Hebrews 10 23 Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, 25 not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Dear fellow Christians, the past 12 months have not been a joy filled time for the world. My hope with this post is to help strengthen and encourage you both in your faith and in your love, for helping bring Christ’s love and peace to a world that is desperately in need of both. We need to encourage each other as well, because there is nothing that Satan would love more than to keep Christians as divided (or even more) than the Republican party is right now.
I have seen and heard many Christians struggle with “what should I be doing given the circumstances in the world right now?” I offer encouragement that God’s desires for us in this has not changed, and that scriptures remain the same for our yesterdays, our today, and our tomorrows.
Matthew 22 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”
— Encouragement 1: Our goal as Christians is to show love in order to further God’s heavenly kingdom; not an earthly kingdom.
Matthew 6 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. […] 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. […] 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
— Encouragement 2: Let us look for Christian believers to imitate and follow who are clearly showing the Fruits of the Spirit. Do not imitate anyone who fails to show the fruits of the spirit.
Romans 8 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God.
Galatians 5 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The Bible clearly commands us to look for evidence of a life following Christ by using the above checklist. The “works of the flesh” checklist is also clear as to what to stay away from.
— Encouragement 3: Let us look out and stay away from of anyone who want to continually quarrel, be full of controversy, slander, or using Christianity as a way to become rich or powerful.
1 Timothy 6 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
— Encouragement 4: Do not judge other Christians for their differing, but God-honoring opinions on mask wearing or COVID-19 safety protocols.
If you’re like me, your first thought is “there’s no verse in the Bible that talks about mask wearing,” and you are correct. This means it’s not a sin to wear a mask, and it’s not a sin again God to not wear a mask. The principal of why one would choose either choice is what should be examined, but in love.
Romans 14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. […] 6 The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. […] 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
Now go back up and replace the idea of “eating” with “mask wearing”.
Now do it again with “staying 6 feet apart” from others.
Verse 6 points out that when there are issues that scripture does not explicitly address, Christians may act differently and not sin. As long as the decisions are being made in honor to the Lord, we should not judge their choice. However, we must be careful not to allow this freedom to grieve our brothers (verse 15), as that is not acting in love. It is more important to honor the conscience of a fellow brother than to act in your freedom in a way that hinders another Christian’s faith or is a stumbling block for them.
Christians need to pray for and encourage each other. We need to pray and encourage non-Christians, and the world around us. Christ has blessed us with his wonderful, free, gift. Why should we want to do anything other than share this joyful gift with the world?
Philippians 2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.