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Good morning! Before we get started this morning, I would like us to take a minute and pray for Pastor Dave and Loretta and their family. If have not already heard, they are in Pennsylvania today due to the sudden passing of Loretta’s mother. And so if you will, please pray with me for them.
we fought - ugly fought
Everyone of us today has been impacted by family. Whether is it for the good or for the bad, family regardless of our situations makes an impact in our lives. Just a last week we celebrated Mother’s Day, and we celebrate Mother’s Day because Hallmark says we should so that they can sell more cards. But we also celebrate Mother’s Day because we know that without our Mother’s, whether they are biological, adoptive, spiritual, or the one’s that step in when ours don’t or can’t, without them we wouldn’t have been shaped into the people we are today. The same can also be said about our fathers, whom we will celebrate in just a few weeks.

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Suffice it to say, if Mother’s and Father’s have impacted us, than it stands to reason that siblings, our brothers and our sisters have impacted us as well. Real quickly, how many in this room has a sibling? Great, those that raised your hands will know exactly what I’m talking about, those that didn’t, sorry, but after the story i’m about to tell, maybe you’ll be little relieved a little relief.
But that being said, we also live our lives, if some of us are so blessed, with brothers and sisters. How many in this room has a sibling? whether older or younger?
babysitters would babysit once and never again
So, I have one sibling, a younger sister. And if I’m really honest, growing up with us would have been a nightmare. We are four years apart, and it just seemed that there was nothing that would stifle the sibling rivalry between us. Those of you with siblings probably understand what I’m getting at. There is just something with brothers and sisters that wants to best the other. You just want to be better. Whether you are fighting for the last roll at the dinner table, or maybe the right to sit in the front seat whenever you would go out somewhere. There was alway that desire to be better than the other.
If you haven’t experienced this for yourself, just take a look at scripture. The relationship between Cain and Abel—Yeah that sibling rivalry did not end well for either of the brothers. Or maybe think about Jacob and Esau, Jacob was a deceiver who stole his brothers birthright and blessing. Or Joseph with his brothers who sold him into slavery. The list could go on and on and on.
Anyways, we are four years apart. I remember the day that I was told I was going to be a big brother. Well, let’s just say I was not happy. I was pretty upset. And our relationship during our childhood years pretty much reflected that. We fought often and more violently than I know of anyone else that I have spoken to. In fact, we were so bad that babysitters would take care of us the first time, then never again. They would never take the job a second time. I’m sure that was a burden on our parents, now that I think about it.
For those of you that have siblings, this may sound familiar. It may sound foreign. But I would venture that all of us at some point or another have experienced this sibling rivalry. THis
And the same was true with my sister. We fought so badly that. Babysitters would look after us once and then never come back because they didn’t want to deal with how bad we were towards one another. And maybe you can relate to this story. Maybe you have experienced that same kind of animosity toward your brother or your sister.
And scripture seems to reveal that this now a part of the broken human condition. Siblings will fight and vie for affection, whether it is the affection of a parent, or a friend, or even the affection of God in Cain and Abel’s circumstance.
But our siblings our siblings impact us. They change us and influence us, whether it is for the good or for the bad. And this is true. How we respond to our siblings in our own rivalry though borne out of sin and selfishness, ultimately impacts who we are and will inform how we relate to others. How we see other people and whether they will be a friend or a foe.
I tell you this good news as a reminder that today, we are all going to hear some tough things, hard things to swallow. At least, they are hard for me to swallow. But, there is good news. On the other side of all of this, I promise there is good news. So bear with me until the end.
But, you see, even in the midst of the rivalry that exists between brothers and sisters, the scriptures have called us to deny ourselves and lay that burden down. Because when we talk about brothers and sisters in a Christian respect, we are no longer talking about and referring to the siblings that we grew up with and may be related to by blood or adoption, but we are in fact talking about those we find ourselves in community with in the body of Christ. Who all comes from very different walks of like and different preferences and desires, likes and dislikes.
In the New Testament alone, the most frequent word used in order to describe the christian or to reference the christians is “brother” or “Brothers and sisters.” It occurs 254 times in the New Testament. Now some of those occasions are in reference to literal brothers, like James and John in the gospels. But from my quick scour those instances only account for about 10% of it usage. But even if I am more conservative, we could say that roughly 200 times in the New Testament, me and you, we are referred to as brothers.
Which makes perfect sense! After all, Jesus has said that we should refer to our God as Father. And as Father, we recognize that through the cross of Christ, we have been all adopted into the family of God as his sons and daughters. And thus, if we are his sons and daughters, then we are also in relationship with one another as brothers and sisters.
And so, if our brothers and sisters are those in the Church, in this body of Christ, then we must act as the scriptures have called us to act toward one another. And in 1 Corinthians 16, Paul addresses exactly this subject.
But before we get to chapter 16, I want to do a quick flyover the Letter. Because I think we can better understand what Paul in saying in 16, if we know what he has said before that. First and foremost, Paul is writing this letter to the Church in Corinth. And let’s be clear, he is not writing this letter because they are doing something right. It’s because they are doing something very wrong.
We would probably relate this letter to receiving a written warning from our boss at work or even from HR for poor job performance and we need to make adjustments in how we get things accomplished. Or maybe we could even relate it to getting a speeding ticket because we made a mistake and it will cause us to think twice about doing it again.
Paul is writing the Corinthians because he wants them to slow down. Examine what they are doing wrong, and then make the necessary adjustments for correction. But unlike the HR warning and speeding ticket, Paul writes the church because he loves them and wants them to flourish—not fail.
And so in this letter, Paul begins to address the many issues taking place. There are divisions over which preacher they should be listening to and following, cases of church members taking each other to court, reports of people eating food sacrificed to idols.
Then he closes out his issues with the church in Corinth by spending four chapters calling out the brothers and sisters over their arguments, disagreements, quarreling and fights about corporate worship practices. Yeah, he went there. And it hurts. and it stings. And I felt conviction after conviction while reading it, and then writing it, and then reading it again, and writing it again. But
He addresses the way people dress to the way they worship. And I can say from my own conviction how easy it is to have my own preferences and desires about worship and forget that worship is not about me, but worship at its is about God.
Paul spends four chapters on it because he knows that if there is one thing that is going to divide the church, it is the very personal things that we feel about worship. Right? We would all agree that the way in which we worship is extremely personal. It only makes sense that we would want it to be a certain way. But Paul, I think makes clear that our preferences are secondary to the gospel. To reaching people, and to loving them.
And Paul is telling this to the corinthians out of a love for them and desire to see their church flourish. But how is it going to flourish. It’s only going to flourish in unity. The church in Corinth is only going to flourish in unity. If we want to see our own church flourish, it will only flourish in unity.
So, Paul finally closes his letter to the Corinthians in chapter 16. Today, I want to focus in on verses 19-24, which may seem like an odd place since it is Paul’s final greetings to the church. But let’s read it together.

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

19 The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

I think that sometimes it can be really easy to read a passage like this and just skip right over it. To think that it doesn’t have much value or purpose. But Paul is always intentional. and we know that all scripture is profitable.
And at first glance, it just seems like a typical greeting: the Churches of Asia send you greetings. But so does Aquila and Prisca and their church.
How many of you have been on the phone with someone and started talking to them and telling them things that you really didn’t want others to hear. Especially if you were maybe talking about a particular issue going on in your life. And then as you keep talking and talking, you inevitably hear another voice on the other end that is not the voice of the person you called. And then you are mortified, especially if that person is someone you admire, or look up too.
First, let that be a lesson in gossip to all of us, don’t talk about people to other people because you never know who they know or who may be listening.
Well, when Paul notes that Aquila and Prisca send their greetings, it would have been both a warm entreaty, but also a dagger to the heart. After all, Aquila and Prisca are from the Corinthian Church. They were converted by Paul there and were more than likely instrumental in establishing the church and bringing many into their home and into the Kingdom.
The Corinthians knew these names. They were two people that they looked up to, admired, and had a lot of the thankful for. And here Paul is telling them, they have read your mail. They were listening. They know what’s going on.
I’m just saying that right there would be enough to get me to stop whatever complaining, whatever desires, whatever strife I was trying to stir right then and there, because I would not WANT to disappoint.
But notice that their greetings is a “hearty greeting.” In greek the word used for hearty really means much, many, great. But I love what the translators have chosen here in the ESV, “hearty,” because hearty defined by Merriam Webster is “giving unqualified support.”
Aquila and Prisca did not have to send their own admonition to the church in Corinth because they give their unqualified, undeserved, unearned support of the church, in the hope and knowledge that the church is going to make the necessary corrections, to turn the other direction, to make the changes required of them to be the church that Aquila and Prisca know they can be.
We are not required to have qualified reasons to love our brother or sister. They do not have to earn our greeting on Sunday mornings, because our example is to trust that God is working in them and through them, and that is enough.
You know how they can be so confident in the way they greet Corinth? Because they have the full assurance that God will not abandon what he started there. They send their hearty greetings “in the Lord.” It is a faith in Jesus that they know He will keep working with them, and through them, and for them, because God does not abandon his children. Especially because his children will inevitably glorify him. How do I know this. Well every week we end with the same benediction:

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen

God is glorified through His church due to the power of his Spirit that is at work within us. We are constantly a work in progress. Constantly being sanctified by the Spirit. We are bound to mess up and make mistakes, and because the church, that is the local church is made up of broken human beings, the church is going to make broken mistakes and choices. But, The spirit is at work. and where the spirit is at work, so is there hope that we will be put right.
And in the same manner we are not required to have qualified reasons to love our brother or our sister. They do not have to earn our greeting on Sunday mornings, because our example is to trust that God is working in them and through them, and that is enough.
Paul then continues in verse 20, “All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
This is not a scripture telling you to start kissing people. I am not telling you as a church that what we are required is to start greeting everyone that walks through our doors by kissing them. That is not what the point of this verse. I mean I’m not gonna stop you if you want to, but don’t go telling people I told you to do it. I will deny it until Jesus returns.
But, what this verse is saying that whenever and not matter how you greet your brothers and sisters, you should do so in holiness. Generally this word means “that which is set apart.” But it also carries with it the weight of purity, sanctity, and as if you were passing the greeting to God himself. It is a greeting representative of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In which case, there can be no judgement, no animosity, no selfishness, not self-desire, self-preference in the giving of and receiving of such a greeting. It is in fact the means by which Paul breaks down all barriers that have separated and divided the church in Corinth because in order to perform such a greeting one must be willing to sacrifice himself or herself for the other.
And if that isn’t enough, Paul finishes his letter by talking about those that have no love for the Lord. and if there is one who has no love, than he is accursed. Let there me no mistake that Paul did not just shift gears, or change subjects. Your love for the Lord is directly related to your love for you brother.
1 John Chapter 4:20-21 says,

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

As John makes clear, Paul alludes to it. You do not love God if you do not love your brother. But God desires love and unity in the body. He desires brothers and sisters to live in flourishing with one another.
Remember, Paul spent 4 chapters on worship, and in the middle of those he speaks directly to what love looks like:

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Can we love like that? can we love so much toward one another that they will know we are Christ’s disciples, if we have love for one another? That’s John 13:35.
Why? that answer is quite simple.
35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 13:35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
When we display the fullness of God’s love within the church, then we can display the fullness of God’s love outside of the church. And when we do that, the gospel can reach more people, more quickly, and more effectively.
So how do we do this? verse 23, when we have the grace of the Lord Jesus with us. We are going to mess up. We aren’t going love like we should. But as a church. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should keep fighting for it. We should keep laying down ourselves for the sake of others. Praying to our Lord Jesus to come. To show us the better way. To reveal to us how to love. How to love each other and how to love the world. We meet together as the body to be encouraged by one another, not judged. We meet together as the body to lift one up, not tear them down. We get enough of that from the world.
Let’s transform our world by first transforming each other into brothers and sisters that love each other unconditionally and fully in the unity of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the Gospel going into all the world.
Let’s pray.
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