Read Rom 12:9-21
When I was growing up, I was an only child. While I had many friends at school and church, at home it was just me. And I learned that I could only talk with my imaginary friend for so long. Even after getting my very own video game system, I was still by myself. I actually learned how to play some of the games where I played against myself. It was quite a sight as I played basketball or football controlling both teams.
The Christian life is not meant to be done alone. The New Testament emphasizes “one anotherness.” In numerous places, we are instructed to treat “one another” in specific ways. For example:
- Love one another (John 13:34).
- Accept one another (Romans 15:7).
- Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10).
- Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16).
- Instruct one another (Romans 15:14).
- Greet one another warmly (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20).
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
- Be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2).
- Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
- Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16).
- Encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13).
- Spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
- Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16).
- Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).
We are commanded also to be kind to one another and forgive one another (See Ephesians 4:32.), and to bear one another’s burdens (See Galatians 6:2.). And more. Much more.
Some of the “one anothers” in the New Testament are phrased negatively—that is, what we should not do to one another. For example, Romans 14:13 tells us, “Stop passing judgment on one another,” and James 4:11 says, “Do not slander one another.”
It all sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s how Christians are supposed to act, right? But every single “one another” command assumes a social context. It is impossible to obey those commands unless we are living in community with each other. And that might have been easier—or at least more natural—in the first century, when the early church comprised a network of people meeting in homes, eating together, and sharing each others’ lives.
Today our context for fulfilling the “one anothers” of Scripture is in places like Sunday School, Bible Study groups, or other times of our lives in which we get together with other believers. It is in these settings that we can rub shoulders with all kinds of people—those who are like us and those who are not. That’s a great place to learn how to obey God’s commands to love one another, accept one another, bear patiently with one another, and forgive one another.
Which of the one anothers are easier for you to do? Which ones are more difficult? Ask the Lord for opportunities to fulfill these commands.