Caring for One Another
By Lance Mosher
From its beginning, the church has been known as a family. Though made up of members from every nation and culture, speaking hundreds of different languages, the church has been called to unity and care for each other.
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added. They were devoting themselves to the apostlesʼ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Christians in the Bible, though from very different backgrounds, regularly referred to each other as brothers and sisters. With the sense of family inherent in the church, care for one another is something that the church should be and often is known for.
When the church began in Jerusalem, the new family of Christ rejoiced together. But because they came together from all walks of life and stages in their lives, the new family of Christ was made up of wealthy people, poor people, and people in between. Apparently, the poverty of some was severe enough that Christians “had need.” Notice how the other family members responded.
All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.
Christians with possessions no longer considered anything as their own. Instead, they were willing to sacrifice for the sake of their brothers and sisters. There is no wonder why the rest of verse 47 says, “And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.” Those outside the church looking in saw something that was lacking in their own families, namely, care for one another. They wanted to submit to the head of the family, Christ, to enjoy such sweet fellowship among spiritual family members.
CORRECTION AND DISCIPLINE
Not all things in the church were or are perfect. The church is made up of people. People are imperfect. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that God provided instructions for His church on how to deal with those imperfections.
Jesus teaches, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). When a Christian sins, it is the responsibility of the other Christians around him or her to correct the sinful Christian’s path.
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that personʼs soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
The purpose of approaching a sinful Christian is to “regain your brother” and “save a person’s soul from death.” For the glory of Christ and the love of the Holy Spirit, Christians have the blessing and duty of helping each other out on the way that leads to life.
In cases where the sinner refuses to repent and turn back toward God, further discipline is necessary. The church is instructed to cease from associating with the sinner as the body of Christ. The reasoning behind this is twofold. First, it is “so that [the sinner's] spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5). Secondly, it is to prevent the church from slowly becoming comfortable with sin, which will destroy the family from the inside out.
Donʼt you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough - you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
The people of God living under the New Testament of Jesus Christ are referred to as the church nearly 100 times, which is the most of any other phrase. The second most used phrase for the church is body or the body of Christ, which is used about 40 times in the New Testament.
For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another.
The illustration of the body is easy to understand, which is why God uses it to describe His people so frequently. As individual members of the one body of Jesus, Christians are members of one another. Members do not work alone. Members do not suffer alone. Members do not rejoice alone. Members consider each other in every task of life and discipleship.
Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.
So, how does the family of God sound to you? How would you enjoy being part of a family who cares for each other through benevolence, discipline, and encouragement? It does not take much to find someone looking for a family who could do that for him or her. It takes a lot more effort to find someone who is willing to be active in such a family.
Are you willing to contribute toward the needs of Christians?
The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common.
Are you bold enough to approach someone in error with the truth in love?
But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.
Can you see clearly enough to recognise your value among the many members of the body of Christ?
I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Perhaps, it seems like an impossible task. It is for one working alone. Of course, as has already been established, life in Christ was not designed for the individual, but for the entire body of believers. Not only that, but with discipleship also comes Jesus’ promise, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). With the authority of the Father to guide us, the example of Jesus Christ to lead us, and the love of the Holy Spirit to motivate us, we can say with confidence, “This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b).
And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.