One Heart & Soul
By Pastor J.D. Link
Act 4:32-33 “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” Unity is important in the Body of Christ. The first church was united, heart and soul. On non-essentials we can disagree, without being disagreeable. In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things charity.
When we are born again through heart faith and mouth confession in Jesus Christ (Rom 10:9-10), the Holy Spirit indwells us, and pours out God’s love abundantly in our hearts (Rom 5:5). This is not something we must conjure up, but is the real result of conversion. God teaches us to love one another, but we must “stoke the fire”, that we may increase in God’s love more and more (1Thess 4:9-10). We stoke the fire by daily meditating in God’s Word; praying to Him; worshipping Him; and practicing His Word in our lives. We are to let brotherly love continue (Heb 13:1).
Abraham is a good example of this in action. Though he was the one called by God, yet for the sake of peace, he gave Lot the choice of where to graze his sheep, that there would be no strife between them, for they were brethren (Gen 13:7-8). Being at peace and in unity was more important to him than being right. Blessed are the peacemakers (Mt 5:9), and God blessed Abraham because of this (Gen 13:14-15).
This is hard on the flesh, from which fighting and wars come naturally (Jam 4:1). The flesh just wants to be right, but we must understand this is not spiritual. Envy, strife, debates, backbiting, whispering are tumults are earthly, sensual and devilish; whereas heavenly wisdom (being Spirit-led) is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be addressed, full of mercy, etc. (Jam 3:14-18, 2Cor 12:20). This doesn’t mean we are to compromise the truth, but rather that we are to sow righteousness in peace. Speak the truth and speak it boldly, but from a heart of love and peace, and not of contention.
The more we desire God’s Word in sincerity, the better able we’ll be to lay aside strife and envy and walk in love (1Pt 2:1-2, 1:22). As we love each other as brethren, the world will be able to see the unseen God (1Jn 4:11-12). Jesus said the love the brethren have for each other would be the sign to the world that we are His disciples (Jn 13:35), and that when we are one as the Father and Son are one, the world would believe in Christ (Jn 17:20-21).
As spouses; as friends; as church members; as Christians – we must remind ourselves that we are not enemies. We must come together in unity around the apostle’s doctrine. As long as God’s Word is our authority and meeting ground, then differing views on non-essential doctrines should not be bones of contention. We can disagree, and not be hateful, nor easily offended. Again, love for each other is the chief evidence that we are Jesus’ disciples. Is this how the world knows us? And thereby, comes to know Jesus? I’m afraid we often fail miserably in this all-important area – and I am not guiltless.
May we imitate the barber who one week noticed that there was a good increase in his business. When he tried to find out why, he discovered that his competitor, another barber in the village, was ill. When the week ended, he took all that he had made above his average earnings and carried it to his competitor with his Christian love and sympathy. This kind of love opens the door to speak the truth of the Gospel. Love is not a substitute for preaching the truth; but rather it is door that opens that opportunity.
May we be kind and affectionate one to another, and prefer others before ourselves (Rom 12:10). May we be humble and patient with one another, and endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace (Eph 4:2-3). Love covers a multitude of sins (Prv 10:12, 1Pt 4:8). Jesus proved that on the cross of Calvary. There is no greater love that one could have, then to take another’s sin upon themselves. Of course, we can’t do this in the same way Jesus did; but we can in the sense that we can be merciful; quick to forgive; slow to anger and slow to get offended; and think of another above ourselves.
The Apostle Peter said, “Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1Pt 3:8-9).
During World War II, an enemy submarine approached a fleet of ships in the North Atlantic. The captain of one vessel spotted the white mark of a torpedo coming directly at his ship. His transport was loaded with literally hundreds and hundreds of young soldiers on the way to the European front. He realized they would not have time to maneuver to avoid the torpedo. He grabbed the loudspeaker and cried out, “Boys, this is it!” Nearby, though, a little escorting destroyer also observed the torpedo. The captain ordered, “Full speed ahead.” His ship steamed into the path of the torpedo. The destroyer was blown up; it sank very quickly. Every man on it was lost. The captain of the troop transport ship sadly commented, “The skipper of that destroyer was my best friend.” Now one verse in the Bible has an even deeper meaning for that captain: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend (Jn 15:13)”
Jesus steamed in front of the torpedo of eternal damnation that was racing straight for us. Now we may say of Him, “He is my best Friend” (Jn 15:13-15). Following our Master’s example, may we also “take the hit” for others, knowing we will inherit a blessing. Don’t get offended; don’t hold a grudge; refuse envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, strife. Be at peace, and love others more than yourself. Selah.