Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:9-16 NIV
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV
When I was 18 I had the wonderful experience of going on a short term mission trip to Mexico with my youth group. We had done all sorts of work projects for two years to raise the money to be able to go on the trip. Working together for many hours at a time prepared us in many ways to be able to live together, serve together and get along for 10 days in a different culture, away from home. The head of the mission hospital we were serving complimented our group to our leader. He told us other groups who had come to help them had poor attitudes, interpersonal conflicts and arguments.
This trip was a time of spiritual growth for me. My family did not go to church, so living and working with 12 other Christians for 10 days was a new and rewarding experience, for the most part. We had been gone from home over a week, when the strain of living and working together constantly began to wear on many within the group. Many of us were no longer acting as if we were “devoted to one another in brotherly love,” Romans 12:10a. Nor were we able to, “honor one another above ourselves,” Romans 12:10b. Instead, each of us were allowing small comments to irritate us, we were selfishly insisting on our own way, complaining, and being unkind to one another.
Wisely, our leader recognized the problem, sat us down and talked to us about how we had been treating one another and encouraged us to pair off with the person who had irritated us the most and talk the issues through. We did that, one on one. It cleared the air, gave the opportunity for asking and receiving forgiveness and paved the way for reconciliation.
Have you ever been in a situation within a Christian community that was messy, difficult or concerning? Living together brought our situation to a head quickly. We don’t usually live together in our church community. But the principle of talking issues through, one on one, asking forgiveness where needed and seeking to honor each other, being kind to others and seeking to, “live in harmony with one another,” (Romans 12:16a) will go a long way toward resolving most difficult situations we will encounter in our church community. Consider if you might need to take steps to reconcile with someone.
By Grace Hunter