Love Starts With The Family of Faith and Expands!

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 13:1 NIV)

Loving those who are in the family of faith should be as simple as this--just love as a brother or sister in Christ!

If loving those in the family of faith is simple–why do we have all the chaos and confusion in the Body of Christ–those who profess to be true Believers regarding the validity of God’s Word for “all time?” Is it because the family of faith harbors those who undermine God’s true authority in our lives? Is it because there are those in the family of faith who care more about mesmerizing people than promoting God’s Word in its simplistic truth?

When we love God, we want to obey and please Him. When we receive His love we have the capability to love all in the family of faith and those who are not, but especially those who share like-minded faith in Jesus Christ. When we truly love one another, we would not seek to cause confusion about anything and certainly not about God’s Word.

Loving others means we look for ways to serve them to make sure they have what they need and it also means that we correct–in love–those who are going astray. Loving others means we sometimes sacrifice self (not on a cross–Jesus did that), but we put aside doing some things for self in order to do for others. This is love–that we focus on others in outward expression and do what we can for them.

Now–do we really know how to love others if we do not love ourselves? If we do not care for self–physically, emotionally, and financially–we cannot love others. Love begins with loving self, loving God and receiving His love so we can love others. However, many people think that loving self first–is a selfish love. If we don’t love self, we cannot give to someone else what we don’t have. Loving self means taking care of self so that no harm comes to self; self has the means to assist others and that can’t happen if a person is financially depleted or emotionally depleted.

When we love God–He keeps filling us over and over again–so we have love overflowing onto others and when that love overflows onto others, they have an abundance of love to share and the cycle continues and expands as the love overflows. Our love of God grows when we understand His love for us and the abundant life He desires us to love. The more we love Him, the more love He pours into us and we begin to see others as He sees them and love even more.

How does God see us? He sees us as the creation He established from the beginning and when He was finished, He said, “It is good.” We are His uniquely, wonderful, creation and He loved us before we were ever formed. He knew us and planned our lives for us before we ever knew He loved us. Some discover early in life and some discover late in late in life, just how much He loves us. It doesn’t matter when we make the discovery, as long as we make it and demonstrate it by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ–the family of faith–and loving all others.

Let’s do it! Let’s show the world how love is really done and let’s start with our natural families, move on to our spiritual families, and then onto the secular family–who may not even know us, but we can love them anyway.

Increased Family

When the Lord tells us through Paul to “come out from among them and don’t touch the unclean thing,” what does He mean?

There have been some who claim that this means we’re not to associate with unbelievers.  That can’t be true since Jesus was constantly in the presence of those who were not of the same faith.  If we remove ourselves from those who do not believe as we believe, how then shall they be convinced to believe?

After considerable reflection upon those words from Paul to the church at Corinth, I am convinced that we are not to remove ourselves from those who have been caught up in sin or those who do not yet believe in our Risen Savior.  Paul is telling us that when some “fall back into sin” that we should not uphold them in their wrongdoing and do as they do.  We should live a life that shines so brightly that our lifestyles (not our tongues) will convict others and convince them to live a life that is totally pleasing to God. When we do this, then all will be received and “the family” increases and we obtain more brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I do not have a large “biological family” but I see increase, almost daily, in family growth.  I have met a number of “brothers and sisters from another mother” but we are united by the same Father in heaven.  Glory to God!  Increase!  Increase!  Getting to know my new brothers and sisters!  Hallelujah for increased family!

First Sibling Rivalry

After being forced to leave the garden, Adam and Eve had to find a place to begin, anew. They knew that life was not going to be as easy as it had been because they had been disobedient, but they had no idea what was really in store for them. Everything they had taken for granted—the beauty of the trees, the coolness of the water, the abundance of herbs and fruits and vegetables—was now understood to be a necessity and they had to learn to use what they had proficiently.

They scouted out the land and chose a spot near a well of water.  They claimed it for themselves before anyone else could come along and use it, exclusively.  Adam and his other children managed to hew trees and find huge stones they could use to build houses to protect them from others who now, appeared to be a bit suspicious.  It didn’t matter that they were all related.  That change in the atmosphere (penalties for disobedience) was now leading every man down a different path and it was not always a path of cooperation.

Adam discovered that tilling the earth was not easy; especially since he had to create some tools to use to make it easier.  He shaped pieces of rock by rubbing them together until he had a sharper edge on one side and then he tied that piece of rock to a piece of sturdy broken branch.  He had to bend over and push the tool along the earth to turn the soil in order to get the soil ready for the seeds he had ready to plant.  This was hard work and he really didn’t get very far each day.  But every day, he rose with the sun and when the sun went down, he went to sleep, tired and his eyes burned from the sweat that poured down his face.

Eve’s life was not any easier.  They still enjoyed following the mandate to be fruitful, but now, having a baby was miserable work.  Just as God had promised, she brought forth her children in the midst of agonizing pain and there was nothing anyone could do.  They had a number of children after being evicted from the garden and most of them learned to help her and Adam; the girls in the house and the boys in the field either tending the animals that had been domesticated or in planting the fields. When Cain was born, there was an air of expectancy—something about him was different and his parents knew—they would never forget about him. Cain was competitive and had an angry, dominating spirit that often got him into trouble with his parents. A hot-head who didn’t want to listen to anyone because he always thought he was right. Then, Abel was born and once again, there was air of expectancy about this birth as well. Abel was compliant and totally obedient.  He listened wisely to everything his parents said and learned that pleasing them always brought with it a reward.  He loved getting rewarded for doing the right thing. The children grew and were trained to help sustain the family.  Cain was trained to be a tiller of the soil, while Abel was trained to keep the sheep.  For a long time, they were satisfied with their roles in life and with their family, until they decided to bring offerings unto the Lord.

During those years, Adam and Eve had taught their children to respect and worship God, the Creator of all Things and without Whom, nothing would have ever been created.  They had also taught them to bring an offering unto God.  Apparently, their parents had established a scheduled time for which these offerings should be made and when it was time to make that offering, Cain brought unto God an offering from the ground he tilled and Abel brought unto God an offering of the sheep he tended. He remembered the story his parents had told them and the sacrifice that God had made of the animals to clothe his parents.

God was pleased with Abel’s offering and not so pleased with Cain’s.  He took Cain aside and tried to explain a few facts to Cain, but Cain was angry and would not hear what God said.  The only thing he cared about was Abel winning God’s favor.  He had totally forgotten about the story about how his parents had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden and didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that God was not happy with his offering—an offering from the land He had cursed. He found an opportunity to confront Abel and that’s when things went awry.

When Cain got to the field where he knew he would find Abel, resting against a tree.

“Abel,” Cain asked, “You got a minute?”

“Sure, Cain. Anything for you brother,” Abel responded lazily, twisting a piece of straw in his hand.

“Why is it that God always likes your offerings and never cares about mine?”

“I don’t know.  Did you ask Him?”

“He tried telling me something that didn’t make any sense so I stopped listening.”

Abel looked at Cain, wondering why they were having this conversation.  “Cain, if you didn’t want to hear what God had to say, what makes you think I can explain things any differently?  Why would you listen to me?”

“I thought you might know something other than sitting around on your butt all day being a smart…!”

“Whoa!  There’s no need for that kind of language.  I only do what Mom and Dad said we should do.  I actually listen to them.”

“So, what are you trying to say, I don’t?  Cain was heated by now and not by the sun.

“What I’m saying is that we both heard the story about how they got kicked out of the garden and how God cursed the ground as a punishment for Dad.  The way I see it is, if God cursed the ground, why would He want anything from it?

“So, now you’re saying I’m stupid?  Cain had moved closer to Abel by now and Abel had to stand up to try to get out of the way.

“I didn’t say you were stupid.  I said that I listened.  Now, if you get my calling you stupid from that, that’s on you,” Abel smiled teasingly.