READ: JOHN 13:34-35; GALATIANS 5:22-23; EPHESIANS 4:24-32
On the night before Jesus went to the cross, He told His followers, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Have you ever had the opportunity to share your faith because people noticed Jesus’s love shining through you? Sometimes, before we say anything about how we belong to God’s family, people can see there’s something different about us. Why?
Think about it this way: when you’re part of an earthly family, you take on family traits. If you were born into your family, you may have the same build or hair color as your relatives. And whether you were adopted or born into a family, you may also have other family traits—like facial expressions, mannerisms, sense of humor, work ethic, a knack for helping others, etc. When we’re part of an earthly family, it’s often easy to see we belong to our family because we share these traits. Being part of God’s family is like that too. The Holy Spirit develops traits in us that reflect Jesus—like love, patience, and kindness. That’s often how people can tell we’re Christians.
But sometimes we don’t act like Christians. Treating others badly can make it more difficult for people to see we belong to God’s family. When our actions keep us from looking like Jesus, He calls us to confess our sin to Him and trust Him to help us grow in His love for others. Even when we struggle, we can have hope because the Holy Spirit is continuing to work in our lives to give us traits like kindness, patience, and self-control as we are transformed to become more like Jesus. And we also have hope that God is continuing to work in people’s hearts to draw them to Himself, even when we mess up. Through it all, we can rest assured that we are secure in the love of God, who is always kind and patient with us. • A. W. Smith
• Earthly families are made up of imperfect people, so family traits aren’t always positive. Even when our earthly family struggles, we can rest knowing that we belong to Jesus and the Holy Spirit is working in our hearts to bring out the traits of God’s family. What are some of the negative and positive traits in your family? What godly traits do you see the Holy Spirit bringing out in you? (Galatians 5:22-23)
• As the Holy Spirit works in you and helps you notice the negative and positive traits you see in yourself and your family, who are trusted people you can talk with—such as counselors, therapists, pastors, parents, etc.?
“By this everyone will know that you are my [Jesus’s] disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV)