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It takes all sorts

It’s ironic, I think, that one of the things we all have in common is the fact that we’re all different! No one person is exactly like another, so, if we’re to get on well with those around us, it’s important we’re aware of just how different people can be.

Some are leaders, some followers. Some take the tried and tested, well-trod path. Others machete-hack new paths through life. Some go with the flow and take things as they come, while others want a clearly formed plan, purpose or goal.

Some embrace change gladly. Others find it painfully difficult. Some are pessimists whose cup is half empty, others are optimists whose glass is half full.

While some see things starkly in terms of either wrong or right, others view things from every possible angle and are only too happy to give others the benefit of the doubt.

And although extroverts get their energy from being with people and attending multiple meetings, introverts find that having too much human interaction inevitably wears them out.

So if we’re to love our neighbours as ourselves, we need to appreciate people’s differences and make allowances. How else can we make lasting friendships or get along with fellow workers or church members who aren’t like us?

When the storms come

We know from Genesis 2:18 that it isn’t good to be alone, and this is particularly true when the winds of life buffet and we need others to help keep us afloat.

But while some relationships end up like ships that pass in the night, others appear more like a lifeboat — somewhere to go when life’s waters grow choppy and threaten to overwhelm us.

Some relationships are like pleasure steamers — bright, cheerful and able to bring joy to those accompanying them on their journey through life.

Others, however, are more like dreadnaughts — battleships whose only way to maintain their determined course is to train their guns on anyone who disagrees with them or is an imagined opponent. Relationships, in other words, that are hardly plain sailing!

And then there are those that resemble a luxury liner or lavish superyacht — costly, high maintenance and always on the move in an endless effort to avoid dry land, or ready to sail off at a moment’s notice as soon as the good times threaten to end.

It is of course up to God as to whether we sink or swim when life’s torrents threaten to overwhelm us (2 Samuel 22:5). It also depends on Him as to whether the waves will part, enabling us to walk safely through, as in Isaiah 43:2, or swallow us like Jonah.

Love, serve, be devoted…

So, whatever the outcome, it’s the believers we tend to turn to who can make all the difference between a life of — if you’ll pardon the pun — (HMS) Victory or a Titanic failure.

If, as followers of the Lord Jesus, we’re to be ‘fishers of men’ in boats that are seaworthy, may I encourage us to try living out the various ‘one another-s’ and ‘each other-s’ flowing throughout the New Testament?

Verses such as:
• ‘Love one another’ (John 13:34)
• ‘Serve one another’ (Galatians 5:13)
• ‘Be devoted to one another’ (Romans 12:10)
• ‘Honour one another’ (Romans 12:10)
• ‘Accept one another’ (Romans 15:7)
• ‘Bear with one another’ (Ephesians 5:21)
• ‘Submit to one another’ (Ephesians 4:2)
• ‘Live in harmony with one another’ (Romans 12:16)
• ‘Encourage one another’ (2 Corinthians 13:11)
• ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another’ (Ephesians 4:32)
• ‘Spur one another on toward love and good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24)
• ‘Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs’ (Ephesians 5:19)
• ‘Forgive each other’ (Ephesians 4:32)
• ‘Be at peace with each other’ (Mark 9:50)
• ‘Confess your sins to each other’ (James 5:16)
• ‘Pray for each other’ (James 5:16)
• ‘Strive to do what is good for each other’ (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
• ‘Build each other up’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Rather than agonising over the differences that separate, swamp or supposedly divide us, focusing on verses like these will provide a far more buoyant way to live.

Until the earth is filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14), let’s put ourselves in the shoes of others — our words and actions overflowing from hearts filled with love and compassion.


• What kind of vessel do your relationships most closely resemble? Are they the kind of interactions you enjoy or endure? Do they bring you closer to God or take you further from Him? If they tend to hinder your spiritual walk, ask God to help you to rectify this.

• Finally, try to avoid putting your trust in those who are only there for you in the good times, or whose sole desire is to cruise through life or crush the opposition. Instead, ask God to direct you to those who can nourish, sustain and keep you afloat. People you can nurture and encourage in return.

This devotion is written by MAF UK’s Copywriter and Editor, Gary Clayton.