by Maryanne H.
It has been said that sisters are the perfect best friend. Loyal. Long-suffering. True. Unconditional in love, honest in concern. Sisters are unbreakable in their bond, held together by the threads of history, bound by genetics and shared experience. Sisters understand a dimension that might boggle the most intuitive husband’s mind–after all, they have known you as long as you have been…you. Anyone with a sister close to her heart understands the near-mysterious depth of the bond of two women joined together by the same parents, having experienced much of the same life. It is moving and beautiful.
To some however, the notion of anything like a sisterly relationship is painful. The past has offered only a distorted representation of what God intended for the family. There has been no unity, no bonding, no love. Family relationships are where we experience either the most precious and intimately inspiring moments of our lives, or they are the dark places where we wrestle with pain that is deep and troubling.
So it is both interesting and encouraging that God uses “family language” to describe the relationship He has with His Body, and His desires for the Church. Scripture describes the relationship we share as believers. We are named His Bride. He is called our Father. We are referred to as His sons and daughters. He is called our Friend and Provider. And we, as Christ-followers, are called into a Family that dates back to the beginning of time and will persevere to its End. Regardless of our families of origin, upon coming into the Family of God, we inherit–along with other relationships–dozens of sisters. This is an awesome thing. God does indeed “set the lonely in families,” and in many cases the “family” is His visible Church.
What is the blueprint that God establishes for our relating to one another as sisters in the Lord?
Galatians 6:7-10 advises us:
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
In our autonomous culture, independent thought is prized so greatly that this call toward the Church can be difficult to process. After all, we have dozens of commitments: to school, neighborhood, community, sports. How can we put His Family first, when countless other people and tasks call to us, week in and week out?
Galatians 6 is a call to obedience that is counter-cultural, and one that will require daily wisdom. But thankfully, God’s Word always clarifies. And He desires that our first-fruits of kindness and compassion, time and love, should be given to those within the Body of Christ. Our Christians sisters should come at the front of the line-up of our priorities, not the back.
Why might it matter to God that believing women “do good” to one another, ahead of all other loyalties? Perhaps the greatest reason is that the Church is of utmost value to Christ Himself. So great is its value, in fact, that “He loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The Church–Christ’s Body–is the ground He has chosen to till. It is the place where His power, His glory and His Holiness are to be displayed.
It is in the functioning of the Church, and the love of its people toward one another, that God Himself is made to look most beautiful. We, His hands and feet, are necessary components to creating that beauty.
And so, as we break down what it is to “do good” to one another within the Body, maybe some practical application is helpful.
It is useful to recall Paul’s words to the Galatians at the beginning of chapter 6, in which he instructs them: “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” Doing good will be work and, as Paul references, will at times make us weary. Yet we know as believers that nothing is unseen to God, and our work offered up to Him is a sacrifice, a tithe of our time and energy. And it is work He promises to bless, as we persevere.
Doing good might look like picking up an extra nursery shift, so an over-extended Mom can take a week off.
Doing good might look like babysitting children not your own, so that a friend can run a sick baby to the doctor.
Doing good might look like support and encouragement when a marriage is facing difficulty.
Doing good might look like note-writing, email-sending or phone-calling to that person who has been on your heart all week.
It might look like mentoring younger women, providing for them a living and regular example of Godly womanhood.
Doing good might mean refraining from becoming embroiled in conflicts that are not our concern.
It might look like speaking well of another when the opportunity arises.
Doing good might mean serving when there are no other hands to serve, when the Church is tired.
In all of this “doing good,” in amongst these little acts of service, we strengthen our bonds as sisters in the Lord. We become more interdependent. More reliant on one another. More bonded by love, because we can need, we can rely. And out of that serving and willingness and love emerges something breathtaking: the visible Church.
So let’s continue on and not give up. Let’s give of ourselves and place one another in high priority. Let’s make Him look beautiful by our love.
Maryanne is wife to Pat and mom to four children, ages 4 to 11. In her spare time she enjoys writing and running. She has a half-dozen projects on the go at all times, none of which are ever complete. This is something which sanctifies her marriage, and teaches her husband patience. Maryanne enjoys encouraging women in their relationships with the Lord, and hopes to always be busy enough to stay out of trouble, but available enough to be useful to the women around her. She and her family have been back at ECPC since 2010.