Loving And Being Loved

Steve Arterburn

Spiritual growth is a fragile process.  Without vigilance and encouragement from others, you live with the prospect of slipping back into sin.  In the face of this, you need help from others who have courage and sensitivity toward your situation.  Harsh condemnation will not help you, but neither will friends who flatter you with falsely positive words.  Working with faithful support is what you need.

Consider John’s short letter in the book second John.  In this letter, John balances condemnation and encouragement, proving himself to be a wise counselor and a great example to us.  Recognize the past successes of others and affirm your brothers and sisters in Christ.  At the same time, be willing to point out hazards ahead when you see them.  Share your hard-won wisdom with warnings when necessary.  Pointing out the obstacles ahead and encouraging others to be careful is the loving thing to do.  

Loving one another is the most basic act of obedience to God.  It’s also an essential element in your spiritual growth.  At times, you may tend to focus inward and become self-centered.  We live in a dog-eat-dog, every man for himself world.  But that’s not Christianity.  Remembering to be loving toward others will not only please God, but it will also help you to think of others and build good relationships.