Last time, in the post: “How Do You Spend Your Time? part 1“, we discussed giving God our best in regards to our time. I specifically addressed the “quiet time”, or “alone time” with Him. I believe that this “alone time” is the most important and primary element to obeying the greatest commandment:
Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
Ideally, it’s also best not to put a limit on this time. When I start reading His Word and I have to keep looking at my watch it becomes a great distraction and I’m not able to focus on what I’m reading. Just like listening to my wife and continually watching a ball game or checking my watch. If it’s disrespectful and dishonors my wife, isn’t it the same for God? Just because the Living God is invisible doesn’t mean we should treat Him any different than a person in the flesh. When we are spending time with Him, take it as seriously as being with someone you deeply respect.
This week I’d like to focus on not only the first but also the second commandment which should not be overlooked:
Matthew 22: 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Reading the Bible and spending time alone with God is not enough
God has wired us for relationships and the process of spiritual growth is no different.
One practical reason is to learn from a mature believer, read this incredible account:
Acts 8: 30 …Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. [They read from Isaiah]…
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
You see, the eunuch needed instruction (verse 31) and he was obviously eager to learn. God called Philip to meet him so that he could understand and come to know God in the flesh, Jesus. I don’t know how many times that I thought I understood a passage only to find out that I had no understanding when talking to a mature believer. God was gracious enough to put people, mature believers, in my life that I can discuss the scriptures with regularly and this keeps me on a good path. They do not know everything, but they typically understand things more than me. They have been invaluable to my growth.
We teach each other
Colossians 3: 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
I experience this every week on our Bible Team calls, with the exception of singing. The idea is that the individual reads the Bible, God will reveal a truth or make it plain to the reader, then they will share that truth with their brother or sister (in Christ) and there can be an even exchange between two people regarding what they have been reading and what they received from it. Two people will read the same verse, yet have two different perspectives of it, this is very dynamic and is exciting. In effect, everyone is a teacher and/or counselor in some aspect.
Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
As the believer continues to grow, with the acquired knowledge comes responsibility:
Luke 12: 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.
I know that this is a general concept, but it certainly applies to wisdom and knowledge gained. You may be just starting out in studying the Scriptures and not much is required of you. Your assignment is to continue learning (Josh. 1:8). As the learning progresses there is a time to apply it or teach it.
Personal/informal beats impersonal/formal every time
Maybe it’s not teaching in a formal sense, but when discussing the Scriptures with others, this knowledge can be shared to encourage and equip the saints. I believe just like we love God through the investment/offering of our time, we also love each other by giving our time. This blesses the teacher even more than the student:
Acts 20: 35 And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Another element of these special, godly relationships, other than getting to know God, is getting to know each other. In that process, we learn about each other’s fears, weaknesses, strengths, desires, and backgrounds. This is true fellowship where we can build each other up and pray for each other. These relationships become safe havens where we can discuss things that we can’t share with most other people. Formal Bible studies are great, but I find these types of meetings to be much more fruitful and enjoyable. Where we not only discuss the Bible and what we learn but about each other.
Very small, intimate meetings are essential
If you are not enjoying a relationship or a meeting time with a small group or an individual then you are missing out on a most crucial element of being a believer. Where else can we exercise this command:
Galatians 6: 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Let’s face it, we all have baggage from abusive relationships, heretical doctrines, past mistakes, etc. These essential relationships which should be regular Divine Appointments are where we truly develop into mature believers, in combination of course, with our “alone time”. These meetings, which God sets up, should be taken as seriously as any meeting scheduled with a client or your boss. If we are truly seeking to please God, we should treat this time as serious as any other time.
Without Discipleship, our service will dry up
I am convinced that this time, spent in regular fellowship, is more important than time spent in ministry. This is where we get our bearings, restoration, and encouragement. If we miss out on this time, then any time in ministry or service becomes less and less effective. The more time in this intimate fellowship the more driven we become to minister to others and that’s the way it should be. The disciples hung out with Jesus and spent time learning about the Kingdom of God before they started ministering to others. Even beyond the three years of Christ’s ministry, the fellowship never stopped.
Here is a great verse that illustrates this beautifully:
Acts 2: 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
If you have no one to spend this time with, feel free to get on our call on Monday evenings. Details are on the theBibleTeam.com. I realize that it is over the phone and we focus mostly on Bible Reading, but it would be a start and for those of you that are isolated, it’s a great start.
Will you spend time with others?
“Dear Lord, I praise your name. Thank you for leading me. Lord, please guide me to the person or small group that you want me to be involved with. Open my heart so that I can receive new friends and see opportunities for friendship. Help me to balance my schedule to that I can figure out how to make the time for fellowship and change my heart in the process. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”