Romans 15:5-7 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
One of the things that I’ve experienced through the years as I’ve moved through various denominations on both the conservative side of Christianity to the more subjective, charismatic groups is that there are doctrines and theologies that separate Christians. I don’t believe God intended for His family to be separated over differences in doctrines.
Leading up to this portion of Scripture we see that the Christians in that day and time were separated over what they ate. Some of them felt they could eat everything and others though they could only eat vegetables. Some of them felt they could eat food that had been offered to idols and some didn’t. The ones who felt the freedom to eat anything they wanted were causing the others to stumble in their walk with the Lord because they ate before them without having respect for their feelings. We are all at different places in our walk with the Lord. No one is above the other and each one deserves the respect that we would want to receive ourselves. The important thing to remember is to walk in love towards each other by doing and saying what would edify, or build up, the other believer.
Romans 14:15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
So many times we are determined to do what we think is right or okay simply because we want to prove a point to another person that it’s okay to live the way we want. Friends, that’s not walking in love. Love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
My mother used to tell me that honey draws more flies than vinegar. In other words, if you want to draw people to yourself in order to share the love of God with them, don’t attack them with your legalistic view of God’s word by adamantly speaking your mind about theological points or doctrinal issues. As long as we have each received Jesus as Savior and Lord we belong to the same family; we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Show some grace for where the other person is spiritually. Some are weaker than others, but one of the quickest way to drive a wedge between two people is to act like you are more spiritual or more knowledgeable than them.
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
God says that the only thing we owe to another individual is to love him. Whew! That takes a lot of responsibility off of me! You mean, I am not responsible for another person’s spirituality? No, that’s the job of the Holy Spirit. My job is to love them and in doing that present an avenue by which the Holy Spirit has an opportunity to point out changes that need to be made in their lives as well as in the way they view God’s word. There’s too much separation in the Body of Christ.
Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The law was given as a tutor to lead us to Christ Jesus who came to fulfill the law. God is love; He does not just love us; it is His nature to love. There is no way that He could be anything but love. So, Love Himself, fulfilled the law through the love that He showed us in giving His only begotten Son to die for us. He didn’t condemn us or demand that we perform a list of requirements to a certain standard before we would be received by Him, but He simply loved us into His family through the blood of Jesus. If He had looked at our sin and rated us like we judge those around us, according to the severity of their faults, we would not have been able to make the grade and all of us would have been lost for eternity. But He looked past our sin, past our failures and weaknesses and said, “they’re worth My love, My sacrifice for them so that they can come into My family.”
1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Propitiation – Greek word hilasmos – according to Strong’s concordance means Christ, through His sacrificial death, appeased the wrath of God on account of sin. It means that the payment for our sin was paid by the blood of Jesus and through the atoning death of Christ, God can be merciful to the sinner who believes in Him, and reconciliation is effected.
Jesus, through His love for us even in our most sinful state, paid the price for us to be a part of the family of God. He received us when we were at our worst, and paid the price required for us to be set free from sin and the consequences of it. It is because of His love for us that we can love others and He asks us to do that; to receive others as He has received us.
Romans 5:6-8 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
At our very worst, Christ died for us! He loved us so much that He received us in our sinful state and purchased our redemption. He saw the potential in us to be His children, walking and talking like Him, conformed to His image and likeness. It is in looking at Him and viewing others through that same attitude of love that He would ask us to love others.
Philippians 2:1-5 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
There will always be disagreements because each of us has an opinion, but the important thing to ask ourselves is: “Will I lay aside my opinion to show the love of Christ to another individual?” This is not to say that we shouldn’t take opportunities to speak the truth in love to another individual. That is to be done at the prompting of the Spirit and always in love, seasoned with grace and in a way that the other person is edified, or built up.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
It is through being like-minded, treating each other with love that the world will see that we are Christ’s disciples. They will know us by the love we share with each other.
Matthew 13:34, 35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
My friends, are you quick to point out that you are right and another is wrong? Do you become easily offended when others don’t agree with your point of view? The quickest way to deal with a lack of love for another is to understand more fully God’s love for you. When you have experienced love then you can pass it on to another. When you have received God’s forgiveness and grace you have more compassion for those who stand in need of that same forgiveness and grace from you.
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
God’s love is resident within us through His Spirit who lives in us. That word for “love” is the Greek word “agape” and it means an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of the other person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is a love by choice. It chooses to love above and beyond the feelings that you might have at the moment. That’s God’s kind of love; the love that He asks us to show to those around us.
The bottom line is this: we have that love within us through the Holy Spirit, but it is our choice to release it or hold it in. We can dam it up or let it flow freely from us. Jesus told His disciples as they were going out to minister to the lost sheep of Israel that they would encounter people as wolves in their midst, but as they had freely received from God the delivering and healing power of Jesus Christ that they were to freely give it away.
Matthew 10:7, 8 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Father, I thank You for the love that You have shown me through the blood of Jesus; that sacrifice that He made on my behalf because of the great love that You had for me. I pray that I will pass that love on to others, seeing them as better than me and not holding anything against them because they might not see things as I see them. Likewise, Father, I would ask that others would receive me as You have received me, that we might walk together as brothers and sisters in Christ, for the common good of Your kingdom’s work. Father, I pray that we would all hold each other in high esteem and place the interests of the others before our own. Thank You, Father, for placing Your love within us through Your Spirit that lives in our hearts. Help us, now, to release that love and let it flow from us to those around us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.