On Sunday, as on many other Sundays, our hearts were encouraged to love and serve one another as those who belong to the same family of faith (1 Peter 4:7-11). Depending on how long we’ve been walking with the Lord, many of us have been hearing this message over and over again for many years. We know the verses, too:
Luke 10:27: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
John 13:34-45: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Romans 12:10: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Galatians 5:13: Serve one another humbly in love.
Ephesians 4:2: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 6:7: Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.
Hebrews 10:24: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
1 John 3:11: For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1 John 4:7: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
You might be wondering: Why does the Lord repeat this command to us so often throughout his Word? One of the things we learn in Bible interpretation classes is that repetition highlights importance. So, here’s one thing we could say with certainty: God considers it very important that we love and serve each other.
At times, we struggle with this, especially as we interact with individuals our personalities clash with. Or also when we walk through trials, because the heat of trials can bring out less-than-loving attitudes and responses from within our hearts. Which explains why Peter tells suffering Christians to “love each other deeply” and to “use whatever gift you have received to serve others” (1 Peter 4:8, 10).
And because we might struggle with this, he also gives us one great reason to love and serve each other. He tells us: “The end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7). In context, he’s talking about the near return of Christ, who “is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5). And just like that, with one line, Peter reassures the hearts of his readers with one great gospel-truth. Jesus is returning soon! His nearness means the end of our suffering in this world is at hand. All our tears will be bottled up, evil will be judged, all wrongs will be made right, and we will finally be home, dwelling with our beloved Savior forever.
May your heart leap with joy at the thought of the nearness of Jesus. May it also be encouraged to love and serve your fellow brothers and sisters-in-Christ. If the end of all things is near, and if Jesus is returning soon, it means Jesus first came to serve us and to display his great love for us on the cross. May we use the time we have remaining on this earth to display that same kind of love and service toward one another, and toward our unbelieving neighbors, as well. After all, the command to love isn’t limited to fellow members of the family of faith; we are meant to love all our neighbors, whether they follow Jesus or not.
Hopefully this motivates us to ask ourselves, “If Jesus’ return is at hand—if the end of all things is near—in what ways could I love and serve others today?” Truth be told, if we knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, we would probably make every effort to live for him and for his glory today. So, ask yourself, “How could I live for Jesus and love others while I wait for him to take me home?” Make this question your prayer this week and see how God might lead your heart. And allow me to suggest: There are several avenues for loving service through our church. For starters, just look at the list below:
Arriving early on Sundays to serve as a warm greeter.
Helping to maintain our lawns and our facilities during the week.
Serving with our Awana Clubs or our Youth Group on Tuesday nights.
Helping in our Children’s Ministry one Sunday each month.
Using your musical abilities to help lead us in worship.
Helping with our audio/video equipment during worship services.
Serving as a Life Group host/facilitator as we get ready to launch our Small Group Ministry in the New Year.
God considers the task of loving and serving each other to be especially important. He even modeled ultimate love and service to us through his Son. How might God be leading you to faithfully love and serve others as you anticipate Jesus’ near return? And what would our church look like if we all committed to serving each other with Christlike love? Can you imagine the impact? Can you envision the effect on the hearts of all who interact with us? Oh, may we devotedly labor to love and serve each other and our neighbors as we wait for Jesus to take us home. I can assure you it will be worth it!
With love for you in Christ,