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Summary: A message on how we should treat other christians.

Behold How They Love One Another

I Peter 4:7-11

When we realize the true character of some unsaved people, or the values they have, or the way they treat other people, why do we as Christians put up with them? Well...

We treat them nice because we want them to like us.

We treat them nice because we want to have fun with them--or we want to have a peaceful holiday celebration.

We treat them nice because we have to work with them or live next door to them or go to school with them.

We treat them nice because we want to give a good impression for witnessing.

And yet like the Apostle Paul says, "we bite and devour other believers" (Galatians 5:15). We treat Christians like dirt--ignore them, talk about them, fight with them. We’ve got it backwards. We need to treat believers better than we treat unbelievers. People are staying away from church and they are ignoring the gospel because of the lousy way Christians treat each other and because of the lousy way church people treat each other.

How are we supposed to treat each other?

Galatians 6:10 says, "so then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who are of the household of faith."

How are we supposed to treat each other?

Philippians 2:3 says, "with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves."

How are we supposed to treat each other?

Romans 12:9-13 says, "be devoted to one another in love, give preference to one another in honor, not lagging in diligence..."

How are we supposed to treat one another?

Christ said, "A new commandment I give to you..." His tone had changed. The disciples probably thought, "Here it comes. Here comes the hard part, the complicated part...beyond everything that Moses commanded and all the laws we already have to remember, here comes Christ with more to do." But Christ simply said, "Love each other." That’s it. That’s the new commandment. Love each other. As Peter repeats it for us now in I Peter 4, he says, "Love each other; share with and care for each other; serve each other."

But, as Peter talks about this new commandment, he points out something very important: we are told to go the extra mile; we are supposed to go above and beyond the ordinary. As Emeril Lugassi on the Food Channel would say, "Kick it up a notch!"

Take your love to a HIGHER level.

Stretch your hospitality BEYOND what you usually do.

Serve each other BETTER than you treat yourself.

How does the passage state this higher level of fellowship and caring between believers?

1. Love is to be fervent

Fervent = to stretch or strain (a Middle Ages use of this word was a description of a body on the torture rack!) A better translation of it would be full strength or maximum effort. Holding nothing back. Giving it everything you’ve got.

Let your love be without reservation. Let your love be without hesitation. Let your love be without qualification. (I’m sounding like Jesse Jackson!)

2. Love is to be forgiving

"COVERS" does not mean "forgives". Only God has the ability to forgive sins.

Covers means "Does not stir up or broadcast sins."

I Corinthians 13:5-7 Love suffers long and bears all things. "Love thinketh no evil" means love gives people the benefit of the doubt. Love doesn’t expect people to fail, but understands that they might fail anyway.

From what I understand, you will never find an imperfect piece of Waterford Crystal (the real fancy stuff from Ireland). While others may sell imperfect pieces or seconds at bargain prices, there are no seconds in Waterford crystal. Any time an inspector finds even the slightest imperfection, the piece is crushed, melted and made over entirely. The church, however, is made up completely of seconds. The church is filled with imperfect people who have all been forgiven by the grace of God.

Proverbs 10:12 "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions."

Love refuses to stir up strife. Instead of reminding people of their sins and using those sins against them, love understands that we are all sinners and we all need a little bit of grace and for others to cut us some slack.

3. Hospitality is to be without complaining

Matthew 25:35,38,40 "to the extent you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." If Christ were to come in here today and ask us to give him a pair of shoes or a winter coat, we’d have a stampede of people trying to give stuff to Christ. If Christ was to say, "Anyone here willing to come down out of your Zacchaeus tree and let me come to your house for dinner today?" we’d have people complaining that they didn’t get a chance to do it first.

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