Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, THAT YE COME TOGETHER NOT FOR THE BETTER BUT FOR THE WORSE. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it” (1 Cor. 11: 17-18).
This should not be our testimony as a church. Our coming together ought to be for the better and not for the worse. The opposite of division is unity. To be united means we have the same mind and we take the same steps in the same direction. And our unity centres around getting better in our corporate goal of maturity in Christ and reaching the world with the gospel of Christ. Though this goal is important, there are practical actions we have to take to make this goal achievable. For instance, to solve the problem of some eating the food prepared for love feast before others arrived in 1 Cor. 11, Paul instructed that they eat at home before the feast and that they wait for one another.
Here are some practical steps we can take to help each other get better
As members of God’s family, we should not get to a point where we take each other for granted. When I was a very young believer, I grew up among a denomination where courtesy and respect were the order of the day. I was referred to by those who were way older than me as “Brother Ponnle” Those who were old enough to be my dad or mum greeted and treated me with respect, some bowed to exchange pleasantries with me. Many years down the line, I found myself among a different group of believers who were not courteous nor respectful to each other. It was altogether strange to me. Though the Word was taught and the things of the Spirit given free course, there was a major disconnect among these folks. I knew something was wrong! It was obvious they did not care for each other. Someone does not have to be older than you biologically before you honour them.
Paul ended his second letter to the Corinthians by saying “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Cor. 13:12). These greetings are done with deep affection. He wasn’t talking about literal kiss but a fraternal affection. Our greetings when we meet or call on the phone should not be superficial but deep. It must proceed from genuine love for each other.
Pray for one another :
Those who pray for each other don’t fight against each other. To pray for someone is to have them in mind. Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy” (Phil. 1:3-4). Did you notice three words in that sentence? Remembrance, prayer and joy. When he remembered them, he prayed for them with joy. You can only pray for those who are in your memory. As a family, we ought to remember to pray for one another. Jesus expressed his love for His disciples by praying for them (Jn. 17). James said to pray for one another (Jam. 5:16). Whenever you remember a fellow church member, pray for him or her!
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:12-13). We help one another get better when we are not bitter towards each other. To “forbear” carries a connotation of “willingness to suffer or put up with”. Our attitude towards any offense or misgiving is “I can put up with that, I can handle it”. We can forgive when we are willing to bear with anything knowing full well we have been forgiven in Christ.
Be ready to help in others’ spiritual development :
We must endeavour to contribute in the spiritual growth of our fellow brethren by closely mentoring new members, asking questions about pastor’s current teaching series etc. We can have discussions about what we are learning in church whenever we visit each other. Sharing your testimony of sacrifices you’ve made in times past to be committed to the Word can spur another on.
Do you know anyone in your local church particularly your department, who is not forthcoming, who is laid back in his/her activities in church? It behoves you as a brother or sister to be genuinely concerned. Your response should be in love and faith. If you truly love such a person, you will not speak ill of him or her to anyone, you will take your time to pray for him or her. Then, the next step is to call or visit him or her. Affirm the love of God and your love to such a person. You must remember that we are all at different levels of spiritual development. We must learn to seek the interest of one another. Paul lamented at some point that all men seek their own not the Lord Jesus. Selflessness plays a key role in helping each other. Don’t wait for someone to visit you, why don’t you visit them? Don’t wait for another person to show you love, go ahead and show them some love with your words and actions. Whatever you feel another should do for you, make the first move!
In helping others to be better, you have to think less of yourself. This is the life we are called to live in Christ. Our coming together is not for the worse like the Corinthian church did, but it should be for the better (1 Cor. 11:17).
We must banish divisions, envies, strife and bitterness. These always have all manner of evil works accompanying them (Jam. 3:16). Love with love unfeigned. No hypocrisy in our love. We ought to be real! It is with genuine love for one another that we get better.
Let brotherly love continue (Heb. 13:1).
Blessed by this? Please let me know at the comment section.
Grace to you!