April 6, 2011
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;”
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When describing the body of Christ, that is, the church, the Lord Jesus emphasizes the inter-related and inter-dependent unit of all believers. He has given spiritual gifts to saints, to unite them, to edify one another, and to make His church function properly.
Devoted to One Another. Paul chose the word “devoted” (“φιλόστοργοι“) here and it does not appear elsewhere in the New Testament. This single Greek word combines a common word for love and another word for the mutual love between parents and children. In this context, Paul commands all believers to look after the needs of one another and love one another mutually. The New Testament illustrates this point with both Philemon and his runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul wrote that Philemon had been a source of comfort, joy, love and spiritual refreshment to Paul, particularly during Paul’s imprisonment (Philemon 1:7). Likewise, Onesimus, the runaway slave of Philemon, had also ministered to Paul while he was imprisoned. Paul told Philemon that Onesimus had become his spiritual child during the imprisonment, and that Onesimus had become very useful as he ministered to Paul’s needs (Philemon 1:10-13).
So many assemblies I have visited have a frigid temperature among themselves. Various saints have strong disputes between them, and have never resolved them. Factions in the assembly have never reconciled in Christ. They may pray for one another at the public meeting, but they have nothing outside the meeting to connect their lives. Paul commanded all saints to be devoted to one another in love.
Brotherly Love. How many times have you heard a believer say: “I love Mary, but I do not like Mary.” Somehow, they think in their minds that love does not include affectionate devotion to one another. Their speech discloses their thoughts, which in turn reveal a heart unmoved by love for Mary. They do not believe and act upon the concept that love means you will do the best for another saint. Each of us must serve the other saints with our spiritual gifts and talents, and not just our emotions. Paul chose the word “philadelphia” (“φιλαδελφίᾳ“), translated brotherly love, to describe how we should live with other saints. The proper use of the spiritual gifts will promote greater closeness in the Body of Christ, and you will have an interest in building up the body of Christ when you see yourself as totally connected to the other saints, even the ones you do not like. Christ likes all His children. Consider too that saints should be so closely knit together in love that when one saint suffers, all the saints suffer. When one saint receives honor, all the saint receive honor (1 Corinthians 12:26).
So we learn that we must being devoted to one another in brotherly love.
● As part of your continual service to Christ as a living sacrifice, you must use your spiritual gifts today as part of your devotion in brotherly love to the other saints around you.
● As we use our spiritual gifts each day, we demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit within us, as God promotes spiritual unity through the use of our spiritual gifts.
● We hinder spiritual unity when any of the saints refuse to use our spiritual gifts to promote an attitude of spiritual love for one another and every single person within the Body of Christ.
Application for Today
Today, I want to be devoted to the saints in brotherly love. I am sure that the Lord Jesus will present many opportunities to do so. Do you need to renew your devotion to Christ and His saints today?