Thanks to Pastor Scotty Smith for this prayer:
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:13-16
Forbearing Father, thank you for documenting the relational foolishness and failures of your people. Though it must grieve your heart, these portions of your Word arrest our naiveté and keep us from idolizing Christian community. They also demonstrate how much we need the gospel every day, even every hour. Life in the Body of Christ is often messy and requires a constant supply of your never-ending mercies.
That we indulge our sinful nature, and “bite and devour each other” is a sad fact, but it’s not our fate and it’s not something you want us to get used to. One Day we will be made perfect in love. One Day all of our relationships will reveal the beauty of life within the Godhead. Throughout eternity we will enjoy perfect society, friendship, communication, camaraderie and intimacy. Sear and seal this hope upon our hearts, and may it be the fuel for earnest reflection, repentance and change.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Grant us godly sorrow and deep repentance, for the ways we hide the beauty of Jesus through our pettiness, immaturity and selfishness. Let us grieve the ways we love so poorly. The gospel should make it harder, not easier for us to hurt one another. Let us weep as those who understand what is at stake. In a day when the culture is looking for reasons not to believe the gospel, forgive us for adding to their ammo and salvo.
Forgive us, Jesus. You’ve made it clear that the world will know we are your disciples by the way we love one another. Bring the power of the gospel to bear upon our shared and broken life as your Bride—in our marriages, friendships, community groups, leadership gatherings and in our corporate worship.
Grace doesn’t free us to love haphazardly and selectively, but generously and extravagantly—as an overflow of the way you love us, Jesus. So very Amen, we pray, in your holy and loving name.