We need to strive for the attitude and the relationship of a close family in our local congregations, a family that is loving, encouraging, and eager to do the work of the Lord. We need to be a place where we respect and love one another and where every member of Christ’s body feels welcomed and needed. These bonds of our Christian family should be even stronger than those of our physical family.
Disunity in the Family of God
We have, in our culture, a passion for dramatics and sensationalism. When working with one another, though, we have to avoid this temptation. Proverbs 17:9 warns us against spreading troubles and rumors, causing separation among the brethren. Instead, we should seek love and forgiveness with each other. The harm caused by rumors can take a lifetime to undo. Proverbs 17:14 calls strife and contention like water released from a dam. Our foolish arguments can become uncontrollable; feelings escalate and devastation follows, all based on personal interpretations or second- or third-hand accounts of events.
In Proverbs 26:17, we are warned from meddling in someone else’s quarrels, in inserting ourselves into others’ business. We hear one side of a situation in progress, and we try to make judgments based on few facts. We want to get our two cents in without seeing that those two cents were poorly spent. There is a big difference between encouragement and meddling, and Proverbs 26:20 tells us that depriving a fire of wood quenches it.
Proverbs 26:21 and Proverbs 15:18 both warn us against stirring up strife, against serving self at the expense of others. Proverbs 25:18-20 also tells us to be trustworthy in our interactions with others. When we manipulate or spin information, we undermine our trustworthiness as much as if we simply outright lied. Proverbs 22:14 addresses insincere flattery, empty words meant to get somebody on your side, being a “yes-man.” We practice deceit when we assign motives to actions that we don’t truly understand, when we voice agreement without commitment.
For a family to remain functional and cohesive, we need to deal with each other honestly and selflessly. We need to show wisdom and calm in our interactions with each other. Proverbs 16:7 tells us we should be at peace with God first. Then we can have peace with one another. Proverbs 15:8 encourages us to exercise self-control. Proverbs 18:13 reminds us to be slow to respond and quick to hear.
Proverbs 20:3 asks us to avoid starting quarrels with each other, and Proverbs 15:1-2 reminds us to answer with love and gentleness when disagreements do arise. Proverbs 10:19 advises us to be people of few words, to avoid talking ourselves into a hole. Finally, Proverbs 10:12 emphasizes the importance of love. That should be at the center of our relationships with one another. Whether building up or rebuking, love should be the motivation of our actions.
The blessings we have in the relationships born of our Christian family are valuable beyond words. Let’s be careful to keep those relationships intact and maintain peace and unity among our Christian family.
lesson by Mark Ritter