Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Getting to Know You


Brethren – You’ve Got To Love Them!

  • “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).
  • “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
  • “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

This glorious and wonderful doctrine flows throughout the whole of the New Testament:

  • “And in your godliness, brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7).
  • “Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). 
  • “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
  • “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged” (James 5:9). 
  • “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism” (James 2:1).
  • “Let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

What Love Involves...

  • Getting to Know Them

If I am expected to “lay down my life for a brother” (1 John 3:16), go after him or her if they fall (Galatians 6:1-2), and help them with physical necessities (James 2:15-16), rebuke, admonish or encourage them (1 Thessalonians 5:14) the obviously it is likewise essential that I invest the time to know them well. When you think about it, everyone that you presently know was once a stranger to you, so this should be an incentive to reach out and build other friendships as well. There are times when we can tend to associate with the same group of people and this does not necessarily mean that one’s motivation is wrong. It could be that those people are spiritually uplifting to us, very flexible in their schedules, outgoing or fun to be with, or we choose their company simply because of our stage in life (teenagers, parenting young children or newly married) – we may have many things in common.

Practical Helps to Build New Friendships

  • Other Christians also need your encouragement and friendship and you need theirs. New friends bring one into contact with new skills and different areas of knowledge – they broaden our world, and get us out of comfortable ruts. 
  • New friendships also can bring you into contact with uplifting stories of courage and spiritual success as you hear another’s “life story”. 
  • When meeting new people you can do your own unofficial survey. You can ask them questions like, “How did you find the truth?” “What has kept you faithful all these years?” “What made a big difference in your life?” “What did your parents do right?” 
  • Such new friendships also tend to energize existing friendships – because you are excited to tell existing friends about the neat person that you discovered in a new brother or sister in Christ. Continually draw new friends into old circles!

People at times do strike up conversations and friendships at random, yet it often does take some mental planning to build new friendships. Try this:

  • Be accessible. Linger at services. 
  • Be outgoing. Walk around, approach others first, join conversations. Ask around. Is a group of people going anywhere? Sometimes you just need to ask, “What are you guys up to today?” “Do you have any plans?”
  • Be proactive. Call someone during the week and set up lunch plans or other social opportunities.
  • Be willing to open up your home. Not everyone can afford to go out for lunch – or afford to go out that particular week or Sunday.
  • Be flexible and spontaneous: Don’t be so regimented in your schedule that you isolate yourself. If not this afternoon, how about tonight? Or sometime during the week? If you don’t like a certain restaurant, what are your “counter offers”?

  • Assume the best about others...

“Love... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). In any family, there are always occasions that can cause us to feel neglected or slighted:

  • Instead of “I had that couple or family over – why haven’t they had us over?”, realize there may be explanatory circumstances of which you may be unaware. Instead of focusing on “paybacks”: “I’ve have been a member here for how long, and I have not ever been invited to that brother’s home” focus on who you’d like to have over next! Try to enjoy people without keeping score.
  • Instead of “I’ve been attending here for... and yet that person over there has not talked to me yet”, make it a point to seek out new faces yourself!

While we do need to continually work on being hospitable (Hebrews 13:1), it could be that there are legitimate reasons for what one might perceive as a slight or failure. I try to get people the benefit of the doubt and find out a little more about their situation. At times I find that my brethren are very busy in other areas in the kingdom. Other times they are completely unaware that we have not connected, because they are connecting with so many other people. I might even find out that they are hosting all sorts of things, like group meetings, teenage classes, parenting classes, marriage classes, or men’s classes, and since I was invited to those or actually came that such counts as having me over – which sounds pretty logical to me. Let’s be grateful for one another’s work even when it varies from our own.

  • Do not assume that they don’t need encouragement...

When we do make a list of people to have over, it is easily to concentrate on those that we think might benefit the most, and neglect members, like the elders or deacons whom we believe are probably doing just fine. Yet, elders, deacons and hard working members really benefit from hospitality, just like everyone else.

  • “We request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). “And that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (5:13).

What if I feel left out...

  • What message have I been sending?

One of the first things I do when I feel being left out is first look at myself (2 Corinthians 13:5). What sort of signals have I been sending recently? Do I present myself as someone who is “game” for the next social thing? Have I been accepting a lot of invitations or passing on them? Do I enjoy annual or other events such as camping, holiday parties, dinner clubs, baby or wedding showers, moving days, retreats, basketball, etc.

  • Do not be embarrassed

There are times when we must pass up on things simply because money is tight. I am impressed by members who show up at a restaurant and simply have a cup of coffee – just so they can be with their brethren. I should not be embarrassed if my money supply is limited but neither should I want others feel uncomfortable if they are going out to eat. When I invite people out – I like to let them know that it’s no big deal if the money is not there – they are always welcome to come and hang out.

  • Be appreciative

There are lots of things I like to do – (and eat), but I do have my limits. Yet when people invite me to a place that I really don’t like, I do think it’s important to let them know that it’s simply the place, not the people. It’s all right (and its appreciated) when you say, “Thank you so much for thinking of us, but I really don’t like that activity, food, etc...”, but I would love to do something else with you guys sometime”.

  • Invest in Relationships

People and relationships are very important – far more important than things. We all need to make financial choices and I simply have made a rule of thumb that being with my brethren is a high priority. Therefore, I will cut back in other areas so that I can frequently spend time with and spend money so I can be with them. I have simply felt over the years that the money I spend on a meal or activity while being with my brethren is one of the most important investments that I can make. In the recent financial crisis, the investment that did not lose any value were my relationships with other Christians.