November 23, 2017. Acts 15-16.
In this passage, believers are discussing how to handle the newly converted Gentile believers. Some fought for them to have to be circumcised and follow the law of Moses to which Peter responded:
10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:10-11)
We are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus. There are so many times when it is easy to look at fellow believers and point out what you think they should be doing better or the struggles they are having. Were the Gentiles perfect followers of Christ especially in the newness of their faith? Probably not. But look and see the effect of having the support of long-time believers did for them.
30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. (Acts 15:30-32)
5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. (Acts 16:5)
Did you see that? The church was strengthened in faith and grew daily in numbers. That sounds like exactly what the church is needing today; a little stronger faith and numbers growing rather than dwindling. How much stronger would the church be if believers were uplifting and encouraging one another rather than tearing each other down. Try uplifting a fellow believer today. Give an encouraging word, acknowledge effort, and just be kind.
We are all sinners saved only by grace. Let us be an example of that grace and love in a world filled with division and hate.