“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18

Recently, I was invited to a martial arts rank graduation for two sons of some close friends. I was impressed by the hard work of the students, of course, but I was also struck by the solidarity of those who were testing for their advancements.

Whenever one of their classmates was going through a set of movements, or sparring, or (especially) when they were attempting the famous board-breaking exercise, they cheered each other on. They clapped. They encouraged. They shouted affirmations to one another.

What had caused this team spirit in an individualized sport? They trained together, week in and week out, building camaraderie. Those who had walked the road before knew how difficult it was – but they also knew it could be done. It was infectious, and even those of us on the sidelines were getting in on the act!

As each came up to get his or her award, the whole room was ecstatic.

God expects us to build communities in much the same way. Through shared experiences and the battles of life, we are bonded to one another. When one has difficulty, the others of us should let them know that it’s going to be alright. We’ve been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale. When one rejoices, we all rejoice.

Not only does this help each member of the body, the care and concern spreads and begins to draw in those who are outside the family of God.

It is hard work, but the results are so worth it.