Used at Belhaven University, River Pointe Church, prison ministry, and pastoral counseling.
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)
This posting is Part 4. You can read One Anothering, Parts 1, 2 and 3.
The English phrase “one another” is derived from the Greek word allelon which means “one another, each other, mutually, or reciprocally.” The New Testament contains nearly 60 specific commands teaching us how to and how not to treat one another in God’s family and to maximize our witness to the unbelieving world (John 13:35). In addition to allelon, the Bible uses other words and phrases to teach us how to relate to others. Here are some (not all) of the New Testament’s one another passages numbered for discussion. I continue the sequencing begun in Parts 1-3 and punctuate my comments with prayers:
15. “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” (James 4:11) Lies and false reports are Satan’s weapons, so God’s people must avoid them. Slander often flows out of envy, destroys fellowship, and breaks Christ’s royal law of love. Jesus said that God’s laws are summarized in His commands to love God and our neighbor.1 When we slander someone, we place ourselves above God’s law of love, rationalizing our actions by a lower standard than what God holds us to.2 Of the seven things God hates in Prov 6:16-19, two deal with lying words.
Prayer: Lord, help us to speak only the truth in love. Help us to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Help us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom we were sealed for the day of redemption. We pray in Jesus’ name.3
16. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) The Bible requires confession of our sins to God and to one another, not to a priest. The Seven Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession are for Jesus’ people to use often.4 Let’s be honest with the Lord, ourselves, and trusted brothers and sisters. Let us admit our wrong every day and receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing every day. That cleans our heart and changes all our relationships. We are to help and restore others, never pretending we are flawless. We are to pray together as repenting and believing sinners, asking for God for His comprehensive healing in our lives. #5 of the Twelve Steps says: We admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.5 That’s healthy and healing for our souls!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, cleanse us and we will be clean; wash us and we will be whiter than snow. Let us hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from our sins and blot out all our iniquity. Create in us pure hearts, O God, and renew steadfast spirit within us. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and grant us willing spirits, to sustain us. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.6
17. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” (1 Peter 4:8-10) For Jesus’ people, our guest represents Christ and Jesus counts our hospitality to others as done unto Him!7 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another in concrete ways, Jesus lives in us and His love is made complete in us.8 When we love others, we are showing our love for Christ who loves us completely and unconditionally. When we show hospitality, we are serving and imitating God who is loving toward all people He has made.9 See also The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield and The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch.
Prayer: Lord, help us to love people like you do. Help us show compassion for their needs, their loneliness, their sickness, their weariness, their broken-ness. Help us to listen, to smile, to care, to offer help however we can. Help us to go out of our way to include unloved, untaught, unsaved, unchurched people who fall through the cracks and bring them Christ’s gospel of hope through word and deed. Give us courage to risk loving unlikable people, remembering that is how you first loved us and sent your Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
18. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (1 Pet 5:5,6)
19. Be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus….” (Phil 2:2-5)
Pride is competitive, tries to put ourselves above others, and creates conflict rather than harmony. Christ-like humility accepts a place of service, with concern for others’ needs and interests. Love promotes humility, keeping us in our proper place before God. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”10 These Christ-like behaviors turn our corner of the world right side up for the Lord’s honor and our enjoyment!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us a spirit of humility that realizes our ignorance, admits our mistakes, recognizes we need help and advice from others, and accepts rebukes. Help us to praise others rather than criticize them, to encourage rather than find fault, to build up rather than tear down, to think the best of others rather than the worst. Remind us that when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Help us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.11
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!
Notes (various translations) : 1 Matt 22:34–40. 2 Ex 20:16; Lev 19:16; Psalm 15:1–3; Prov 20:19. 3 Prayer based on Eph 4:15,29,30. 4 Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143. 5 Adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and many recovery programs. 6 Prayer based on parts of Psalm 51. 7 see Matt 25:31–46. 8 1 John 4:12. 9 Psalm 145:9; Acts 14:17. 10 1 Cor 13:4,5. 11 Prayer based on Job 42:1-6; Psalm 141:5; Prov 11:3; 18:21; Micah 6:8.