Accept

“Accept one another, then,
just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.”
Romans 15:7*

Accept: to receive with approval or favor, to welcome

Paul told the members of the church in Rome
to accept each other.
Which implies that the members of the church in Rome
were not accepting each other.

What was their problem?

To find out, we have to backtrack a bit, to Romans 14. It seems everybody was caught up in a debate about meat. Yes, meat. Specifically, meat that had been sacrificed to idols and then put up for sale in the marketplace. To eat this meat, or not to eat this meat — that was the burning question. The issue was dividing people and harming the church’s testimony in the community.

Paul called the believers out and said,
“You meat eaters, don’t look down on the ones who don’t eat meat.
You non-meat eaters, don’t condemn the meat-eaters.
Here’s the deal: God accepts both. So accept one another.”
(Romans 14:3, my paraphrase)

We don’t squabble about meat that is sacrificed to idols in our day. But we have our own “disputable matters” (Ro. 14:1). Plenty of them. Does Paul’s advice work if we substitute in our issues? Let’s put it to the test. (Words in italics are subbed in to the actual passage.)

The one who doesn’t wear a mask must not look down on the one who does, and the one who does wear a mask must not condemn the one who doesn’t, for God has accepted him. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. If your brother is distressed because you don’t wear a mask, you are no longer acting in love. Do not, by your choices, destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of masks. (Romans 14:3, 13, 15, 20)

Yep, it works.

Paul leveled the playing field with the reminder that
every one of us has been accepted by Christ.
In all my sin and shame and stupidity,
Christ welcomed me in.
In that spirit,
we are commanded to accept each other.

But if we insist on digging in our heels
and disputing over opinions,
we rob God of the praise He is due.
Father, forgive us.


Help us, Your children, to accept one another.

*Part five in a series on “The One Anothers”

Harmonize

“Live in harmony with one another.” Romans 12:16*

#1) Harmony: pleasing arrangement of parts, melodious
Go ahead. Enjoy a few minutes of soul-melting harmoniousness.

#2) Dissonance: harsh discord, cacophony
Listen to this now. It’s only 55 seconds long.
It sounds a lot like my 2 year old granddaughter at the keyboard.

Any questions?
Be like #1.

Harmony is not unison. You don’t get harmony by everyone playing the same note. Harmony does not mean everyone thinks the same nor does the same. To live in harmony with one another is to live in such a way that you enrich and complement each other. Together you are more than any of you would be on your own. There is a display of beauty that comes from taking what is distinct and different and making it one.

Is there anything that is more desperately needed in our world today than this? Our country is tired of polarization, division and conflict. The world desperately needs to see something different, and God says, “Let it be seen in the church!”

Colin Smith @ http://www.unlockingthebible.org

Dear God, I want to be a harmonious contributor to the body of Christ. Help me to celebrate our shared purpose of bringing You glory. Equip me and empower me to add to the beauty of Your Bride, the church. Put a guard over my mouth when I’m tempted to spew out cacophony. Help us, Your children, to live in harmony with one another.

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

*Part three in a series on “The One Anothers”

Honor

“Outdo one another in showing honor.”*
Romans 12:10

When I was in 2nd grade, I was a Brownie. My friends and I walked to the Methodist church after school on Tuesdays. We put on our beanies and brown sashes and gathered around tables in the musty basement. We proudly stood, raised our three fingers and recited the oath:

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
to help people at all times,
and to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Honor.
It’s not a word that gets much attention these days.
So how do we honor each other, as commanded in the Bible?

The word honor in the original language is “time” (pronounced tee-may). It means:

  • to value the worth of every brother and sister in Christ.
  • to show genuine appreciation and admiration for fellow believers.
  • to give preference to one another, putting them first.
  • to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, without jealousy.
  • to extend to another the first opportunity.
  • to serve someone else, even at personal expense.
  • to value the relationship over being right.

Paul gave the same message to the believers in Philippi:

Put yourself aside,
and help others get ahead.
Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Phil. 2:4 — The Message

Get beyond yourselves
and protecting your own interests; 
be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.

Phil. 2:4 — The Voice

That’s why it’s so hard to honor one another. It doesn’t come naturally. It takes great humility and unselfishness. We need the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in us to pull this off. But can you see how amazing it would be if everyone in the faith community honored each other?

“Take the lead in honoring one another.”
Romans 12:10 — CSB

Who will take the lead?

“Practice playing second fiddle.”
Romans 12:10 — The Message

Second fiddle, anyone?

Lord, help me to overflow with respect and genuine appreciation for others in my community of faith. Forgive me for putting my selfish desires ahead of others’ needs. Give me Holy Spirit power to take the lead in honoring my brothers and sisters. Show me how to play second fiddle with joyful abandon. Help us, your children, to honor one another.

On my honor, I will try.

*Part 2 in a series on “The One Anothers”.

Devoted

When I hear the word “devoted” I can’t help but think of Sandy, in her white nightgown, sitting on the porch, lovesick for Danny, singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” If that’s not your first thought, then I guess maybe you weren’t a teenager in the 70s listening to the new musical “Grease”. I guess maybe I was.

What does it mean to
“be devoted to one another in love”? *

Devoted: zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection; faithful, constant, loyal.

Those are good definitions, but when Paul wrote this, he had something more in mind. Finding the right word was so important to Paul that he invented a brand new word, used only this one time in the Bible.

We make up words all the time.
Have you ever been hangry (hungry + angry)?
Have you ever used a spork (spoon + fork)
when eating brunch (breakfast + lunch)
while glamping (glamorous + camping)?

Paul was a master wordsmith who took two words, mashed them together, and created an expression that was revolutionary.

Here it is:
Philos + Storge = Philostorgos

Philos means intimate, authentic love between friends that wants what is best for the other person.
Storge means unconditional, protective love experienced between family members.

When mashed up, philostorgos means:

  • you can count on me to show up.
  • you can trust me with your truest self.
  • you are a sister/brother to me.
  • I will not undermine, criticize or gossip about you to others.
  • I will encourage you to grow in your faith.
  • I will open up my heart to you and give you my truest self.
  • Our friendship is based on loyal commitment.
  • Our relationship is mutual and life-giving.
  • Our devotion to each other will grow a strong, warm community.

Far from being hopelessly devoted,
this kind of devotion between believers
is filled with hope.

Father, forgive me for my lack of devoted love for those in my community of faith. I confess my flagging commitment and complacent attitude. Show me where my devotion is misplaced and increase my desire to be an enthusiastic, consistent member of my church family. Help us, Your children, be devoted to each other in love.

*Part 1 in a series on “The One Anothers”.
Related post: The One Anothers

The One Anothers

The phrase “one another” is found over 50 times in the New Testament. These words were written to churches, giving practical instructions to the community of believers on how to get along. Evidently, they needed help.

In the original language, the word for “one another” is “allelon” and it’s a plural, reciprocal pronoun. Which means Barney had the right idea:

“I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family….”

The first century church was an eclectic mix of slaves and masters, Greeks and Jews, men and women. Congregations consisted of people who would not have associated with each other under any other circumstances. You could say they were people from both sides of the aisle.

The focus of the “one anothers” was on relationships between fellow believers in Jesus. It was crucial for members of the early church to do some really good “one anothering” to maintain their witness.

Around 200 A.D., church leader Tertullian wrote, “It is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. ‘See how they love one another’, the pagans say.”

That kind of church could change the world.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

I think we’re supposed to love one another.
Plural. Reciprocal.
Allelon.

In a world of division and mean-spiritedness,
the body of Christ has the privilege and responsibility
to display unity and warm-heartedness.

You’re my “one another”.
I’m your “one another”.
Let’s find out how to “one another” each other, shall we?

Two Thumbs Up

I’m back in business.

On September 10th, I strolled into the operating room, chatted with the surgeon about football while he fixed my stuck ligament, and then I strolled back out with three little stitches holding me together.

I did milk it a bit by spending a whole day on the couch watching cooking shows. And I did convince PB that I couldn’t wash dishes for two weeks.

Now that the stitches are out and my thumb is moving every which-way without pain, the gig is up. No more lolly-gagging. Life is good.

I’ll be starting a new series soon!
“The One Anothers”
The Bible has over 50 “one another” statements.
They were given to teach the early believers how to live with each other
in such a way that the church would stand out in their culture as a place of
joyful hope, compassionate healing and warm fellowship.

Seems like now would be a good time for a refresher.

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