Monday—Read John 13:34-35 in the New Testament. Jesus gives his new command in this passage. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” How many people know you as a disciple of Jesus? If there are none, or only a few, then you can sit with the vast majority of humanity. As an observer, how many disciples of Jesus do you know? Where are these Christians who love one another?
Tuesday—Read Genesis 2:18 in the Old Testament. Everything had been declared “good” in the creation story. But then God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” We are made for relationship with others and with God. Compare this with your own experience. Has life ever been good when you were isolated? If God’s creative work was not done until he solved man’s isolation problem, are you wrong by interfering somehow with that continued creation in your own life? What is the difference between seeking solitude and seeking isolation?
Wednesday—Read I Peter 1:22-25 in the New Testament. “A man should own a cemetery at least big enough to bury the faults of his friends.” So said William Henry Beecher back in the 1800s. When have you had a season in your life where you would rather be alone than in a relationship with other people? Is there someone that needs to forgive you? Someone you need to forgive? What are some of your strategies for letting go of annoyances and the faults you may find in others? What behaviors would cause you to speak up?
Thursday—Read Ephesians 4:1-7 in the New Testament. You may recall this passage from last week’s study guide. This is well worth a review, since we are to make every effort to keep “the unity of the Spirit through the bond on peace.” As you meet and get to know people in your new groups, there will be opportunities to be patient with each other’s faults, and to bear with one another. When you get close to people, you become aware that everyone has some good and some bad. In order to love them, you may have to overlook some of the small stuff—and maybe it’s mostly small stuff anyway! What, really, does it mean to love one another?
Friday—Read Ephesians 4:25 in the New Testament. Be truthful with all. Now, how difficult could that be? When our namesake, the apostle Paul, wrote these words to a troubled church in Ephesus, he was encouraging that congregation to love one another by being completely humble, gentle, patient, and to be willing to bear with their fellow church members in love. Particularly, he admonished the congregation to speak truthfully to each other—in love. You have to tell the truth, but always in love. It may be truthful to be blunt, but the truth should never become a blunt instrument used for the purpose of wounding someone. Are you able to speak truthfully and honestly about conflict, without engaging in conflict? Your group might appreciate it!