Jim Luebe, a man who impacted me in college, recently wrote this helpful article on the subject of biblical love:
“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
There’s a clear connection between unity in the body and the advancement of the Gospel. But this truth cuts both ways. A lack of love and unity can be a severe hindrance to the advancement of the Gospel.
Many of us are unaware of the main reason overseas missionaries return prematurely from the mission field. It’s not because of inadequate funding. It’s not due to challenges from hostile governments. The primary reason they return home is conflict on their teams!
Relational conflict and differences of opinion are inevitable when you live and work closely with people. You don’t have to be a missionary to experience this. In fact, you don’t have to look any further than your own marriage. How can it be that the person you love the most in the world is also the person you sin against most often and from whom you continually need to seek forgiveness?
Here are seven simple (but not easy) biblical steps that can help you foster love and unity in any relationship.
- Be humble. (1 Peter 5:5,6)
- Believe the best in people. (Philippians 4:8)
- Keep short accounts and take pains to have a clear conscience with both God and people. (Acts 24:16)
- Don’t let a root of bitterness grow in your heart. (Ephesians 4:31)
- Overlook offenses when possible. (Proverbs 19:11)
- Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)
- Be controlled by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
Search your heart and think about the close relationships you have. Ask God if there is anything you need to do to “have a clear conscience before God and man” (Acts 24:16). For the sake of the Gospel, let’s work at loving one another.