Used at Belhaven University, River Pointe Church, prison ministry, and pastoral counseling. Various Bible translations are used.
Jesus said—“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
For the early Christians in the Book of Acts, koinonia was not the frilly fellowship of periodic church outings. It was not just coffee, snacks, and small talk in the Fellowship Hall after the sermon. It was an unconditional sharing of their lives with the other members of Christ’s body (Ronald J. Sider, adapted).
Here are some (not all) of the New Testament’s one another passages numbered for ease of discussion. I continue the sequencing begun in Parts 1 and 2 and punctuate my comments with some hymn stanzas:
10. “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3) Back in Eph 2:10, Paul said, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In chapters 4-6, Paul expands on 2:10 describing the new life we are called to in Christ’s church, our families, and our workplaces. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created spiritual unity among Jesus’ followers. We must practice, keep, maintain, preserve harmony and oneness with Christian brothers and sisters in our local church and beyond. This calls for our Christ-like humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, and peacemaking attitudes and actions. “Believers are never told to become one; God has already made us one in Christ and we are expected to act like it.”1 We are to work out what the Lord works in us by His Holy Spirit.
11. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you….Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13) Martyn Lloyd-Jones: I say to God’s glory and in utter humility that whenever I see myself before God and realize what my blessed Lord has done for me, I am ready to forgive anybody anything….If we really know Christ as our Savior, our hearts are broken and cannot be hard, and we cannot refuse forgiveness. Christ says: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”2 We will know that forgiveness has begun when we recall those who hurt us and experience God’s power to do them good. 3
When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again. (John Fawcett)4
12. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph 5:21) Life doesn’t revolve around us; the world revolves around Jesus. Flexing with and yielding to one another in love whenever possible is proof that we are being filled with the Holy Spirit (see v. 15-20) We are to practice mutual servanthood, care, concern, and helpfulness. Regardless of our rank in Christ’s church, society, or our family, all Christians are to pattern our behavior after Jesus’ humility, love, and kindness.5 The Book of Philemon shows how Christian conversion transforms personal relationships with God and with others, even dealings between slaves and masters in Bible times and between employers and employees today. That’s one of the Lord’s ways to transform our world, little by little, for His glory and our joy.
13. “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator….Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Christ our Head.” (Col 3:9; Eph 4:15) When we lie, we resemble Satan and hurt other people. Trust is essential for relationships and lies destroy trust. Lying is selfish and disrespects other people, while speaking the truth in love builds them up and points them to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
This glorious hope [of Heaven] revives our courage along the way, While each in expectation lives, and longs to see the day [of Christ’s return]. (John Fawcett)
14. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ’s return] approaching.” (Heb 10:24-25)
Loving others in Christ’s family shows itself in acts of love and gathering in His name for worship, learning, praying, and mutual sharpening, especially in the light of Jesus’ Second Coming. Christ’s return is the most frequently mentioned doctrine in the New Testament, referred to on average of once every 13 verses.6 But Second Coming verses are not meant to make us speculate about times and dates, but to motivate us to help our brothers and sisters get ready for Jesus’ return. Christians must be active in local churches, having meaningful fellowship with other believers.7 Those who are not connected are often stunted in their spiritual growth and in their witness for Jesus. The Jewish Christians who first received this letter had been severely persecuted (32–34) and that reminds me of Malachi 3:16,17:
Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored His name. “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.”
A few serious believers in Malachi’s day met together for mutual encouragement, and God noticed, wrote it down, and promised to bless them for their faithfulness to Him! The godly remnant of Christ’s followers belong to Him in a special way and they will be jewels in His crown, and in the midst of judgment, the Lord will have mercy on them.8 What an incentive to spur each other on to faith, hope, and love as we prepare for Jesus’ return!
From sorrow, toil and pain, and sin, we shall be free; And perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity. (John Fawcett)
To be continued…
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!
NOTES: 1 Joni Eareckson Tada. 2 Matt 6:14,15. 3 Lewis B. Smedes. 4 From the hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” (1782). 5 Eph 4:29–5:2; Mk 10:42–45; Luke 22:24–27; John 13:14–16; Gal 5:13. 6 Leon Morris, Christianity Today. 7 see Ecc 4:9–12. 8 Zech 9:16.