Loving others in the church (3)
A key way of loving others, and promoting unity in our churches, is to encourage people. When we criticise others, we can make them feel inferior or cause resentment to develop. That doesn’t mean we should let ungodly behaviour go unnoticed; there’s a place for discipline and constructive criticism, but it should be done with love and sensitivity. We should be aiming to be positive with our words, to tell people when they’ve done something right and to speak positivity into people’s situations. The Bible says, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.’ Encouragement can go beyond words. We should be encouraging people to try something new, step out of their comfort zones and bring new ideas. Sometimes we can be wary of change, afraid that it will mess up our traditions and our routines. But when we invite people to start to use their gifts, they can bring freshness and creativity. We should be encouraging people to get involved and use what God has given them to develop the church. Forgiveness is another important part of having a loving and united church. When someone hasn’t been encouraging towards us, we have a choice. We can either let bitterness take root, or we can forgive them. If we don’t choose to forgive, bitterness and resentment can start to affect how we respond to that person, and to others. And if we choose to talk to others about what that person did to us, it can cause resentment and tension to spread around the church. The Bible says, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). Let’s choose to live by that verse, and love others with encouragement and forgiveness.
Is there someone you need to forgive in the church? Spend some time asking God to help you start the process of forgiveness.
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