by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
1 Peter 4:8-11, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, sincere love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good steward's of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Christians often treat each other like garbage. This is particularly evident in online forums and “discussion” groups. Although it's ridiculous and shouldn't be this way, it's nothing new. The Apostle Paul warns believers in Galatians 5:15 about biting and devouring each other. This is not only sad it's pitiful. Christians treat Christians horribly in many ways: gossip, fighting, arguing, name-calling, accusing, etc. This is completely upside down from how things are supposed to be.
We should be treating believers better than we treat unbelievers, but often times our brothers and sisters in Christ are treated with utter disrespect. I've heard the complaint from those outside the Church far too often, “Why would I want to be a part of that when you guys treat each other so badly?” And their question is valid. So much hostility is displayed within the body of Christ.
So, how should we treat each other? What does the Bible say about how Christians should treat fellow believers? Well, let's look at Galatians 6:10, “so then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH” (emphasis added). Philippians 2:3 says, “with HUMILITY of mind, regard one another as MORE IMPORTANT than yourselves” (emphasis added). And within Romans 12:9-14 we find the words “be DEVOTED to one another in LOVE, GIVE PREFERENCE to one another in HONOR, not lagging in diligence...” (emphasis added).
How should we be acting toward each other? How should we behave toward one another? Remember when Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you....”? I imagine the disciples were thinking along the lines of, “Oh great. A new command? Another one to be added to the Law we are already unable to keep. Another 'to-do' on our never ending list of 'to-do's.'” But that didn't happen. Christ simply added, “Love each other.” That was the new commandment, love each other. And we see Peter repeating this again here in 1 Peter 4, “Love each other; share with each other; serve each other.”
It's clear from our passage that as Peter refers to this new commandment he's taking it to a new level. He's writing in a way to instruct them to kick it into a higher gear if you will. He's teaching to take the commandment to love one another seriously, to go the extra mile.
“Take your love to a HIGHER level. Stretch your hospitality BEYOND what you usually do. Serve each other BETTER than you treat yourself” (Wise, Larry. “Behold How They Love One Another,” sermoncentral.com).
1 Corinthians 13:5-7, “Love is PATIENT and KIND; love does NOT envy or BOAST; it is NOT ARROGANT or RUDE. It does NOT insist on its own way; it is NOT irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love BEARS all things, believes all things, HOPES all things, ENDURES all things” (ESV, emphasis added).
I suggest we put our egos aside and serve each other. We need to show love to each other as all of these passages instruct us to. The simple fact is, we are not glorifying God unless we treat our brothers and sisters of the household of faith better than we treat people outside of the body of Christ. Even with that said, we are also instructed to love our enemies as well. So, love seems to be the key.
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