Today is a big pill to swallow.
I want to be straightforward with you.
There’s a membership fee.
Are you willing to pay that upfront?
Better yet, are you willing to pay not knowing if you’ll receive anything in return?
“What are you saying here, Melissa? Since when are there membership fees for community?”
Let me explain.
In order to have successful, God-honoring, edifying community, it will cost you three things:
I want to delve into one of my favorite passages of scripture with you.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate what is evil. Cleave to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; prefer one another in honor, 11 do not be lazy in diligence, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, 12 rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, 13 contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are.
Lots of highlighting here, but I love how Paul plainly puts this.
Let’s start with devotion. Devotion is a strong word.
Synonyms are listed as followed: fidelity, loyalty, affection, passion, dedication
That is just to name a few.
As I dive deeper into the meaning of devotion alone, I find myself more and more convicted. Have I given enough of myself? Am I dedicated to my community? Dedicated to fervent prayer, dedicated to growth, accountability. Am I faithful, loyal?
Let’s keep going.
“Prefer one another in honor,” other versions say, “outdo one another in showing honor.”
This reminds me of Philippians 2:3 3 Let nothing be done out of strife or conceit, but in humility let each esteem the other better than himself.
There goes my pride, and in case you weren’t humbled enough, let’s not forget this part of Romans 12, I so conveniently highlighted:
Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are.
Here’s how they translate it in the Holman Christian Standard version:
“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
Lord, rid us of our pride.
Paul also tells us to contribute to the needs of the saints and to practice hospitality.
Time and resources in one fell swoop.
Relationships cannot flourish by happenstance. They requires genuine and costly investment.
“Melissa, it’s almost like you’re discouraging us from seeking community!”
I know for some, this was a tough read, and where’s that happy ending?
It all seems unattainable!
I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow how God has used costly community to benefit my own community.
For now, live with these passages we’ve walked through today. Pray through them.
Take some time to examine yourself.
Are there any changes you need to make?
Was this as convicting to you as it was to me?
Are you willing to kill your pride and invest your time and resources into your community?
If we aren’t willing to invest in our community first, how will we invest in the lives of those who don’t yet know Jesus?
What a beautiful and timely reminder! Help us today to be selfless. Help us to live out these principles you inspired and exemplify for us. Help us to put on love, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We cannot do any of this apart from you. It is overwhelming and weighty, but if we will depend on You and yield to Your spirit, You promise to help us! Thank You for that comfort, and truth. We love you, Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.