Scriptures: Luke 17:11-19
Psalm 133:1- "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
Unity is pleasant and precious; the unity of believers helps draw others to faith. Unity gives us a foretaste of heaven. When unity abides, ministry is revitalized because tension has ceased and energy blossoms instead of diminishes.
In these verses, we read about the unity of the ten lepers. Their common misery and pain drove them together. Their ailment united them: their leprosy kept them together. A common need brought this unique group of men together. In life they were probably all heading in very different directions: from different walks of life with different jobs, hopes, desires and dreams. But their pain and misery caused their lives to intersect: caused them to connect. They were separated from others so they need each other.
But something happened when Jesus crossed paths with them: they lifted up their voices and said: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. As they went, they were cleansed, the Bible says.
After the cleansing the former lepers became two groups: 9 Jewish men and 1 Samaritan man. The Samaritan went to Jesus and worshipped him, while the Jewish men went to the priest. They were united until they were cleansed. The Jewish men would not bring a Samaritan into the temples and their customs became more important than their friendship and unity. Their religious acceptance mattered more than the man who had been their comrade.
Unity is greater than a common need. All humans have a common need: we all need God's mercy. We all need to be cleansed of sin. We all have a common ailment: we are lost without Christ. We must be careful that once we receive mercy, we do not forget those who still need mercy. We can find ourselves worrying more about appearances and less about individuals.
We must strive for unity and remember that our need for our Savior has brought us together. Now that we have received mercy we must be quick to give mercy to others. Lets not focus on our differences, but on our common purpose to serve the Lord. Let us always pray that Jesus has mercy on us.
Scriptures: 2 Timothy 4:9-11
The Bible lists fifteen characteristics of Christian love in the 1 Corinthians 13. It tells us that: "love is patient": love has patience with people. "Love is kind": sweet to all. "Love knows no envy:" envy is not just wanting what others have, but wishing they had never gotten it to begin with. "Love is not boastful:" we must remember to stay humble. "Love is not proud." "Love is not rude:" courtesy, tact and politeness are lovely things. "Love is not self-seeking, easily angered, keeps no records of wrong, does not delight in evil, rejoices in truth. always protect, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres."
God's love for us is: proven love- it is sacrificial. His love is pure: He loved us while we were yet sinners. It's perfect: truly unconditional. It's powerful: promotes changes in our lives for the better. It's protective: God's love guards our lives. It's patient: He is incredibly long-suffering with us and abundant in mercy. It's a providing love: God's love supplies all our needs.
Love is greater than a feeling. Love is something that can be seen lived out in life. Love is demonstrated by actions and sacrifice. Love that is real can be counted on to survive the greatest challenges of this life.
There is love, but there are also lovers. Lovers are what we invest our love in. We can be lovers of God, people, music, entertainment, places, professions, positions, power, popularity, etc. The Bible tells that "Demas loved this present world." Demas became in love with the present and totally neglected his future. He became focused on what was occurring at the time: what was current, seemed to be immediate, but truly was temporary. This love of the world caused Demas to forsake others. Paul was deserted for the love that Demas had for the present world.
It is good to love, but ask yourself the question: who are my lovers? Do I love this present world? That love will leave to loveless actions. Do I love God? This love will lead to actions that demonstrate what love really looks like. Do I love others? Above everything it is people we should love. Have I loved someone to Jesus? Have I loved someone to His cross? What is my first lover?