Author Archives: Gary E. Davenport

About Gary E. Davenport

Christian man, husband, father, father-in-law, and granddaddy

‘One Another’ Commands of Scripture: Foundations and Motivations

Repeatedly the New Testament exhorts us to care for one another as fellow members of the body of Christ. In fact, the Lord Jesus desires all believers to be functioning effectively as a partner/members of His body, the church.

Paul has an important word for us on this very important matter in Ephesians 4:15-16: But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

This One Another care is to be an outworking of our fellowship with other believers, but we seem to have lost sight of what the Bible means when it speaks of fellowship. Too often when Christians think of fellowship they think in terms of what goes on in that room in the church called “fellowship hall.” Since fellowship is a very important part of caring for one another this study will begin by answering the question—what is meant by fellowship in the New Testament?

And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42, emphasis mine).

A study of two word groups used for fellowship in the Greek New Testament, koinos (koinov), koinonia (koinwnia), koinonos (koinwov), etc., and metochos (metocov), metoche (metoch), express four related and essential elements that describe what fellowship involves: relationship, partnership, companionship, and stewardship.[1] The meaning of these two word groups can be boiled down to two main ideas:

(1) “To share together, take part together” in the sense of participation and partnership, and

(2) “To share with” in the sense of giving to or receiving from others, sharing what we have with one another.

Since fellowship is so important and forms an essential foundation for understanding the ministry we are to have with one another, let’s look at these four main concepts of New Testament fellowship.

Fellowship Means Relationship

In the New Testament what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that all Christians share together in Christ. Koinonia (koinwnia) was an impor­tant word to both John and Paul, but it was never used in merely a secular sense. It always had a spiritual orientation, a spiritual base, and a spiritual purpose.

The idea of an earthly fellowship founded upon just common interests, or human nature, or physical ties like in a family, or purely physical church affiliation, or merely self-centered interests that sport enthusiasts might share together was completely foreign to the Apostles.

In the New Testament, believers can have fellowship on a horizon­tal plane and share together because they first of all have a vertical relationship with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus, and because they can share together in Christ’s life and hold His purposes in common (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9 with vs. 10f, then see 1 John 1:3). Interestingly, the NEB translates 1 John 1:3 as, “what we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you and we together may share in a common life, that life which we share with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”


(1) New Testament fellowship is first a sharing together in a common life, the life of the Savior, with other believers through relationship with God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2) Fellowship is, therefore, first and foremost a relationship, rather than an activity. Any activity that follows is to flow out of this relationship. Here is the common ground, the core and the heart beat of all Christian fellowship that is truly biblical.

(3) This means that fellowship occurs in two spheres or levels—the vertical and the horizontal—and each supports and promotes the other.

Fellowship Means Partnership

Both word groups could also mean to share together in the sense of a partnership. As sharers together of the person and life of Jesus Christ, we are automatically copartners in His enterprise here on earth. If we are truly sharing in His life through the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we will also share in His concerns, goals, priorities, and leadership.

The idea of partnership is easily illustrated in the use of both of these word groups, koinonos and metachos in Luke 5:7, 10.

Luke 5:7 and they signaled to their partners (metchos, mevtoco”) in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.

Luke 5:10 and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners (koinos, koinwnov”) with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”


(1) The word “relationship” describes what we are: A community of people bound together by our common life and blessings that we share together through our relationship with Christ.

(2) The word “partnership” describes how we are related to each other in that relationship: We are partners in an enterprise and calling in which we are to work together in a common purpose to obtain common objectives for the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil 1:27).

Fellowship Means Companionship, Communion

Definition of Companionship:

Companionship is the interchange or the communication (communion) that exists among companions, those associated together through a relationship they hold in common. So, what’s the key ingredient to companionship? Communication. Key words would include ideas like interchange, communion, sharing.

Definition of Communication:

Communication is the interchange or the sharing of concepts, feelings, ideas, information, needs, burdens, etc., through words or other symbols like body language and actions so that all members of the relationship can share and thus minister to each other as they have opportunity and are sensitive to the needs of one another.

In the Christian community, fellowship means learning to communicate on a spiritual level through a mutual sharing of the things of Christ by means of the Word, the Spirit-controlled life, and the ministries and gifts of the various members of the body of Christ.

But what’s the purpose of this? To promote a fuller appreciation of Christ and His sufficiency for our lives, whatever life brings, through mirroring and ministering Him to one another.

What does companionship through communication include? Well, remember, there are two spheres of planes of fellowship. So it would include:

  • The Vertical—our communion and fellowship with the Lord through the Word, prayer, and the filling of the Holy Spirit, the abiding life.
  • The Horizontal—our communion and fellowship with the body of Christ, with other believers.

Our horizontal fellowship includes at least three things:

(1) Obviously, it must first include assembling ourselves together: (a) Assembly of the whole body (Acts. 2:42; Heb. 10:25). (b) Assembling in smaller groups (2 Tim. 2:2). (c) Meeting together one on one (1 Thess. 5:11).

(2) Sharing and communicating together. But what are some of the ways we can do this?

(a) Sharing truth with one another, sharing with others what God has taught us with a view to building others up (Rom. 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Thess 5:11; Philemon 6).

(b) Sharing together in the company of others the various aspects of worship as (1) the Lord’s supper (communion) (1 Cor. 10:16); (2) the singing of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16); (3) prayer (1 Cor. 14:16-17); (4) the ministry of the Word (Acts 20:20; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

(c) Sharing together as partners in the needs, burdens, concerns, joys, and blessings for the purpose of encouragement, comfort, challenge or exhortation, praise, prayer, and physical help according to needs and ability (cf. Phil. 1:5 with 1:15; cf. also Phil. 1:27 with 2:4; 4:3; finally note Rom. 12:15; and 1 Thess. 5:11, 14, 15; Heb. 10:33).

This means we must develop the loving art of communication for the purpose of ministry, encouragement, and edification. It means: (a) The willingness to share our own hurts, burdens, and aspirations. (b) The willingness to really hear what others are saying so we may minister to needs according to the directives of the Word. (c) Above all, it means developing a very definite motivation, the motivation of words that are acceptable in God’s sight and that edify others (Ps. 19:14 and Eph. 4:29). Every motivation of our hearts and every word out of our mouths must be consistent with the purpose of building others up. Paul is telling us that we should utter nothing that compromises or interferes with this objective.

Interestingly, Scripture does not tell us what words to say; rather, it tells us what our motivation should be. It is this motivation which, if right, will control our thoughts and then our words.

The ultimate goal here is to build up and enrich others in the things of Christ so they may experience the sufficiency of His life. As the early church was first devoted to the apostles teaching, they were also devoted to sharing with one another of the all-encompassing sufficiency of the Savior and what Christ was meaning to them (Acts. 2:42; Heb. 3:12-14).

Fellowship Means Stewardship

A steward is one who manages the property of another. He is not an owner, he is only a manager. All that we have in reality belongs to God (Ps. 50:10-11; 104:24-25; Dan. 2:38), and it is required of stewards that they be found faithful to the stewardship entrusted to them (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

This stewardship includes five general areas: time, talents (spiritual gifts), temple (our bodies as the very dwelling place of the Spirit [1 Cor. 6:19]), God’s truth, and our treasures (our earthly goods).

As stewards we must recognize that all we have belongs to the Lord and has been given to us as trusts from God to invest for His purposes. We have the privilege and responsibility to invest every aspect of our lives, including of course our material possessions for the work of promoting the gospel and helping others in need. But good stewardship stems from recognizing that our relation­ship to Jesus Christ also means our partnership with Christ in His enterprise on earth.

In any good partnership, the partners share equally in all aspects of the partnership:

  1. the privileges and responsibilities,
  2. the assets and liabilities,
  3. the blessings and burdens.

What kind of partnership would it be if one partner took all the income and enjoyed all the privileges of the partnership and the other partner did all the work and paid all the bills? Would you enter a partnership like that? No, probably not! Partners are to share and share alike in all the aspects of their enterprise. A good example is what we see in Luke 5:7-10. The partners may not do the same things. They usually work and share according to their abilities, expertise, and training, but they still share the load.

It is interesting that one of the most prominent uses of the koinonia group of words is its use in connection with sharing material blessings: giving money to meet financial needs. In 36 uses of these word groups, 9 times they are used specifically in connection with giving and in a couple of other passages giving would be included among other aspects of fellowship or working together as partners in the stewardship of all we are (Acts 2:42 and Phil. 1:5; Heb. 10:33).

Some specific passages where giving is in view are:

  1. Koinoneo, koinonew—Rom. 12:13; 15:27; Gal. 6:6; Phil. 4:15
  2. Koinonia, koinwnia—Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13; Heb. 13:16
  3. Koinonikos, koinwniko”—1 Tim. 6:18
  4. Metecho, metevcw—1 Cor. 9:10, note context in vss. 9-14

What does all this mean? It means that as partners in Christ’s enterprise on earth, we each need to share and invest all aspects of our stewardship with others in the realization that we are not owners, only stewards of what God has entrusted (not given, but entrusted) to each of us.

The following verses stress this with all aspects of our stewardship:

  1. Time—Eph. 5:16; Ps. 90:12; 39:4-6
  2. Truth—1 Cor. 4:1; 9:17; 1 Tim. 4:6f; 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14; Rom. 3:2; 1 Thess. 2:4
  3. Talents or Spiritual Gifts—1 Pet. 4:10-11
  4. Treasures—1 Tim. 6:18-19; Matt. 6:19-21; 2 Cor. 8:3-4, 7-8; 9:6-15
  5. Temple—1 Cor. 6:19

Returning to the subject of the One Another injunctions of Scripture, the big question is, “How do we have the kind of fellowship that encourages, edifies, and serves one another?”

To focus our attention to the One Another concept, the Holy Spirit used a special Greek word, a reciprocal pronoun, allelon (allelwn) meaning “one another.” The term “reciprocal” means “mutual, shared, shown or felt alike by both sides; united in feelings, actions, responsibilities, and attitudes.” Reciprocal implies a return in due measure by each side in the matter discussed. This reciprocal pronoun is frequently used in statements and injunctions to Christians regarding the responsibilities that believers are to engage in for the mutual help and blessing of one another. The frequency of these injunctions point up the importance of this truth to the growth, health, and ministry of the body of Christ.

All together these One Another passages may be grouped together into 18 or more specific categories of responsibility where Christians are to be ministering in the lives of fellow members of the body of Christ. Just a brief look at these passages will quickly reveal two things: (a) the need we each have of the ministry and aid of others, and (b) our responsibility to minister to others.

As members of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we are also members of one another. Just as all the members of our bodies (arms, legs, head, etc.) are diverse and consist of many members, so believers are all part of one body with each one being essential. The One Another passages and injunctions remind us:

(1) That no man is an island—no individual believer can function effectively by himself. We need the help and love of other members of the body. We need encouragement, counsel, prayer, or physical help, depending on our particular needs at any given moment.

(2) That every believer is important and essential to the proper function of the church—the body of Christ. While this will vary in one’s life, still, each believer needs help in some way, but also each has something to contribute to the well being, growth, and ministry of the body of Christ.

Foundations and Motivations for the One Another Commands

A study of these One Another passages yield a number of principles that lay the foundation and set forth the reasons why God has given us these exhortations in the New Testament. The following principles speak strongly against our age of independence, loneliness, and insensitivity to others. The tendency is for people to simply do their own thing and go their own way in their search for happiness regardless of the needs of others or upon whom they may trample in the process. Ironically, when we pursue this path, we are searching for happiness in all the wrong places. Indeed, when we do this we have followed the deceptions of the world and Satan; we have placed our trust in the wrong things, worshipping what we think they can give us, rather than resting in God and His plan for our lives (see Matt. 4:8-11). So what constitutes the foundation and motivational reasons for the One Another injunctions of Scripture?

Because We are God’s Children

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;

As will be demonstrated in the following paragraphs, the One Another passages are a commentary on how to love and care for one another in the body of Christ. In Ephesians 5:1, especially when understood in its context that precedes (note the words “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, …” 4:32), and the context that follows (“walk in love, …” 5:2), the Apostle gives us the greatest of all reasons and the highest standard one can imagine. The “therefore” (oun, oun) introduces the close of the preceding section on Christian behavior, particularly in the realm of that which manifests love for others like forgiveness. There is no gap between 4:32 and 5:1. The “therefore” (oun, oun) may be regarded as synoptic—“in a word.” (NEB)[2]

The Apostle is telling us we are to become in life, in our daily experience, what we are in reality as believers in Christ. We are the children of God through the new birth and as the children of God we are to grow up like our heavenly Father, we are to imitate His character since He is the epitome of love, a love that is kind toward one another, that forgives just as God in Christ has also forgiven us (4:32), and that was demonstrated in the gift of the Lord Jesus, God’s Son who gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (5:2). Anything short of this is inconsistent with who we are in Christ and the miraculous regenerating work of God. To be unloving as God’s children is an absurdity.

Because We are Brethren

Acts 7:26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

The New Testament clearly states that faith in Christ results in spiritual regeneration, the new birth, born again by the Spirit of God into the family of God. We become related to God as His spiritual children and to all other believers in Christ as brethren regardless of gender, race, culture, education, or position in society. We become a part of one huge spiritual family. We share the same spiritual Father, the same spiritual blessings, and as a family we should have a special love for one another. The One Another emphasis of the New Testament is closely tied to the fact of our spiritual relationship as brethren.

Brethren should work together, love, and serve one another. This was the point of Moses as recorded in Acts 7:26. Because we are brethren—family—we have a special relationship and should care for one another.

Because We are Members of One Another

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

The New Testament also teaches that when we put our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit joins us through Spirit baptism into union with Christ and His Spiritual body, the church. To show just how we are related to each other and how we should therefore act toward one another, the New Testament uses the analogy of the human body. The concept of the church as the body of Christ is a recurrent analogy and one rich in meaning.

In the three passages above, this analogy and relationship are used as the basis for various One Another responsibilities. As with the many and varied members of the human body, so we, as believers in Christ, are members of one another and we are to live, think, and act accordingly. We are to act in ways that are consistent with a caring and unified body under one head—Christ. When we think or act otherwise, we both hinder and hurt the proper function of the body. This truth is to be a protection against division.

The One Another actions of the body are the natural and necessary products of being members of one body. These actions promote unity, care of one another, and result in greater effectiveness through diversity and the use of our gifts. The One Another passages of the New Testament are designed to hinder independent individualism, apathy toward other believers, ineffectiveness of the church through idle members, and the spirit of clericalism and “spectatoritis.”

Because We are Taught by God to Love One Another

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

Some instructions for Christians come through their brethren in Christ. But other lessons are taught by God to His children directly, things that almost intuitively seem right for a Christian to do. Loving other Christians is such a lesson. Christians quickly learn that there is a real kinship between believers, and they relate to other Christians in a way they do not relate to those outside God’s family. The Thessalonians had already learned to love each other even though they were new Christians. Paul pointed out that God Himself had taught them this.[3]

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The writer now returned to the subject of love which, like faith in God’s Son (v. 13), is a product of the Spirit. As a confession of the incarnate person of Christ marks one off as being actuated by God (i.e., “from God,” verses 4, 6) so does love, since love comes from God. Hence, one who loves (in the Christian sense of that term) has been born of God (cf. 2:29; 3:9; 5:1, 4, 18) and he knows God. Love stems from a regenerate nature and also from fellowship with God which issues in knowing Him (see 2:3-5). The absence of love is evidence that a person does not know God. Significantly, John did not say such a person is not born of God. In the negative statement only the last part of the positive one (in 4:7) is repeated. Since God is love, intimate acquaintance with Him will produce love. Like light (1:5), love is intrinsic to the character and nature of God, and one who is intimately acquainted with God walks in His light (1:7).[4]

1 John 4:12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Again, the apostle shows that loving one another is a proof of fellowship—the abiding life. In John’s terminology, the words, “God abides in us” refers not to the indwelling presence of God, but to fellowship or the abiding life.

Because God has Loved Us

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Caring for one another is a response to God’s love for us and His purposes through us. Since we have experienced the gift of God’s love and the new life it brings, we ought to love others as the recipients of this new life. Those who have been so touched by God’s grace, ought to love one another as a response of gratitude, but also as a living manifestation of God’s love to others, a visible manifestation of the true but invisible God (cf. 4:12).

Because It’s the Expression and Fulfillment of God’s Word and Will

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Matthew 22:35-40 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus means that no commandment is greater. These two commands stand to the rest of Scripture as source, sum, substance, and goal. This means that the rest of Scripture, like these One Another commands, provide us with a commentary on these two responsibilities setting forth the means, manner, motive, method, and destination of our lives.

Without the reality of these two commands in our lives as both source and course, derivation and destination, obedience to the rest of Scripture will become merely legalistic demands. The legal demands become burdens that we seek to obey to gain points with God and with men, and all our works and ministries naturally become acts of self-love. They are things we do for praise, power, position, or to feel better about ourselves.

Matthew’s account which adds, “on these two commandments depend the whole Law and the prophets” and Paul’s statement, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law,” stress that our ability to enter in and fulfill the rest of Scripture hinges like a door on the reality of these two paramount commands. Without the reality of these two, we will miserably fail to be the people God has called us to be.

(1) The Principle of Source (Internal Controls)

Love for God and our neighbor becomes our source and means of obedience in the other imperatives of Scripture by virtue of internal motives and the inner ability to carry out the commands of God by the power of God’s love operating in us by the ministry of His Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22; 1 Thess. 4:2-9).

(2) The Principle of Supervision (External Controls)

We need the imperatives, principles, promises, and guidelines of Scripture as a whole to guide us in the wise expression of God’s love so that it does not degenerate into mere sentimentality, self-indulgence, or the compromise of righteousness. The rest of Scripture, like a light in the darkness, gives us the revealed will of God in the expression of how to love. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians in Philippians 1:9-10 reminds us not only of the need of more and more love, but love with spiritual and biblical discernment.

(3) The Principle of Substance and Summary (Controls Defined and Directed)

Love for God and one another is the very essence, heart, goal, and substance of the rest of Scripture. These two commands sum up the rest of God’s commands in His Holy Word.

As a kind of summary of Matthew 22:34f; Mark 12:29-31, and Romans 13:8, please note the following:

(1) This means that the rest of Scripture and the One Another injunctions give us God’s commentary on loving God and loving one another. They provide us with the means, manner, motive and method. The other commands like those against murder, stealing, adultery, etc., are never the end or goal in themselves, but find their meaning and purpose in these two things—love for God and love for others who are made in the image of God (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5).

(2) Morality without the knowledge of God and the absolutes of Scripture cannot long exist. Moral living must be founded on the reality of God, man’s love for God, and the absolutes of the Bible. If this is not the foundation, morality will crumble and with it society.

(3) These passages stress the necessity of a heart relationship with God through the Word of God. Love for others can only grow out of the soil of love for God as it is fed and watered by fellowship with God in His Word. Without this, you and I will end up with a life that is pharisaic (i.e., external, sterile, artificial, petty, critical, selfish, and lifeless). Our actions of love, if we have any, will be full of hypocrisy. Compare Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy.”

(4) In these passages we also find the concept of vision. Vision means having God’s Word, and from the insight it brings into one’s life, seeing as God sees and allowing that sight to direct one’s path. Having vision flows out of devotion to God’s person. But to have vision we must start with God’s Word and our relationship with Him.

Because We Want to Glorify Him

1 Peter 4:10-11 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here is a wonderful passage that calls us to serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God according to the particular gifts God has given us, whether a service gift or a speaking kind of gift, for both are given to enable us to minister to one another. But the basis and motivation for whatever we do is God’s glory that in all things He may be glorified through the Savior. Only through our new life in Him do we have both the needed spiritual gifts for ministry, and the capacity and strength to live an other-oriented, non-selfish life as epitomized in both the Father’s gift of His Son and the Son’s gift of His own life for us.

With these seven principles as a basis for our thinking and response to God’s grace and purposes, let’s look at some of the One Another injunctions of the New Testament.

The Basic and Primary Commandment:
“Love One Another”

Our Responsibility in Loving One Another

John 15:12, 17 This is My commandment, that you love one another, …  This I command you, that you love one another.

Loving and caring for one another is not an option for the Christian. It is a mandate. It is solid proof of our love for the Lord and our fellowship with Him.

Our Example in Loving One Another

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

The Lord provides us with the perfect human example in every way, manner, degree, extent, and purpose. Though being God of very God, He left heaven’s glory and became a servant in the form of humanity, and He went to the cross to bear the shame of our sin and guilt. He did all this with a specific goal in mind—to bring men to God and heal their lives (1 Pet. 2:21).

And so it must be with us. God has left us here to minister.

Our Means and Motive in Loving One Another

Galations 5:13-26 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

The One Another commands, as with all the injunctions of Scripture, can only be carried out when we are controlled by the Spirit and thus filled with the love of God. Without the control of the Spirit, we will become indifferent to the needs of other, being dominated by the deeds of the flesh, and we will seek to meet our own needs for significance, praise, applause, or the approbation of men at the expense of others (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5).

Our Objectives in Loving One Another

(1) For a testimony to the world of the reality of God’s love in Christ: John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(2) For loves continues to increase:

(a) Increase: “and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you” (1 Thess. 3:12); and (b) Intensity and Spiritual Source: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

(3) For ministry and service to others: Ultimately, ministry and service summarize all the One Another injunctions that follow as expressions of God’s love for others.


God has called us to be a ministering people. Every born again Christian is a believer-priest (a minister by calling) who is to serve in various ways both inside and outside the church. The following are some questions we each need to ask:

(1) Ask God where He wants you to serve Him in ministry to others. The fields are white, the needs are all around us. We need to ask and pray that He will thrust us out as labors into the harvest.

(2) Ask God to burden your heart for the area of ministry He has for you. Note the three-fold work of the Godhead in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. The word “varieties” used in this passage can also be translated as “distributions” which brings out the sovereign direction of God in our ministries. There is (a) the giving of gifts for ministry by the Holy Spirit (vs. 4), (b) the Lord Jesus’ direction in ministry (vs. 5), and (c) the Father’s blessing and prospering of those ministries (vs. 6).

(3) Ask God to give you a vision for ministry, to make you bold and available. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, …” Vision ultimately refers to God’s revelation to us as we have it today in the Bible. And it is this book that gives us God’s vision or revelation of His purpose for us in loving and ministering for others for Him here on this earth, but this will only occur when it takes shape in specifics as we find the areas of ministry where God wants to use us.


[1] See Jerry Bridges discussion of these four in relation to koinonia in his book, True Fellowship, Navpress, Colorado Spirngs, 1985, pp. 16-23.

[2] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Vol. 11, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981,  p. 66.

[3] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Scripture Press, Wheaton, IL, 1983, 1985, electronic media, p. 702.

[4] Ibid., pp. 898-99.

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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Our Life Together


The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.  The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.  “Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life…God, family, children, health, the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

So pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. “Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.”  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.” (Borrowed)

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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Encouragement


‘Men of Courage’ Mission Statement and Principles

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

— I Corinthians 16:13

The Men of Courage Mission Statement – “Relying on God’s power and spirit to transform men through authenticity, affirmation, and accountability into the men God has called us to be”

Key Principles –  The men’s ministry of the ________________  strives to develop an environment based on three key biblical principles:

Authenticity –  We hope to foster a climate of genuineness and transparency where men can drop their spiritual masks. I Peter 1:6-9 states, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Affirmation – We believe in the importance of a climate of acceptance and encouragement.  John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart says that every man is haunted by the question “Have I got what it takes when it counts?”  We want to develop an environment in which men can come as they are without fear of rejection.  We’re commanded in Romans 15:7 to “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”changing lives

Accountability – We want to cultivate a climate of responsibility, not policing each other but supporting each other through shared struggles.  Secrecy and Isolation are Satan’s greatest tools, and accountability destroys their power.  The Hebrew writer encourages us to maintain accountability.  “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13. Through God’s power, we believe that in a climate of authenticity, affirmation, and accountability, ordinary men can be transformed into Men of Courage.

Men of Courage Breakfast and Bible Study

We’d like to establish a time when we can gather for fellowship and a short Bible study. Breakfast can be served and also we will be encouraged to invite your friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

 Recovery/Support Groups

In an effort to help those men who may be struggling, we’ll also see if we have a need for support groups that can be used to address current issues in our lives.

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Posted by on March 5, 2018 in Encouragement


Church leaders are called to behave better

Avoiding behaviors that diminish the influence of church leaders

Sometimes ministers go through difficult seasons.  Sometimes elders go through difficult seasons.  At times it seems that entire congregations go through difficult seasons.

Sometimes a difficult season occurs because of someone’s irresponsibility, incompetence, meanness, manipulation, or thoughtlessness.  Some ministers and some elders have been guilty of all five.

Ministers and elders will make mistakes.  Human beings make mistakes regardless of what role they might find themselves in.

Does a minister or an elder really have to be irresponsible?  When church leaders are irresponsible in what they say or in how they act, they are basically wasting the influence and the energy of the church.

Does a minister or an elder really have to be incompetent?  Church leaders do not have identical gifts or identical strengths.  Yet, if we pretend that we always know what to do, after awhile our incompetencies will become obvious to others.  When we are not learning, growing, or developing, we will never move beyond where we are right now.

Does a minister or an elder really have to be mean?  Of course not.  Yet, so often these people are not held accountable for their meanness.  For example, if an elder says something to a minister in an elder’s meeting that is rude and unkind, what do the other elders do?  In far too many churches, they simply remain silent.   (Yes, an elder close to that minister may call him later and grouse about what his fellow elder said.  However, that elder may never be confronted regarding his behavior.)

Does a minister or an elder really have to be manipulative?  No. Of course, a minister may have several friends who are also in the elder group.  However, this minister has crossed a line when he manipulates several elders behind the scenes to basically do his bidding for him in elders’ meetings.  Ministers who refuse to manipulate know how to relate and love without resorting to self-serving manipulation.

Finally, does a minister or an elder really have to be thoughtless?  No.  However, one will have to yield to the Spirit, submitting not to the flesh but to the Spirit’s desire for our lives, our relationships, and our leadership groups.  Otherwise, we will yield to the flesh, saying what is thoughtless and hurtful, and looking for a cheap laugh at someone else’s expense instead of building one another up. (Borrowed)

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Sermon


Some Pictures of Forgiveness

Removing offense far, far away from us (Ps 103:12)

forgiveness (1)(Psalm 103:12 NIV)  “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

 Putting offenses behind our backs (Isa. 38:17)

(Isa 38:17 NIV)  “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”

 Blotting out what was done  (Isa. 43:25; Psalm 51:1, 9)

(Isa 43:25 NIV)  “”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

 (Psa 51:1 NIV)  ” Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

 (Psa 51:9 NIV)  “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.”

 Casting the offense in the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:19)

(Micah 7:19 NIV)  “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

It means releasing the resentment, hatred, bitterness, ill-will & desire for revenge.  It means you don’t hold a grudge, or cherish bitterness or harbor any desire to harm them. It means dropping the case we have against them.

Does have to be from the heart (Mat 18:35 NIV)  “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””). Can’t just say the words. This is difficult to determine sometimes because we can’t necessarily keep ourselves from having primary feelings like anger. But we can make choices, including the choice to let go of the things that anger often leads to, like resentment, hatred, bitterness, & ill will.

It also means we stop trying to make them pay (we cancelled the debt so we can’t demand any more payments). We stop exacting psychological payment. If we forgive, we don’t bring it up anymore—to that person or anyone else, & we stop trying to make them pay. Both are wrong!

Does mean we stop dwelling on what was done to us. We may not be able to forget what happened and our mind may go there once in a while, but forgiveness does mean we don’t dwell on it anymore. It is taking the arrows out of our gut instead of continuing to twist them around inside of us. Whereas before we may have nurtured that hurt to keep it active & alive. But now we refused to do that. That may take some prayer to keep releasing it to God, but we don’t let our mind stay there.

Does mean treat them with love, even if we don’t feel it. Feelings are important, but they are not what we base our decisions on. We forgive because it is the right and healthy thing to do, and then we treat the person with love. When God forgives us, he doesn’t wait to see how it’s going to go before he starts to bless us again.

It does mean we are opening a door for reconciliation. That’s one of the purposes. God’s people are supposed to be reconciled to each other. We can’t say ok I forgive you but I never want to see you again. Doesn’t mean you have to be the best of friends, but it does mean you tear down the walls. And remember, reconciliation takes two people—they have to be open to it as well.

Does mean we’ll have to take responsibility for our own happiness & we’ll have to change. As long as we’re resentful we give ourselves an excuse not to do the hard work of looking at ourselves and changing our own lives. Perhaps that’s another reason why God tells us to forgive.

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Posted by on February 12, 2018 in Encouragement


How to Forgive

(Mark 11:25 NIV)  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.””

In 1944 Karl on his death bed…rehearsed his story and asked hospital attendants to find him a Jew…wanted to confess his deeds. Had been part of a group who had put 300 Jews in a building, set it on fire, and shot any who tried to run out to escape. “Can you forgive me, so I can die in peace?” Simon walked out with no response….the vast majority said Wiesenthal did the right thing. What would you do? And what would Jesus do?

power of forgivenessJesus teaches us to forgive: (Mark 11:25 NIV)  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.””

To forgive means to let go of an offense, drop the case, drop the attempts at revenge, let go of the hurt feelings, stop dwelling on it, not to bring it up again.

Even though it can be difficult, we’ve learned that we need to forgive not only because Jesus tells us to, which should be enough, but also because our salvation depends on our willingness to forgive others, because our health is at stake (spi, emot, phy), and because it is essential to having relationships. Today we want to talk about HOW to forgive. I also want to let you know that at the end of the message today, I’m going to give you an opportunity to forgive someone you need to forgive, if you are ready to do so. May or may not be. Write their name on a card, bring it to the back and give it to me. I won’t look at the names, but you can use initials or code if you prefer. And you may not be ready yet….

I want to begin by giving something of a formula to follow. Not to make forgiveness simpler than it really is but just to give us something we can remember. Then we’ll talk about some of the complexities afterward.

Face it, feel it, forgive it.

This suggests that it may take some time, and that may rub you wrong. You may feel like we ought to just do it. But you know, quite a few of the other things Jesus taught take some time too—like love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, & strength (can get started, but ALL takes a while), confess your sins to one another (be great if we just did, but it usually takes some time for us to get to that point).  Most commands are a process…they don’t immediately receive complete obedience.

What’s more, it’s important to remember what Jesus said, that, that we must forgive each other from our hearts (Matt. 18:35 NIV)  “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””). He’s not looking for us to just say, “Ok, I forgive you,” but to forgive genuinely, from our hearts. That means we are going to have to give some attention to our hearts.

Some of us are too quick to forgive—we don’t really face what was done to us or let ourselves feel the pain of what was done. Essentially, we’re in denial. There’s a fine line between denial & forgiveness—we could easily mistake one for the other. Others of us are too slow to forgive—we know full well what was done and we hold on to the pain and wallow in it. I think the approach of face it, feel it, and forgive it gives a good balance. It keeps us from “forgiving” quickly and flippantly and also keeps us from postponing forgiveness indefinitely.

One more thing, Jesus did something like this in Gethsemane. I’m not saying he was trying to create a formula, because I don’t believe that. But before he spoke the words of forgiveness on the cross, he faced the reality and felt the pain of what was about to happen.

Face it

We need to acknowledge what was done to us. Again, some of us have no problem with this (& don’t really even need to listen to this part). But others of us do need to hear it because we have a tendency to make excuses for other people or to place all the blame on ourselves, neither of which is healthy. Of course, if we have done wrong too, we need to acknowledge that, confess it to God and to someone else, and repent of what we did.

Also, forbearance is a good thing. I sure don’t want to encourage us to be sensitive and take offense more easily. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov 19:11 NIV)  “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”).

So, search your heart, pray that God will help you see things clearly. And if you think someone has in fact done you wrong, acknowledge that to yourself.

Feel it

This is profound: if you’ve been hurt, it hurts! For some reason, some of us don’t like to admit we have been hurt. At last year’s Super Bowl, Pepsi had the “I’m good” commercial where various men get whacked with a golf club, a piece of wood, an electrical charge and other things, & they always spring up and say “I’m good.” For some reason a lot of us don’t want to show it when someone’s words or actions hurt us.

But they do hurt and we need to take our hurts to God. We shouldn’t stuff it, not should we cover up the wound with alcohol, food, shopping, sex, workaholic, perfectionism or anything else. We wouldn’t leave a physical wound untreated, so why would we leave a heart wound untreated? We do that by making GOD our refuge and pouring out our hearts to God. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God knows we will get hurt, but he didn’t intend for us to stay hurt. He is the God of all comfort and he is able to comfort us.

(2 Cor 1:3-5 NIV)  ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. {5} For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Those in the ancient world were far better mourners than we are.”

Ideally, we treat each of our wounds soon after they happen. If not, we will be wounded and less capable of handling new wounds. If you wound a wounded person, it really hurts. “Don’t slap someone on the back with sunburn.” And it makes it harder for them to sort through things because the new hurt gets mixed in with the old hurts and it can be hard to tell them apart or to know for sure where the pain is coming from.

We often find some who say, “Well, just get over it.” Others: “you have a right to be angry.” Both those responses reveal an unequipped healer.

If the hurt doesn’t go away in due time, we may need to talk to a Christian therapist. Perhaps to a mature, wise, godly friend or shepherd, but we need to be careful about who we talk to or we may get worse instead of better, we may get our hurts and anger all stirred up again. Frankly I’m not sure very many of us are equipped to help others with matters like that. Be careful.

Once we have felt the pain and poured it out to God, we need to move on to the next step, even if we have to keep taking our pain to God longer.

Forgive it

We may not feel like doing it, but followers of Jesus determine their actions by faith and obedience, not by feelings. Feelings have an important place in our lives, but it is NOT to be the command center for our responses, words, and actions.

Feelings are not our command center: Jesus has that place in our life! Don’t allow your feelings to reign! Act on the will..act on a decision.

Ultimately forgiving some is a choice. It is an act of the will. And we ARE able to do it. Jesus wouldn’t have told us to do it if it were impossible to do. Like a lot of other things, we may have to learn to do it by doing it.

It may be good to tell the person you are forgiving them or maybe not. The circumstances in which we get wronged are vastly different and some could entail some danger of various kinds. So we’ll need to be discerning or get some wise counsel about whether to talk to them. I will say that if you do tell them, make sure you don’t do it in a condescending way. Sometimes it might be appropriate to write the person a letter instead of talking to them in person. Sometimes it might be best not to say anything to them but just to tell a trusted Christian friend.

We need to make forgiveness tangible: TODAY: write on a card. If others see you, that’s ok, know that you are setting a good example. Maybe you will write it down and then burn it…maybe you should consider mailing it. (Shredder provided at the foot of the cross).

Includes treating them as forgiven. May need some boundaries, especially if there was abuse or crime or if there is physical, spiritual, or emotional danger. Again, we need to make sure we don’t use boundaries as a way of hiding a refusal to forgive.

In most cases we also need to treat them with true love, be open to reconciliation and be open to slowly rebuild some trust. Again, there may be certain cases where we don’t, but remember it is easy to deceive ourselves. So again, seek wise, spiritual counsel. And know that God really does want his people to be reconciled. He doesn’t want the church to have people in it who won’t speak to each other or who avoid each other. He said the world would recognize us as his people by our love, and if there is something between people the tension will be obvious.

(Mat 5:23-24 NIV)  “”Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Mention other matters that may help:

To err is human. To blame it on the other guy is even more human. That’s not right, is it? But that is usually what we seek to do. Rather, To err is human, to forgive is divine. We need God’s help. If it seems really hard, that’s because humanly it is next to impossible. Only with God’s power and help can enough love be produced in our hearts to enable us to forgive.

Corrie ten Boom, a believer, was asked late in her life to speak to a large crowd. She saw one there who was one of the cruelest guards in the concentration camp, where she had been forced into…had lost a sister there. He approached her after the talk: “Frauline, I am a Christian and I have asked God to forgive me for the things I did there. I am asking you, will you forgive me.?” She struggled with an answer and said to herself, “Jesus, all I can do it raise my hand…you will have to help me do the rest.”  She raised her hand and was able to take the guard’s hand: “I fully forgive you, brother.” (Inrig, p 128).

Remember, forgiveness must be from the heart—so we must let God work on us.  One specific way of doing that is to meditate on how much God has forgiven you

(Luke 7:47 NIV)  “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.””).

Let his forgiveness heal & transform you, remember in order to be forgiven, we must forgive. That indicates the 2 are related. If we’re having trouble with the effect, spend time with the cause.

(2 Pet 1:3-9 NIV)  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. {4} Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. {5} For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; {6} and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; {7} and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. {8} For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. {9} But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

It may help to try to understand the other person

(Psa 103:8-14 NIV)  “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. {9} He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; {10} he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. {11} For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; {12} as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. {13} As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; {14} for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”).


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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Encouragement


Six Things To Remember When We Are Treated Unfairly

How do you react when someone treats you unfairly? Let’s say someone double crosses you or cheats you. Maybe someone lies about you and your reputation is damaged. Perhaps your boss chews you out for something you know you didn’t do or singles you out because he doesn’t like what you stand for. What is your typical response? Do you…


  • Retreat into a depression?
  • Withdraw from human interaction?
  • Look for a way to get even?
  • Vow that you’ll never do anything nice for anyone again?
  • Cheat the next guy down the line because you conclude that it’s a dog-eat-dog world?
  • Become so cynical about the world that you no longer enjoy life?

These responses are all too common. As Christians, we are called by God to be different from the world and this is one area where that difference can really show.


I suppose some of you might think it is redundant for me to say that, but it never ceases to amaze me that so many Christians get so upset when things don’t come out even.

Whoever said that this life was fair, anyway? I’m not aware of any Bible verse that teaches such a thing. Of course, God will ultimately even things out at the judgment – a point the Bible makes often – but in the here-and-now there are no guarantees. In fact, in a fallen world like ours, with mankind corrupted by a sinful nature and God allowing freedom of choice, it only follows that things are not going to be fair all the time.

Yet, it bugs us, doesn’t it? It bugs me! The bad guy sometimes wins. The criminal gets off Scot-free. The ladder climber who steps on everyone in his path gets the penthouse. The politician lies and gets away with it because the economy is good.

I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t do whatever we can when we can to make things right. I’m simply saying that sometimes making things even is beyond what we can do. At that point, so that we don’t go insane at the unbalanced nature of it all, we need to remember that we live in a fallen world and until God redeems this place from the curse and removes sin, it’s not always going to be fair.

I’m not recommending defeatism or fatalism here. I’m simply trying to be realistic. Don’t set your expectations too high. In this life, no matter how you live or what you do, life isn’t always going to be fair.


Things are going to happen in this life that we are powerless to change. We usually cannot rearrange someone else’s behavior toward us, nor can we undo the moments in which someone has hurt us. Maybe it can be prevented next time, but once it has happened, it has happened. There is no backing up.

If we keep reliving the unhappy moment and devote endless hours to appealing the verdict of a wrongdoing in our minds, we will be left spent and miserable. Though it is sometimes hard to see, time passed in the courtroom of our mind trying the case over and over is really time wasted. Even though we’re sure the verdict is guilty, there is usually no way to bring about justice in this life without becoming guilty ourselves. Our best (and sometimes only) recourse is to ask the Lord to change our inner life – to use this evil to bring about good in us.

We’ve seen that Joseph knew this truth. For all that was done to him by his brothers, he could have died a bitter and unhappy man. He didn’t do that though. At some point along the way he decided he would concentrate his energies on being the best person that he could be for God in whatever circumstance he found himself. Over the process of a lifetime, because of this attitude, God could take him from a pit to a palace. One has to wonder how different it might have been had Joseph chosen to spend endless hours licking his wounds and rehearsing his hurts. After 23 years of living with this choice of betterness rather than bitterness, as his brothers stood before him in a position where revenge could have been a snap-of-the-fingers away, his verdict was this: “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

Suppose you hold a glass of water as you walk towards me. I carelessly (or deliberately) bump into you. Whatever you have in the glass will probably spill out.

That is the way our lives are. When we are bumped, whatever is inside comes out. For most of us, an injustice done to us personally is a very jarring bump. Sadly, it is disgraceful sometimes the things that spill out.

God wants the things inside the glass cleaned up. From time to time He will allow us to be bumped, sometimes quite forcefully and unjustly, to reveal what is there. A life where the work of the Holy Spirit has been neglected will reveal a cup full of hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissention, faction, and envy. God wants all of that to change. What happens in you is far more important than what happens to you.


There is more happening when an injustice is done to us than just the unpleasantness of the moment. God is watching to see what we will do and He sees it all, from beginning to end. As the Scripture clearly reveals, He is testing us. There are so many verses on this subject that I hesitate to pick just one, however, there is a passage that I have found quite helpful at such times. Maybe it can help you.

(1 Pet. 2:19-20) says, “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”

God is watching to see how we handle unjust suffering.  So what does God want us to do when we suffer unjustly? These verses tell us that it finds favor with God if we “bear up under the pain of unjust suffering.” When we suffer, lets make God proud by enduring the pain and handling it properly.


All of us need to set some standards for ourselves. We need to draw the line in the sand and say, “Beyond this point I will not go – not for comfort – not for security – not for revenge – not for anything!

 Paul wrote to the Ephesians “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Eph. 4:31).

 You see there is no part of “all” that allows for an exception. God wants all the bitterness out of you and me.


A doctor told a man that he had rabies. Upon hearing the diagnosis, he took out a piece of paper and started writing on it. The doctor thought, “Oh, he must be making up his will,” so he asked, “What are you doing, making up your will?” The man said, “No, I’m just writing down every person I’m going to bite.”

 Sadly, that is how some folks handle injustice. They are so bitter that they bite everyone else around them. We must never bow to bitterness.


God has spelled out what our behavior is to be in the kind of situation we’re discussing in many places in Scripture. I’ll mention just a few:

 Matthew   5:44 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…”

 Luke   6:27-28 says, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…”

Romans   12:20 says, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink..”


It isn’t particularly difficult to figure out what these verses say we must do. The difficult part is our feelings, isn’t it? Why is it so hard…

  • To get on our knees and pray for that person whose carelessness or neglect caused us so much pain?
  • To go down to the store and buy a gift and send it to that person whom we know must hate us?
  • To say something that blesses them rather than cursing them under our breath?

The answer is simple. Every feeling in our bodies is screaming that it isn’t right!

Ah! We’ve come to an important crossroad in this matter. We’ve come to the place where we learn whether we’re serious about our faith or not. The true Christian will strive to do what is right even if his/her feelings aren’t in favor of it.

Many of us have yet to learn this very important part of our faith. Doing the right thing isn’t always the thing that makes us feel good at the moment.

Many of the things God has called us to do require us to go against our feelings for the moment. “Love your enemies?” Who feels like doing that?

But, you see the Christian knows that actions lead, feelings follow. Want to see an example?

 John   3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son….”

 God loved us so much that He gave His Son. How do you suppose that made God feel? Was He jumping for joy when His Son hung suffering on the cross? What do you think would have happened had God acted on His feelings that day rather than His loving commitment to offer a way for the world to be saved?

The right thing isn’t always the thing that feels good at the moment. Actions lead, feelings follow. Where did the good feelings come in then, when Jesus died on the cross? They came later, after the sacrifice had been made and people were coming to God because of what Jesus did!

Hebrews   12:2 says exactly that: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”

 The joy followed the cross. It didn’t come prior or during. Likewise, the good feelings that result from our doing right usually come after the act, not before. If we wait around in the beginning, hoping to get our feelings to go along with our actions, we’ll seldom do what is right.

How about it?  Are you returning good for evil? Are you turning the other cheek when it is appropriate? Are you walking the second mile? Are you praying for that person who has hurt you so? Are you, like God, allowing whatever blessings you have in your life to fall on the just and the unjust, or are you selective, based on the records you’ve kept of wrongs done against you? Are you blessing rather than cursing? (The word “bless” in this case means literally, “to speak well of.”)

 “But I don’t feel like it!” Welcome to the world of discipleship. It’s that way for all of us.


In (Matthew 18), Jesus tells the story of a man who owed a king ten million dollars. There was no way he could pay his debt and in that day, there was no bankruptcy – only debtor’s prison or slavery. As he was about to be thrown into prison, he begged the King to give him another chance and more time to pay. The King listened to his pleading and felt mercy for him. He didn’t just give him more time to pay. He completely forgave the debt. The man walked away free.

You probably know the rest of the story. As soon as he got home he found someone who owed him a few hundred dollars. The man didn’t have the money, so this man who had just been forgiven a debt of millions of dollars had his own debtor thrown into prison. After all, it’s only just. “It’s what the man had coming for what he did to me. He should learn to pay his debts on time! It’s his fault. Fair is fair, right?”

Then the King got word of the whole thing. He was angry and resummoned the man he had forgiven just a short time before. To make the long story short, he called the unforgiving man “wicked” and reinstated his millions of dollars of debt. The man went to prison until he could pay it off – which, of course, was never. He went to prison for the rest of his life.

Then Jesus said, “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

 My friends, no matter whom might wrong us, we are still the bigger debtor. We always will be. God has forgiven a huge debt that we could never pay on our own. Because of that, is it really that much for God to ask us to overlook some of these hurts we experience here? I think not.

 Are you one who feels you must even the score here? Then expect God to even the score on you when you get to judgment.


A certain tenant farmer had worked hard for many years to improve the production of the land he leased. Then something happened that caused him to become very bitter. When it was time to renew his lease, the owner told him he was going to sell the farm to his son who was getting married. The tenant made several generous offers to buy it himself, hoping the man’s decision would be reversed, but his pleading got nowhere.

As the day drew near for the farmer to vacate his home, his weeks of angry brooding finally got the best of him. He gathered seeds from some of the most pesky and noxious weeds he could find. Then he spent many hours scattering them on the clean, fertile soil of the farm, along with a lot of trash and rocks he had collected.

To his dismay, the very next morning the owner informed him that plans for his son’s wedding had fallen through, and therefore he would be happy to renew the lease. He couldn’t understand why the farmer exclaimed in agonizing tones, “What a fool I’ve been!”

 Try as we might to even up the score when we’re treated unfairly, the result for us will be the same as it was for that tenant farmer. At the end, we’ll exclaim, “What a fool I’ve been!”

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Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Encouragement

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