Encouraging and Serving without Depending
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Sometimes the best teaching is to simply remind someone of what they’ve already learned. The church that Paul writes to here already knows how to love one another. Paul just gives them a little nudge by honoring them for what they are doing.
In a world of critics, cynics, and skeptics, it’s good of us to commend and honor each other for what we are doing right!
Some marriage training course I went to said a negative word carries ten times the impact of positive encouragement, so we need to encourage each other ten times to equal one negative word. Those numbers don’t line up with me personally. I’m more like Mark Twain who said
I can live for two months on a good compliment. — Mark Twain
This is the easiest way for us to love one another with brotherly love.
The next way for us to love one another deeply is to mind our own business. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about each other and speak into each other’s lives. It means that we only get into each other’s affairs as it serves one another.
Gossip is juicy and makes us feel good to have that secret or that opinion that others don’t have. It is a way of us serving ourselves. Minding our own business is a way of serving others and giving them the benefit of the doubt. With sincerity and love, we can be involved deeply in one another’s lives, but it brings about growth, maturity, healing, and blessings.
Finally, this bit about being dependent on no one. There is a way that we draw our identity and our purpose in life from Christ alone. When we walk in that lifestyle, we aren’t depending on the world for our encouragement, strength, or confidence. When we depend on the world for our confidence, it shows. We can become bitter when we don’t get what we want. We can hate or curse our brothers and sisters in Christ if they don’t follow our plan or preferences.
To be dependent on no one means that we are humble and serve one another but depend on God for every single thing. We won’t achieve this by starting with independence and then working towards Christ. We achieve this by drawing our entire life under Christ’s life. As we follow Him and bring our lives in line with His, we’ll see how little we have to depend on the people whom we serve.