Guarding the Flock
“Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” (Col 3:14 LB)
Unity in the church is so important that the New Testament addresses the topic even more than heaven and hell. Therefore, it is our job as believers to protect the unity of our church. In His final moments before being arrested, Jesus prayed passionately for our unity. It was our unity that was uppermost in His mind and having paid the highest price for it, He wants it protected from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony. Paul admonished,
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3 NIV)
Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
“Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another’s character.” (Rom 14:19). Remember that it is God who chose to give us different personalities and preferences. We should choose to value and enjoy those differences, not merely tolerate them, knowing that God wants unity, not uniformity. Paul stressed, “I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” (1 Cor 1:10 NLT)
Be realistic in your expectations.
The gap between the ideal and the realistic is wide so strive to love the church in spite of its imperfections. Others will disappoint you and let you down, but that’s no excuse to stop fellowshipping with them. “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Eph 4:2 NLT) When you are hurt by others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, instead of leaving the church, stay and work it out if at all possible. Reconciliation, not running away, is the road to stronger character and deeper fellowship.
Choose to encourage rather than criticize.
“What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.” (Rom 14:4 CEV) When you judge another believer, four things occur: Loss of fellowship with God; exposure of your own pride and insecurity; judgment from God; harming the fellowship of the church. It is the devil’s desire to blame, complain, and criticize. Anytime we do the same, we are taking sides with his agenda. “So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.” (Rom 14:19 MSG)
Refuse to listen to gossip.
Gossip is passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. The fastest way to end a conflict is to lovingly confront those who are gossiping and insist they stop it. As Solomon pointed out, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and tensions disappear when gossip stops.” (Prov 26:20 LB)
Accept your responsibility to protect and promote the unity of your church. Put your full effort into it and God will be pleased.
Lord, in this new year, I will promote unity and love in my church family.
May it be as important to me as it was when Jesus prayed for it.
I will focus on what I have in common with others, not their differences from me.
I will overlook the imperfections in others.
I will encourage rather than criticize.
And I will refuse to gossip.
Lord, be pleased with my life as I pursue unity in my church family.
In Jesus’ Name.
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