Friday in the bible study I currently attend, someone mentioned “judging others”. And the pastor replied with what I too believe to be true. He said as believers, we are called to hold each other accountable. I see it as not “judging” but instead “iron sharpening iron”.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)Yet, I understand if not done correctly or if one side or the other is prideful about it, the whole thing can (and will) get very ugly. Although, if done as the bible decrees, WITH GRACE (on both ends) and without hypocrisy, then your “brother will be gained” (Matthew 18:15). I love it when I receive lifelong “brothers” (and “sisters”) even distance cannot keep us apart.
I have grown by leaps and bounds twice in my walk with Christ. (Notice I did not say “walking in the flesh”!) Both times included a wonderful group of people. The first was my youth group at First United Methodist Church, FL. They were AMAZING! And my former youth pastor --- yes, I am still in contact with him all these (darn near 20 years) later --- has told me that group was like a perfect storm. He has since not seen any that come close to what we had. I feel it was greatly the “iron sharpening iron” quality to the crew. The support system was beyond words! We fellowshipped together, laughed together, cried together (Romans 12:15), sometimes got in trouble together. We had scavenger hunts, beach trips, sang songs (the lyrics to which I will NEVER forget because the feeling was SO intense as we worshipped as a team), played goofy games, and listened to the college kids (who returned as “counselors”) share their adventures beyond high school with us. (Former FUMC youth, I love you all!)
The second time was with the ladies’ bible study I mentioned above (and while reading and listening to John Piper).
I covet those deep relationships. Not shallow, simplistic ones that barely scratch the surface. Sure, at times it is messy crawling through the trenches with people, but THAT is where I want to be! I’m not looking for a “fair-weather friend”. Nor am I interested in being one to somebody else. Further, I am looking forward to the next time God grows me in a major way!
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 ESV)