John 15:1-27 (ESV) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV) And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Mark 11:24 (ESV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:2-8 (ESV)
1 Peter 4.7-9 ESV The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Life is short. The time you have with family and friends and in this world, is short. Even if the end of this age is not in the next few months, years or decades, our time on earth is short, like a vapor that appears for a moment and then is gone. Therefore, seeing that our time on earth is so short, we should live lives of self-control and be sober-minded for the sake of prayer. Prayer is a vital aspect of having healthy relationships with people. There are fleshly motivations, self-centered perspectives, as well as active and intelligent demonic forces that seek to destroy fellowship between people and with God. So we must live self-controlled, sober-mined lives for the sake of good prayer, focused prayer and effective prayer. An important part of having good fellowship with God and people is having a good prayer life.
Loving one another earnestly means our relationships can survive a multitude of sins, because love covers a multitude of sins. This does not mean that we condone sin, but it means that our relationships with others can survive the reality of sin, with which we all have to battle. Without earnest, sincere and authentic love, relationships will be poisoned by the reality of sin. No one is perfect, though we strive for perfection. If we expect others to be perfect, to never sin, to never disappoint us, to never hurt us, to never misunderstand us or misinterpret our motives or our words, then relationship will suffer, and possibly disintegrate. Why are there so many broken relationships? Why so many broken friendships, broken marriages, rifts between parents and children, siblings and church members? Probably because sin is a malady that affects us all, and unless we learn to love one another fervently, this reality of sin, this poison of sin, will destroy relationships. If we learn to love one another earnestly, relationships can survive and even thrive in spite of our continuing struggle to overcome selfishness and the messiness of human frailty.
We should show hospitality without grumbling, and this is more than just having people over for a drink or a meal. Hospitality is sometimes thought of as entertaining, throwing a party, or having friends over. It may be that in a superficial way, but remember that hospitality has the word “hospital” in it. Showing hospitality means to help people in the midst of their pain, to minister to people in the midst of their weakness and infirmity, to help people find strength and healing in their struggle with injury. If we think of hospitality as that of working with a patient at a hospital, we will probably be far more patient with those we live around, live with, and are called to love. Most people have suffered some kind of trauma in their lives, somewhere along the way, whether in childhood, in a work setting, among friends, or even at church. Many people live in a state of emotional or spiritual or relational handicap due to these hurts and traumas either from the past or in the present. If we can approach our relationship with people with kindness and understanding, a listening ear, a compassionate heart, and ideally with words and actions that can help bring healing to the heart and mind, then we will experience a deep fellowship with others as we become a conduit of the love and healing that God can bring through us.
"9 This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense to the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1.9-11
"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13.20-21 ESV