God doesn’t ask us to do anything that He didn’t model in Jesus. He also empowers us to do them.
Paul says in Philippians 2:13,
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. NIV
The Amplified Classic Edition says it this way:
13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the desire and power], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
We were talking yesterday about how to speak to each other concerning the building program at church; what we discovered is how God would like for us to treat everyone we know! Let’s look at the passage again:
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- Get rid of all- In order to get rid of anything, we must first identify the bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander in our lives. The key word is “all.” We can keep none of it back and succeed. In verse 30, Paul uses the word, “grieve,” regarding the Spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, he uses the word, “quench.” Hanging onto any of these will quench the Spirit’s work in our lives. It’s like turning the faucet nearly all the way off and trying to fill a bathtub.
- Be kind and compassionate to one another-
- Kindness- the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
- Compassion- pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
These two leave no room for bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander. They are what we use to fill the empty spaces that the others leave. We cannot do these on our own. We must ask and then allow the Holy Spirit to work with us and through us. It’s a cooperative effort.
- Follow God’s example- The secret to this one is to study the life of Jesus. He is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). John describes God as love (1 John 4:8). We also have some lists that are given to us in Exodus 34:6-7 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We ARE dearly loved children. John also says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
- Walk in the way of love- Jesus showed us how: self-sacrificing, loving us even knowing that we may not return His love. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down your life for your friends” (John 15:13). The way of love is not easy, but it is very rewarding.
In order to do this right, we must practice these four commands routinely. Therefore, we would do well to use them on every person we know–especially family members. If we can do it with them, then we can do it with anyone!
Abba, help us to practice these commands on each other. May we be able to gently remind each other when we get aggressive or stubborn. May we praise each other when we are doing well. Show us how to love like You, Abba. Amen.