How many times have we unwittingly partnered with Satan in his plot to destroy the church? Every time we have gossiped about someone else in the church. Every time we have held a grudge against someone in the church rather than forgiving them. Every time we argue over disagreements about things that are nonessential to Christian doctrine. Paul says we need to “agree with each other in the Lord”, we need to partner with each other in the Lord.
The word for ‘agree’ refers to a way of thinking or a disposition. Christians should be predisposed to agreeing with one another. This type of agreement can only come “in the Lord.” God is the glue that holds us together. He is the tie that binds us together in love. Anytime Christians begin to drift apart and break partnership with one another, we know that it is because they first began to drift away from the Lord. We need to partner with the Lord so that we can partner with one another. Back in 2:2 Paul wrote: “Then make me truly happy by agreeing whole heartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose” (NLT). Working together with one heart and purpose is the perfect definition of Christian partnership.
2. Come to God with our Praise. (v. 4)
Calvin Miller wrote: “I have never forgotten that Daystar began his Great Insurrection by frowning and skipping his morning Alleluias. It must have seemed minor at the time, but hell grows out of paradise gone sour. Joy is a discipline, and fallen angels were always those who grew negligent with their praise” (Calvin Miller, The Valiant Papers, p. 18).
Hell grows out of paradise gone sour. We know that we are going sour when we fail to worship as we should. Joy and rejoicing are disciplines. Paul tells us that we are to discipline ourselves to rejoice in the Lord always. First, rejoicing comes from the word joy and has a much different meaning than to merely be happy. We are happy when our circumstances are good. However, joy is an underlying positive attitude in the face of even negative circumstances. The prophet Habakkuk wrote: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stall, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). I am quite sure that the prophet was not particularly happy about any of those things, but he had a joy in the Lord that enabled him to praise God anyway. The surest way to lose that joy is to stop praising God. When we stop worshiping we lose our joy and we grow sour. Think about that and the fact that on our church health analysis we scored 10 out of 100 for ‘inspiring worship’. If worship is the antidote to growing sour and if we are not worshiping, then just where does that leave us? It is imperative for our church that we learn how to rejoice in the Lord even when all the circumstances are not as we would like them to be. The alternative is to grow sour and rather than standing our ground we will rot or worse yet rebel.