Our Saviour said By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35). We show that we are true followers of our LORD by loving others who are also true followers of our LORD. Let us look at the example of Paul and consider how the true nature of his desire to follow the LORD was shown in his love for the Galatians.
Galatians 4:19 reads My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.
Paul Had Deep Affection For These Christians. He addresses them as “My dear Children”. Even though they had disappointed him by getting taken in by false teaching he still cared for them deeply. What about us? Do we have similar affection and care? Or do we write people off if they do not match up to our standards? Remember as Christians we all have “W-I-P” on our T-shirts! We are all in the “Work-in-Progress” category. We should all be helping each other to make progress in Christ.
Paul Had Godly Goals For These Fellow Christians. Paul longed that their characters might be transformed to be like Christ. Is that our desire for one another? It should be. Of course, we thereby need to know who Christ is and what it is to have His character. He was full of grace and truth. That should be the same for us. At Feltham Evangelical Church are we continually longing that our fellow brother and sisters in Christ are having their characters transformed? We should be crying out to the LORD that He might be bringing Christ-likeness into each other’s lives. What we truly pray about for someone reveals what we truly want for someone. Then we can think about what we are actively doing to bring this about. We should think how we can teach the scriptures, encourage, exhort, rebuke, counsel and support each other.
Paul’s Love Meant He Would Put In A Lot Of Effort To Help Them. Paul uses a strong image to convey his effort on their behalf. The image is that of childbirth. In childbirth there is:-
Pain. Are we prepared to endure rejection, being misunderstood etc so that others might be benefited? Paul would later say to Timothy: I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Tim. 2:10). That all things included a vast array of suffering. But he had a passion that others would know Christ and he was happy to suffer pain to achieve this. Remember for a child to be born there must be pain and for us to be labourers in bringing forth the formation of Christ in people’s lives means that suffering pain is very likely.
Energy. So much energy is involved in giving birth to a baby. Do we expend our energies for the formation of Christ in each other. Giving birth is no casual pastime. It consumes a woman’s whole attention. So much energy is expended. No doubt we must be wise in the use of our time and energy. However, we must also be aware that to help people grow in Christ we need to give of our ourselves. Teaching, praying and dealing with people all take energy
Personal Involvement. Childbirth is not a spectator sport. Will we get involved in each others lives to help each other? We live in a very individualistic society. The unwritten rule is: “you don’t interfere in my life then I won’t interfere in your life and we will get on fine”. But Christianity is not like that. Christianity is a together religion. We need to be willing to get involved. All babies are born out of a another person. We need to be personally involved in each others lives that we might see Christ “born” in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not about being busybodies, but showing a loving interest in each others lives. The starting of “Together” on the first Sunday evening of the month is a further means to promote this.
Seeing It Through. The phrase “I’ve started so I’ll finish” from the Mastermind TV programme is very appropriate here. Once labour has started there is no getting out. The mother cannot just walk away and say I no longer want to be involved. Rather the matter must be seen through to the end; there is no option. When we are seeking to help others grow in Christ there will be times when we want to walk away; times when we want to give-up. However, our being committed to one another means that we will seek to keep with things to the end..
Anticipation. When a woman is in labour she is looking forward to one thing. She longingly anticipates the birth of the baby when all the pain will be over. We anticipate fruit from our labour when we seek to minister into each others lives. This will keep us going through the pain and hardship of discipling one another. The baby we look forward to being born is that of Christ being formed in the character of a fellow brother and sister.
And so we look forward to Christ being formed in each others lives. And behind all of this is love. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of October 2010)