“How do I struggle with this?”
Ever benefit from a hard conversation? Think about a time someone rebuked you and you benefited from it.
“How do we all struggle with this?”
Too many people lack self awareness or lack the caring people around them to help them
become more self aware.
Remember when American Idol came out? It was super popular – especially in the first
few weeks when people who should not have been singing were on national television
Seriously though, lacking self-awareness is detrimental. Blind spots can trip you up and
trip up others around you.
You’ll only ever live to your greatest potential to the level you are willing to be in
“What does God say about this?”
During this series, we are looking at some of the “one another” verses in the Bible.
What will make this the best summer ever won’t be the destinations we go or the pictures
we take, but rather the people we do life with- those we impact and those that impact us.
We are doing this series as we move towards The Church Has Left the Building on July
2nd. This is our opportunity to engage in the lives of neighbors or friends who are
disconnected from God or church so we can be an encouragement and light in their lives.
“One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-
LAY-loan). It’s used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give
instructions to the church, and 60% of those instructions come from Paul. Kissy-kissy? Yes! Four of the “one another” commands are about kissing. But with all due apologies to David Crowder and John Mark McMillan, these kisses are neither “sloppy, wet” nor “unforeseen.”
● Love. One third of them instruct Christians to love one another. We talked about
this last week.
● Humility. About 15% stress an attitude of humility and deference among
● Unity. One third of the one-another commands deal with the unity of the church.
There’s a great infographic about all the one another verses at
Today we are taking some of the other “one anothers” and combining them into one
category we are calling “Belong to One Another.”
These include some things you may naturally do along with some things you will
Are you the kind of people who like the bad news or the good news first?
Great! We will start with the bad news!
We are called to…
● Rebuke one another.
● Exhort one another.
● Confess to one another.
And then also means to be willing to be rebuked by another, be exhorted by another, and
be willing to hear people’s confessions.
And now for the good news. We are called to…
● Restore one another and be restored.
● Build Up one another and be built up.
● Encourage one another and be encouraged.
So maybe what I consider bad news is something that is actually easy for you to do. I am
really good at building up and encouraging, and I like being built up and encouraged. I
have a harder time rebuking and exhorting or being exhorted and rebuked.
The early church in Acts 2, never stopped meeting and encouraging each other. There
was real accountability.
Here’s a few verses that point out the transformation that comes through honest
● “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of
you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” – Matthew 18:15 (NIV)
● “Anyone who loves learning accepts correction, but a person who hates being
corrected is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1 (NCV)
● Or in the King James Version from 1611 – “Whoso loveth instruction loveth
knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is stupid.”
● Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the
church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in
our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord,
measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown
about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try
to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the
truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of
his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part
does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is
healthy and growing and full of love. – Ephesians 4:12-16
We belong to each other as we are all part of the Body of Christ – we bring Jesus’
presence into the world! That’s why it’s so important we grow and mature and become
more like Jesus!
These verses emphasize the importance of speaking truth in love, addressing faults and
sins gently, and being willing to engage in honest and constructive conversations to help
one another grow in faith and character. They highlight the significance of sincere care
and concern for others, even when it involves difficult discussions.
Several years ago, Deborah, the kids, and I went to our favorite yogurt place in Pasadena,
CA called 21 Choices. It is a lot like Amy’s Ice Cream or Coldstone Creamery. You
choose your flavor and then ask them to mix in different toppings. I usually went with
some sort of combination of chocolate ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and
peanut butter. They mix it up and then let you sample it before you pay to make sure they did it right. On this particular day, I wasn’t paying attention or was distracted by my kids
who were about 2 and 5 at the time. I don’t know what happened exactly. I just remember
the woman who worked there working on my order and then reaching over the counter
with the spoon in her hand. Without hesitating or thinking I just leaned up on my tip toes
and took a bite. Rather than grabbing the spoon, I let a stranger feed me! She turned beet
red and my kids looked so ashamed. Deborah just started laughing!
What an absurd moment! Yet how often do we let other people feed us, when we are
entirely capable of feeding ourselves?
It is cute to feed babies, but it becomes more annoying when they are toddlers. Once they
are children, it becomes a non-issue, but it is tragic when an adult needs to have someone
We should want to become more like Jesus! We don’t have to stay where we are
spiritually, emotionally, and relationally! We can grow!
Accountability is important for growth, but so few of us allow people close enough to
help us. And let’s be honest – some people love hard conversations but don’t actually love
people. Both are critical.
At Gateway, we are known for how “no perfect people are allowed” and how we say to
all “come as you are.” And you know, you really are good at this! In a world where most
people feel like Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, and overly political, you have
created the space where people are absolutely welcome regardless of their background,
their choices, their struggles, or their doubts.
The secret behind the legacy of Gateway is that many people have also discovered that
you can come as you are, but you don’t have to stay as you are.
If you are willing to lean into your faith and lean into community, you can really grow
here. You can start to become more and more like Jesus – the One who exemplified and
personified unconditional love in a world of animosity, joy regardless of suffering, and
peace regardless of circumstances.
Leaning into faith means seeking to grow in your relationship with God with time on
your own reading the Bible, praying, and applying what God reveals to you. Leaning into
community means connecting with a group. Our groups come in four categories – groups
in which you can Belong, Serve, Heal, and Grow.
And in those groups – whether it is a Sunday morning group serving on campus or a
weekday community group in someone’s home or a Restore group on campus or a
serving group in the city, in that group are people who are coming as they are but not
wanting to stay as they are.
You see, we are designed to belong to one another.
A truly loving community is one that is inclusive and a place where people are willing to
have honest but loving conversations.
Unfortunately this combination is way too rare.
When we don’t belong and don’t care, we are indifferent, neglectful, create an
environment of isolation where people are excluded.
When we are with people who don’t belong but we care for them we might have
empathy, compassion, and even show them kindness. This could be when we give money
to an organization but we don’t necessarily have relationships with those we are helping.
But when we really care, we help them belong.
When people belong but don’t care, we complain, gossip, and judge others because they
annoy us. Perhaps this may be how you’ve been treated by extended family members or
people at work or your neighbors or maybe you’ve fallen into this trap and done this.
When we talk to other people about someone else, we rob the person the chance to grow
and change. What we might think is venting or processing may actually be gossip or slander.
But what happens in a healthy community? We love people enough to restore them, rebuke them, exhort them, and encourage them. And we love God enough and want to become more like Jesus enough that we welcome being restored, rebuked, exhorted, and encouraged. So now that we know why we should take care of each other, let’s look at how to do this. Let’s start with the hardest and most difficult and perhaps most abused of them all.
When people in our life who love us and love Jesus tell us the truth when we are in the
wrong, that is not judgment. That is love and accountability. The key is who does it and
how they do it.
If my kid is tapdancing on Mopac and I tell them to stop before they hurt themselves,
that’s not me judging them, that is me loving them so they don’t hurt themselves or hurt
The problem is Christians have barked moral rules at the world, instead of starting at
home (the church) in LOVE.
Some of you have experienced harsh and damaging things at the hands or from the words
of people who claim to follow Jesus. And for that I’m so sorry. That was not what God
wanted. But others have cried out church hurt when many times it was really loving
“They shamed me!”… no, they asked you to stop sleeping around, etc.
Sometimes what we think is persecution is actually just the consequences of bad
“The Greek word most often translated “rebuke” in the New Testament means “to
reprimand and convict by exposing a wrong.” There are times when all of us need to be
rebuked, and there are times when a believer needs to rebuke another believer.
We normally think of a rebuke in a negative sense, but Proverbs 27:5–6 says, “Better is
open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy
Paul instructs Titus, as an overseer of the church, to “speak, and exhort, and rebuke with
all authority” (Titus 2:15), implying that all three activities are of equal importance. We
know we should always encourage each other and speak the truth (1 Thessalonians 5:11;
Ephesians 4:25), but how do we know when to rebuke another believer?
Scriptural rebuke begins in the heart. Before we confront anyone about anything, we
should first examine our own motives. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let everything be done
in love.” That includes rebuke.
There is a right way and a wrong way to rebuke someone.
Wrong rebuking stems from pride, anger, malice, jealousy, or another selfish attitude.
The goal of an unscriptural rebuke is to injure, shame, or otherwise injure a Christian
brother or sister. Often, hypocrisy is involved. Most of the Bible’s warnings against
judging others pertain to those who condemn others for the very things they do
A simple checklist can help individuals know when it may be necessary to rebuke a
fellow believer who is headed towards disaster.. We should never be hasty or rash in a
rebuke. We should evaluate each situation carefully and prayerfully and ask ourselves a
few questions (a more comprehensive list can be found at
- Do I have a relationship with this person that allows me to speak into his life?
- Is my motive that of restoration rather than condemnation?
- Would I be willing to have someone rebuke me in the same way?
- Is this offense truly a sin or simply an act of immaturity or preference?
- Am I acting in love?
Notice the heart behind this passage:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should
restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. – Galatians
When we are called to confront or rebuke a fellow believer, we must always do so in an
attitude of humility, knowing that we too are prone to sin. We can follow Jesus’ golden
words in this and every other situation: “So in everything, do to others what you would
have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)
Let me end with this on rebuke, this should not be your first or even your second or
probably even your third move. You should be way more quick to encourage and build
up, but there may be an occasion where God may be inviting you to have a hard
conversation with someone you love and someone who knows you love them.
Exhort means “to call out” or encourage
Romans 15:5- 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the
same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind
and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called to build one another up, not tear each other down. We are not called to
simply call people out but call them UP. Build people up with words of encouragement.
Remind them who they are in Christ, and the beauty they bring to the world.
Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if
you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and
pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous
person has great power and produces wonderful results. – James 5:15-16
Forgiveness comes from confessing your sins to God.
Healing comes from confessing your sins to each other.
“What should you do about this?”
What are the obstacles in your life that keep you from emotional and relational
All you need is one or two people that you get to know and you let get to know you. The
easiest way to find those one or two people is to join a group. As you grow closer to those
in your group, a person or two will emerge as the ones to invite to become your spiritual
running partners – think of them like your own personal spiritual board of directors. They
are helping you see your blind spots, and you are helping them see theirs.
In the process, you will all become more like Jesus.
And our world needs allot more Jesus!
Find an accountability partner in:
● Your spiritual walk (running partner or group)
● Your finances
● Your marriage and parenting (a couple that is somewhere you want to be)
● Your addictions or pitfalls (Restore)
● Physical life (gym or running partner)
You have to hand people the license to speak into your life, it won’t happen by accident.
Be direct and be purposeful. Ask “can you mentor me in area?” or “can we meet
1x a month to talk about ?”
“How can we all live this out together?”
Can you imagine our city if all of us in this room left this place eager to grow to become
more like Jesus?
What if we used this summer to BLESS others!
We can bring more of heaven to earth when we connect more deeply with the Creator of
heaven and earth.