Why we are afraid of one with God:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9
These verses show God’s desire to have fellowship with us. They also show why we are afraid to have fellowship with him. Adam and Eve hid from God when they heard him approaching. God wanted to be with them, but because of their sin they were afraid to show themselves. Sin had broken their close relationship with God, just as it has broken ours. But Jesus Christ, God’s Son, opens the way for us to renew our fellowship with him. God longs to be with us. He actively offers us his unconditional love. Our natural response is fear because we feel we can’t live up to his standards. But understanding that he loves us, regardless of our faults, can help remove that dread.
(The thought of two humans covered with fig leaves trying to hide from the all-seeing, all-knowing God is laughable. How could they be so silly as to think they could actually hide? Yet we do the same, acting as though God doesn’t know what we’re doing. Have the courage to share all you do and think with him. And don’t try to hide – it can’t be done. Honesty will strengthen your relationship.)
Broken ones hinder our relationship with God:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24
Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God. If we have a problem or grievance with a friend, we should resolve the problem as soon as possible. We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate others. Our attitudes towards others reflect our relationship with God (1 John 4:20).
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:14
The readers were familiar with the ceremonial cleansing ritual that prepared them for worship, and they knew that they had to be holy or clean in order to enter the temple. Sin always blocks our vision of God; so if we want to see God, we must renounce sin and obey him (see Psalm 24:3, 4). Holiness is coupled with living in peace. A right relationship with God leads to right relationship with fellow believers. Although we will not always feel loving towards all other believers, we must pursue peace as we become more Christlike.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. – 1 Peter 3:7(2)
If a man is not considerate and respectful to his wife, his prayers will be hindered, because a living relationship with God depends on right relationships with others. Jesus said that if you have a problem with a fellow believer, you must make it right with that person before coming to worship (Matthew 5:23, 24). This principle carries over into family relationships. If men use their position to mistreat their wives, their relationship with God will suffer.
(When Peter calls women the “weaker” partners, he does not imply moral or intellectual inferiority, but he is recognising women’s physical limitations. Women in his day, if unprotected by men, were vulnerable to attack, abuse, and financial disaster. Women’s lives may be easier today, but women are still vulnerable to criminal attack and family abuse. Andin spite of increased opportunities in the workplace, most women still earn considerably less than most men, and the vast majority of the nations’ poor are single mothers and their children. A man who honours his wife as a member of the weaker sex will protect, respect, help, and stay with her. He will not expect her to work full-time outside the home and full-time at home; he will lighten her load wherever he can. He will be sensitive to her needs, and he will relate to her with courtesy, consideration, insight, and fact.)
Built with others through hospitality:
Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way – now that you have come to your servant. – Genesis 18:2-5
Abraham was eager to show hospitality to these three visitors, as was Lot (19:2). In Abraham’s day, a person’s reputation was largely connected to his hospitality – the sharing of home and food. Even strangers were to be treated as highly honoured guests. Meeting another’s need for food and shelter was and still is one of the most immediate and practical ways to obey God. It is also a time- honoured relationship builder. Hebrews 13:2 suggests that we, like Abraham, might actually entertain angels. This thought should be on our minds the next time we have the opportunity to meet a stranger’s needs.
Must develop your own with God:
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the Lord, THE God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. – Genesis 28:10-15
God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Isaac was offered to Jacob as well. But it was not enough to be Abraham’s grandson; Jacob had to establish his own personal relationship with God. God has no grandchildren; each of us must have a personal relationship with him. It is not enough to hear wonderful stories about Christians in your family. You need to become part of the story yourself (see Galatians 3:6, 7).
Developing a special relationship with God:
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. – Exodus 33:11
God and Moses talked face to face in the Tent of Meeting, just as friends do. Why did Moses find such favour with God? It certainly was not because he was perfect, gifted, or powerful. Rather, it was because God chose Moses, and Moses in turn [entertainment] relied wholeheartedly on God’s wisdom and direction. Friendship with God was a true privilege for Moses, out of reach for the other Hebrews. But it is not out of reach for us today. Jesus called his disciples – and, by extension, all of his followers – his friends (John 15:15). He has called you to be his friend. Will you trust him as Moses did?
(Joshua, Moses’ aide, did not leave the tent, probably because he was guarding it. No doubt there were curious people who would have dared to go inside.)
Build through complimenting others:
Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the LORD has promised good things to Israel.”
He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.”
But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the desert, and you can be our eyes. If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the LORD gives us.” – Numbers 10:29-32
By complimenting Hobab’s desert skills, Moses let him know he was needed. People cannot know you appreciate them if you do not tell them they are important to you. Complimenting those who deserve it builds lasting relationships and helps people know they are valued. Think about those who have helped you this month. What can you do to let them know how much you need and appreciate them?
Harmed by unkept promises:
Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the LORD commands: When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said. Numbers 30:1-2
Moses reminded the people that their promises to God and others must be kept. In ancient times, people did not sign written contracts. A person’s word was as binding as a signature.
To make a vow even more binding, an offering was given along with it. No-one was forced by law to make a vow; but once made, vows had to be fulfilled. Breaking a vow meant a broken trust and a broken relationship. Trust is still the basis of our relationships with God and others. A broken promise today is just as harmful as it was in Moses’ day.
A right one with God promotes right one with others:
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. – Deuteronomy 10:16-17
God required all male Israelite to be circumcised, but he wanted them to go beyond performing the surgery to understanding its meaning. They needed to submit to God inside, in their hearts, as well as outside, in their bodies. Then they could begin to imitate God’s love and justice in their relationships with others. If our hearts are right with God, then our relationships with other people can be made right too. When your heart has been cleansed and you have been reconciled to God, you will begin to see a difference in the way you treat others.
In saying that the Lord is God of gods and Lord of lords, Moses was distinguishing the true God from all the local gods worshipped throughout the land. Then Moses went a step further, calling God “mighty and awesome”. He has such awesome power and justice that people cannot stand before him without his mercy. Fortunately, his mercy towards his people is unlimited. When we begin to grasp the extent of God’s mercy towards us, we see what true love is and how deeply God loves us.
Although our sins deserve severe judgment, God has chosen to show love and mercy to all who seek him.
Sexual sin destroys them:
If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approach her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” then the girls father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, “I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.
If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death – the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.
But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbour, for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no-one to rescue her.
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
A man is not to marry his father’s wife; he must not dishonour his father’s bed. – Deuteronomy 22:13-30
Why did God include all these laws about sexual sins? Instructions about sexual behaviour would have been vital for three million people on a 40-year camping trip. But they would be equally important when they entered the promised land and settled down as a nation. Paul, in Colossians 3:5-8, recognises the importance of strong rules about sex for believers because sexual sins have the power to disrupt and destroy the church. Sins involving sex are not innocent dabblings in forbidden pleasures, as is so often portrayed, but powerful destroyers of relationships. They confuse and tear down the climate of respect, and credibility so essential for solid marriages and secure children.
No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine-prostitute. You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both. – Deuteronomy 23:17-18
Prostitution was not overlooked in God’s law – it was strictly forbidden. To forbid this practice may seem obvious to us, but it may not have been so obvious to the Israelites. Almost every other religion known to them included prostitution as an as an integral part of its worship services.
Prostitution makes a mockery of God’s original idea for sex, treating sex as an isolated physical act rather than an act of commitment to another. Outside of marriage, sex destroys relationships. Within marriage, if approached with the right attitude, it can be a relationship builder. God frequently had to warn the people against the practice of extramarital sex. Today we still need to hear his warnings; young people need to be reminded about premarital sex, and adults need to be reminded about sexual fidelity.
Affect your faith:
The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. – Judges 3:5-7
The Israelites discovered that relationships affect faith. The men and women of the surrounding nations were attractive to the Israelites. Soon they intermarried, and the Israelites accepted their pagan gods. This was clearly prohibited by God (Exodus 34:15-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-4). By accepting these gods into their homes, the Israelites gradually began to accept the immoral practices associated with them. Most Israelites don’t start out determined to be idolators; they just added the idols to the worship of God. But before long they found themselves absorbed in pagan worship.
A similar danger faces us. We want to befriend those who don’t know God, but through those friendships we can become entangled in unhealthy practices. Friendships with unbelievers are important, but we must accept people without compromising or adopting their patterns of behaviour.
Of Ruth & Naomi, PROFILE 419
Our relationship with God should affect all areas of life:
“The rest of the people – priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighbouring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand – Nehemiah 10:28ff
The wall was completed, and the agreement God made with his people in the days of Moses was restored (Deuteronomy 8). This covenant has principles that are important for us today. Our relationships with God must go far beyond church attendance and regular divisions. It should affect our relationships (10:30), our time (10:31), and our material resources (10:32-39). When you choose to follow God, you promised to serve him in this way. The Israelites had fallen away from their original commitment. We must keep our promises to God in times of adversity or prosperity.
I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked. – Psalms 26:4-5
Should we stay away from unbelievers? No. Although there are some places Christians should avoid, Jesus demonstrated that we must go among unbelievers to help them. But there is a difference between being with unbelievers and being one of them. Trying to be one of them harms our witness for God. Ask about the people you enjoy, “If I am with them often, will I become less obedient to God in outlook or action?” If the answer is yes, carefully monitor how you spend your time with these people and what effect it has on you.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteous and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Paul urges believers not to form binding relationships with non-believers, because this might weaken their Christian commitment, integrity, or standards. It would be a mismatch. Earlier, Paul had explained that this did not mean isolating oneself from non-believers (see 1 Corinthians 5:9, 10). Paul even tells Christians to stay with their non-believing spouses (1 Corinthians 7:12, 13). Paul wants believers to be active in their witness for Christ to non-believers, but they should not lock themselves into personal or business relationships could cause them to compromise the faith. Believers should do everything in their power to avoid situations that could force them to divide their loyalties.
Look to restore them, not leave them:
But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. – Matthew 5:32
Jesus said that divorce is not permissible except for unfaithfulness. This does not mean that divorce should automatically occur when a spouse commits adultery. The word translated “unfaithfulness” implies a sexually immoral life-style, not a confessed and repented act of adultery. Those who discover that their partner has been unfaithful should first make every effort to forgive, reconcile, and restore their relationship. We are always to look for reasons to restore the marriage relationship rather than for excuses to leave it.
You will be treated as you treat others:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:37-38
A forgiving spirit demonstrates that a person has received God’s forgiveness. Jesus uses the picture of measuring grain in a basket to ensure the full amount. If we are critical rather than compassionate, we will also receive criticism. If we treat others generously, graciously, and compassionately, however, these qualities will come back to us in full measure. We are to forgive others, not judge them.
Importance of our spiritual family:
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with unbelievers.
“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! – Matthew 12:46-50
Jesus was not denying his responsibility to his earthly family. On the contrary, he criticised the religious leaders for not following the Old Testament command to honour their parents (15:1-9). He provided for his mother’s security as he hung on the cross (John 19:25-27). His mother and brothers were present in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Instead, Jesus was pointing out that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones, and he was paving the way for a new community of believers (the universal church), our spiritual family.
Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” – Mark 3:33-35
God’s family is accepting and doesn’t exclude anyone. Although Jesus cared for his mother and brothers, he also cared for all those who loved him. Jesus did not show partiality, he allowed everyone the privilege of obeying God and becoming part of his family. In our increasingly computerised, impersonal world, warm relationships among members of God’s family take on major importance. The church can give the loving, personalised care that many people find nowhere else.
When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. – Mark 12:25
Jesus’ statement does not mean that people won’t recognise their partners in the coming kingdom. It simply means that God’s new order will not be an extension of this life and that the same physical and natural rules won’t apply. Jesus’ comment in verse 25 was not intended to be the final word on marriage in heaven. Instead, this response was Jesus’ refusal to answer the Sadducees’ riddle and fall into their trap. Sidestepping their question about the much-married woman, he gave a definitive answer to their question about the resurrection.
(What life will be like after the resurrection is far beyond our ability to understand or imagine (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9). We need not be afraid of eternal life because of the unknowns, however. Instead of wondering what God’s coming kingdom will be like, we should concentrate on our relationship with Christ right now because in the new kingdom, we will be with him. If we learn to love and trust Christ now, we will not be afraid of what he has in store for us then.)
Develop them with other Christians:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. – Ephesian 3:14-15
The family of God includes all who have believed in him in the past, all who believe in the present, and all who believe in the future. We are all a family because we have the same Father. He is the source of all creation, the rightful owner of everything. God promises his love and power to his family, the church (3:16-21). If we want to receive God’s blessings, it is important that we stay in contact with other believers in the body of Christ. Those who isolate themselves from God’s family and try to go it alone cut themselves off from God’s power.
How to build strong ones with other Christians:
So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. – Acts 20:31, 36-38
Paul’s relationship with these believers is a beautiful example of Christian fellowship. He had cared for them and loved them, even cried over their needs. They responded with love and care for him and sorrow over his leaving. They had prayed together and comforted one another. Like Paul, you can build strong relationships with other Christians by sharing, caring, grieving, rejoicing, and praying with them. You will gather others around you only by giving yourself away to them.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. – 2 Corinthians 13:14(2)
Paul was dealing with an on-going problem in the Corinthian church. He could have refused to communicate until they cleared up their situation, but he loved them and reached out to them again with the love of Christ. Love, however, means that sometimes we must confront those we care about. Both authority and personal concern are needed in dealing with people who are ruining their lives with sin. But there are several wrong approaches in confronting others, and these can further break relationships rather than heal them. We can be legalistic and blast people away with the laws they should be obeying. We can turn away from them because we don’t want to face the situation. We can isolate them by gossiping about their problem and turning others against them as well. Or, like Paul, we can seek to build relationships by taking a better approach – sharing, communicating, and caring. This is a difficult approach that can drain us emotionally, but it is the best way for the other person, and it is the only Christlike way to deal with others’ sin.
(Paul’s farewell blessing invokes all three members of the Trinity – Father (God),Son (Lord Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. Although the term Trinity is not explicitly used in Scripture, verses such as this one show that it was believed and experienced through knowing God’s grace, love, and fellowship. See Luke 1:34 – the angel Gabriel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth to Mary, Matthew 3:17 – the Father’s voice was heard at the baptism of Jesus; and Matthew 28:19 –Jesus’ commission to the disciples.)
Why submission important to:
Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. – 1 Corinthians 11:3
Submission is a key element in the smooth functioning of any business, government, or family. God ordinated submission in certain relationships to prevent chaos. It is essential to understand that submission is not surrender, withdrawal, or apathy. It does not mean inferiority, because God created all people in his image and because all have equal value. Submission is mutual commitment and co-operation. Thus God calls for submission among equals. He did not make the man superior; he made a way for the man and woman to work together. Jesus Christ, although equal with God the Father, submitted to him to carry out the plan for salvation. Likewise, although equal to man under God, the wife should submit to her husband for the sake of their marriage and family. Submission between equals is submission by choice, not by force. We serve God in these relationships by willingly submitting to others in our church, to our spouses, and to our government leaders.
(In the phrase, “the head of the woman is man”, head is not used to indicate control or supremacy, but rather, “the source of”. Because man was created first, the woman derives her existence from man, as does from Christ and Christ from God. Evidently Paul was correcting some excesses in worship that the emancipated Corinthian women were engaging in.)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:21-22
Submitting to another person is an often misunderstood concept. It does not mean becoming a doormat. Christ – at whose name “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10) – submitted his will to his Father, and we honour Christ by following his example. When we submit to others, that is, to subordinate our rights to theirs. In a marriage relationship, both husband and wife are called to submit. For the wife, this means willingly following her husband’s leadership in Christ. For the husband, it means putting aside his own interests in order to care for his wife. Submission is rarely a problem in homes where both partners have a strong relationship with Christ and where each is concerned for the happiness of the other. [e.g. The colleges’ male and female communications. Don’t touch it, it’ll be like asking to account for what they’ve got in store for you!!!]
Christ has broken down barriers to:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility – Ephesians 2:14ff
Christ has destroyed the barriers people build between themselves. Because these walls have been removed, we can have real unity with people who are not like us. This is true reconciliation. Because of Christ’s death we are all one (2:14); our hostility against each other has been put to death (2:16); we can all have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit (2:18); we are no longer foreigners or aliens to God (2:19); and we are all being built into the holy temple with Christ as our chief cornerstone (2:20, 21).
(There are many barriers that can divide us from other Christians: age, appearance, intelligence, political persuasion, economic status, race, theological perspective. One of the best ways to stifle Christ’s love is to be friendly with only those people that we like. Fortunately, Christ has knocked down the barriers and has unified all believers in one family. His cross should be the focus of our unity. The Holy Spirit helps us look beyond the barriers to the unity we are called to enjoy.)
Between employers & employees:
Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, wither he is slave or free. – Ephesians 6:6-8
Paul’s instructions encourage responsibility and integrity on the job. Christian employees should do their jobs as if Jesus Christ were their supervisor. And Christian employers should treat their employees fairly and with respect. Can you be trusted to do your best, even when the boss is not around? Do you work hard and with enthusiasm? Do you treat your employees as people, not machines? Remember that no matter whom you work for, and no matter who works for you, the One you ultimately should want to please is your Father in heaven.
Christ can bring other believers:
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life. – Philippians 4:2-3
Paul did not warn the Philippian church of doctrinal errors, but he did address some relational problems. These two women had been workers for Christ in the church. Their broken relationship was no small matter, because many had become believers through their efforts. It is possible to believe in Christ, work hard for his kingdom, and yet have broken relationships with others who are committed to the same cause. But there is no excuse for remaining unreconciled. Do you need to be reconciled to someone today?
[Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! – Philippians 4:1. How do we “stand firm in the Lord”? This refers to what Paul has just taught in 3:20, 21. The way to stand firm is to keep our eyes on Christ, to remember that this world is not our home, and to focus on the fact that Christ will bring everything under his control.]
Broken ones affect other believers:
no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother in the Lord. – Philemon 16
What a difference Onesimus’ status as a Christian made in his relationship to Philemon. He was no longer merely a slave, but he was also a brother. That meant that both Onesimus and Philemon were members of God’s family – equals in Christ. A Christian status as a member of God’s family transcends all other distinctions among believers. Do you look down on any fellow Christians? Remember, they are your equals before Christ (Galatians 3:28). How you treat your brothers and sisters in Christ’s family reflects your true Christian commitment.
©Andrea Dodgson, KingsWay, 1971.