The Christian life is meant to be lived in community. This is why we are told to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). Our brothers and sisters in Christ encourage us to “run the race” of faith with endurance. They help us see things we otherwise would miss in ourselves, which helps us grow spiritually. They encourage us to pursue the things of God, and they hold us accountable to live out what we say we believe. Together, believers can be a light in this dark world as we encourage one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
Before Jesus was crucified, He gave His disciples a “new” command: “Love one another. 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). This call to love one another is repeated multiple times in Scripture (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 4:7, 11). The love that believers demonstrate for each other allows the world to see who God is and what a transformed life in Christ looks like. First John 4:7–8 tells us why we love one another: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Because God is love, believers can and should encourage one another to love and good works.
In community, believers can practice what it means to love like God: sacrificially (2 Corinthians 5:21), selflessly (Mark 10:45), and unconditionally (Romans 5:8). When we are offended, we can practice loving each other well by forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32). We can bear with one another even when times or people are difficult (Colossians 3:13). When someone is in need, we can practice loving one another by tangibly meeting the need (1 John 3:18). We can also love people by building them up and helping them grow in Christ (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). We can step outside our comfort zone and encourage one another to love and good works in ways that we would not naturally pursue. We can be encouraged as we see others living out godly values in different, creative ways. By this the world can see what the love of God is.
Believers are also a light to the world through their good deeds. Jesus exhorted believers to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Good works do not save us (Ephesians 2:8–9); however, faith without works is dead faith (James 2:26). God saved us not just to rescue us from the consequence of our sin but also to reflect His character and goodness to the world. As the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22–23), we will act in ways that reflect God’s character. Instead of living according to our old selfish and sinful ways, we will seek to do good works that please God. We will exhort others to do the same. Fellowshipping with other Christians gives us the opportunity to put those good works into practice and surrounds us with examples of how to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV).
Loving others well and doing good works is a tangible way to reflect the light of Christ in this world. We must take seriously the instruction to encourage one another to love and good works so God can be glorified and so His love can be made complete in us: “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:11–12).