“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 NIV)
Friend to Friend
I ran into Shelly at the grocery store. She had just returned from a visit with her prospective daughter-in-law. Her son was getting married in a few months, and the weekend was intended to help the two families become better acquainted.
“I will tell you one thing,” Shelly began, “she might be a Christian, but there is one chapter in the Bible that girl has not read…Proverbs 31. She doesn’t know the first thing about how to be a wife. And I know where she got it from. Her mother. She made all the decisions. It was her show. All weekend it was evident that the women in this family were in charge.”
Shelly continued pointing out the shortcomings of the bride as I grew more uncomfortable by the minute. My heart went out to her…not to the mother-in-law, but to the bride. The current culture calls that “talking smack.” I was so glad her son wasn’t there to hear his momma “talking smack” about his bride. This young gal had no idea she had been closely scrutinized and come up lacking. It made me a little sick to my stomach.
Then I wondered how God’s Son, Jesus, feels when we talk badly about His bride. When we scrutinize and criticize fellow believers who are just as flawed as we are. When we evaluate and berate brothers and sisters in Christ as if we’re the ones sitting on the judgment seat. Yes, the church has received gut punches from the world around us, but most of the criticism comes from within the family itself.
Jesus knew the propensity of His followers to criticize each other. He also knew the destructive potential of our negative words to turn those on the outside looking in away from the faith. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35), emphasis added).
Did you catch that? “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” If we use our words against each other rather than for each other, the world will say, “Why would I want to be a part of that?”
Others in the Bible instructed us not to speak ill of the bride. At least 55 times, the words one another appear in the Bible. Here are just a few:
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10).
Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16).
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7).
Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13).
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
Did you notice how many of these “one anothers” involved words? God has called us to live in community and to use our words to build unity.
So before we say something negative about Jesus’ Bride, before we “talk smack” let’s think back. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
God, help me to keep my mouth shut when I want to complain about or have disdain for your Bride. I want the world to know me because of my love for you and the Body of Christ. May my words be an encouragement to all who hear.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
One man named Joseph was such an encourager, the apostles changed his name. Read Acts 4:36. To what did they change his name?
His new name meant “son of encouragement.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we became so encouraging among fellow believers that our names were changed to Daughters of Encouragement?
What does Hebrews 3:13 tell us about encouraging the Body of Christ?
More from the Girlfriends
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Sharon’s re-released and updated version of her best-selling book and Bible study guide, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others are hot off the press. It includes new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Perfect for your women’s ministry’s next Bible study!
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold into the power of the Holy Spirit