Part 1 offered three reasons we meet:
- Group life fosters my spiritual growth.
- Group life teaches me to accept others.
- Group life brings accountability.
Let’s continue our discussion of how the “one another” verses in Scripture apply to group life.
Group life offers a training ground for service.
A group is a mix of people with many backgrounds and abilities. That represents a learning opportunity for any member hungry to increase his knowledge. Interested in starting a group, teaching children, or leading a prayer team? Find out how other group members are serving and share your desire to absorb what they know. Working together makes the learning fun and lightens the load.
Stimulate each other to good works
Christianity is a serving way of life. We must urge each other forward. A member struggling in ministry needs encouragement. A new believer requires guidance to find her place in the Lord’s work. Her steps of discovery will be easier with a mentor. As group members report how God is working in their ministries we can praise God together.
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
Hebrews 10:24 NASB
Use our gifts to serve
Each believer has at least one spiritual gift given at the moment of salvation. We have natural abilities and resources. Group is a place to discover how God has prepared me and to take my first steps in serving.
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
I Peter 4:10 NASB
Be willing to wash the dirty feet
What a lesson Jesus taught as he knelt to wash twelve dirty pairs of feet. Our concern should not be gaining gold stars or applause. We must recognize the task that needs doing then get it done.
“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:14 NASB
Group life establishes a team pursuing common goals.
Travel back to the story of Nehemiah, a man who undertook a gargantuan task. His goal was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. Amidst well-organized opposition and numerous challenges the team persevered, and the job was completed in fifty-two days!
So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
Nehemiah 4:6 NASB
For a group to be effective, the members must embrace common goals. Is the group’s purpose social life and discussion of current events? Will Bible study and discussion be included? What about prayer? How will we promote fellowship? Can we reach outside the group to minister?
Be of the same mind toward one another…
Romans 12:16 NASB Selected
The state of one-mindedness is a blessing that flows from God.
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
Romans 15:5 NASB
Group life teaches me to love.
Group members can be scattered across a spectrum of personality types.
Some attend once and bond instantly with the other members.
Another member struggles to open his heart to the group.
These are extremes, and most members fall somewhere between the endpoints. A healthy group makes room for people across the spectrum as we trust that God knows who He is adding to the group. We strive for peace and unity as we grow to love one another.
Strive for peace
Group life tosses the ingredients of many lives into a big pot, and the Holy Spirit stirs the mixture. We learn how to give and take, and we adjust for the other person’s quirks. As the group members accept one another peace breaks out.
…Live in peace with one another.
I Thessalonians 5:1 NASB Selected
Learn to love
Jesus gave this command, and there are no loopholes.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 NASB
In case we miss it the first time, the writers of the New Testament peppered the same command in several spots. See John 15:12,17; Romans 13:8; I Thessalonians 4:9; II Thessalonians 1:3; I Peter 1:22; I Peter 4:8; I John 3:11; I John 3:23; I John 4:7, 11, 12; and II John 1:5.
No excuses are acceptable when we refuse to follow the foundation practice of loving one another in our walk with Christ.
Show some affection
Paul tossed a monkey-wrench into the evangelical workings with this suggestion.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
Romans 16:16 NASB
You’re kidding, right?
He repeated himself in I Corinthians 16:20 and II Corinthians 13:12. Peter wrote the same words in I Peter 5:14.
The directive is usually excused with a cursory, “That was a cultural thing.” Instead of skipping over it, pause and think. People ought to be able to tell by our actions, posture, facial expressions, and dealings with one another that we’ve been changed by Jesus.
Group life is about people construction.
As I grow to love my group a desire to help, encourage, and seek what’s best for the other person drives my actions. Isn’t that the picture of what God in is His love has done for us?
To turn my focus from inside to outside I must consider the other person’s value.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Wait for one another
The word wait means look for, tarry for, or expect. I notice who is missing from group and check on them to show my concern. If someone is immersed in a life-struggle, I offer my help, my resources, and I faithfully remember him in prayer.
The group may be ready to forge deeper into a doctrinal investigation but a younger believer is struggling to grasp the teaching. That may be the time to tarry, slow down, and keep the discussion at a basic level. Nothing prevents the deep thinkers from meeting at a later time for a more complex discussion.
So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
I Corinthians 11:33 NASB
Elevate one another
Consider other group members as more important than I am. Group is not the place to push my agenda or strive for personal benefits. As a member I’m thinking about and thankful for the other guy. I see his needs as more critical than my own, and I act accordingly. That mindset sent Jesus to the cross in our place.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
Philippians 2:3 NASB
Build others up
The word build conveys the idea of promoting another’s growth in wisdom and holiness. I perform a quality inspection before speaking or acting. Is this comment going to facilitate wisdom and holiness? What am I learning in my walk with God that applies here? Have I witnessed an example of one tangled in sin? What verse of Scripture is on my heart right now?
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Romans 14:19 NASB
Coming in Part 3:
- Group life provides a safe place for confession.
- Group life teaches me to practice kindness.
- Group life facilitates praise and worship.
- Group life promotes mutual submission.
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