without teaching can lead to a form of legalism, whereas teaching without warning can lead to fruitless Christianity.
If the gospel minister is going to fulfill all found in , he is going to need power. In Paul reveals the power for ministry from both the human and the Divine side. The word “toil” means “to work to the point of weariness”. Many people are attracted to the ministry because they think that it is going to be easy. You can start whenever you want and the hours are great. Such a view of the ministry was foreign to Paul. Unlike many lazy pastors, he laboured in his serving. Paul not only worked to the point of weariness, he also struggled. This is an athletic term (the word “agonize” is derived from it). Ministry for Paul was hard work. He devoted himself to it with great seriousness and faithfulness.
Even though Paul put his all into the ministry, if that was the only enabling factor his ministry would be a waste of time. The ultimate enabling power for the minister is the Lord. Paul says that he laboured and strived, “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“. Paul’s philosophy of ministry ought to be the same for all pastors. By God’s help, it ought to be their goal to labour in the gospel in proclaiming Christ with the view of seeing His people become mature in Christ. Determined in duty and dependant on God for help.
28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.