TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR EACH OTHER’S GROWTH

Spur one another toward love and good deeds

Although we come to know the Lord individually, and at different times, we are all born into the same family of God, Body of Christ, Church of God. God makes us brothers and sisters. We are also different parts of the same body. What an awesome thought! He has given us different gifts and abilities to complement and to build each other up. His intent is to “Prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ [that phrase means us] may be built up…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13 NIV84). 

In the average natural family, siblings take care of each other.

For example, if the younger needs something, and the parents are tied up doing other things, the older ones handle the situation. Also, siblings who attend the same school, for instance, look out for each other, making sure all the siblings are safe and not being bullied by some trouble-maker. 

I remember vividly, many years ago, that I punched some guy in the stomach (I was so short, that was the spot I could reach) for harassing my older sister. Under that circumstance, my reaction came very natural to me. I didn't think twice about what my response should be, or what the probable counter response could be. This was my sister. I had to protect her. I wasn't about to put up with any nonsense. That’s all there was to it, so I punched him. Needless to say, we never heard another word out of that bully. 

In a similar way, God expects us to take care of each other under all circumstances to foster each other’s spiritual growth. The Scriptures admonish us to, “Consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds” (Hebrew 10:24 NIV84). Synonyms for spur include incite, urge, and even goad. 

So how can we spur one another in the right direction? Which is the direction towards love and good deeds?

Love and respect – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV84). 
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV84). 
“Love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV84). 
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers”
(1Peter 2:17 NIV84).

Rebuke and correct – “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4 NIV84). For example, the apostle Paul rebuked Peter when Peter was being hypocritical regarding his association with the gentiles (See Galatians 2:11-14 NIV84). We should do likewise if the need arises.

Forgive – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV84). 
“As God’s chosen people,...Bear with each other…Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV84). Do you have an issue with a brother? Handle it. 

Support/Encourage – King Saul, being jealous of David, pursued the young man relentlessly from place to place. During one of those pursuits, Jonathan, son of Saul “Went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. ‘Don’t be afraid’ he said” (1 Samuel 23:16-17 NIV84).  How beautiful! Can we help each other find strength in God during hard times? Sure we can, and we should. 
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak…Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Roman 15:1, 2 NIV84).
“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrew 13:3 NIV84). 

Pray for each other – “Always keep on praying for all the saints”
(Ephesians 6:18 NIV84). When was the last time you prayed for a brother or sister? 
Be examples for each other – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV84). 
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5 NIV84).

Stay in touch and meet together often – “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the Day approaching” (Hebrew 10:25 NIV84).  When was the last time you checked on a brother or sister to make sure he or she is okay?

Be kind and hospitable – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13 NIV84). Do you know of any needs in the body? Have you responded? If it is within your means, please respond!
Luke the Physician, in reference to the new converts at Pentecost reported, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 NIV84).

Serve one another – “Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV84).  Do you usually like to be the one who is served? Jesus washed the disciples’ feet! Think about it.

Live peaceably – “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15 NIV84). 
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15 NIV84). The devil enjoys nothing better than to see fights among Christians, because then he gets the opportunity to slander (See 1 Timothy 5:14), and also disrupt God’s work. 

The growth of the Church is so important to God that He does not cease to admonish us continually to take care of each other. He says in 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 NIV84, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Also, in verses 14-15 He says, “We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

May God help us to continue to build each other up, more and more (See 1 Thessalonians 4:1) for the growth and stability of the Church and for His glory!