Love One Another
In the King James Translation, the term “one another” occurs 41 times. And most, not all, of these phrases are in the context of how Christians are to treat each other. And of the “one another” phrases which do not fall into that category, many of those fall into the “How Christians are not to treat each other” category. Those are just as important and today we are going to look at several passages from the word of God which deal with both. We are going to call these the “do’s” and the “not do’s”.
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
The love we have and show for one another is how we show the world that we are the disciples of Christ. So is it left to our discretion on how we are to love one another or are there some practical guidelines within the word of God on how we are to go about this? How do we show this love, do our brothers and sisters in Christ need to know we love them or can we just assume they know it and go on with our lives? How does our love for one another manifest itself in the way we treat one another? What do we do in order to show proper love? What do we not do if we want to show the proper love? What does the Lord say about this? This lesson is going to focus primarily on how we are to demonstrate our love for one another.
In Romans 12:9-18, Paul wrote”
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
From this passage we have several that we’ll put in the do category. Kindly, affectionate, giving preference to one another, generosity, blessings, rejoicing, patience, hospitable, steadfast prayer, rejoicing with the joyful and weeping with those in pain, peaceful living and a high regard for good things. These are all things a Christian must do in order to show that proper love for one another.
Paul also threw some “no do’s” in there as well. These are things we cannot do if we are to show the proper love for one another. We are NOT to lag in our diligence, we are not to curse those who persecute us, rather we are to bless them. We are not to focus our minds on high things which in this context means the differences between fortunate or less fortunate Christians, things like wealth, privilege, education, social grace, power, office, and position in the world. Not setting the mind on such things means not being influenced by them and not allowing them to be the basis of one’s attitude toward his brothers in Christ.
Another “Not do” is not to be wise in our own opinions. This immediate application here is that form of conceit which allows petty little human arrangements or opinions among the congregation to serve as the basis upon which some associations are made, and others neglected. In other words, we are not to allow matters of opinion to decide who or who we do not associate with in the body of Christ. There’s more on that as we work our way through Romans.
We “do not” repay evil for evil. Christianity is NOT an eye for an eye religion. We bless those who curse us, we love those who hate us. We DO NOT repay wrong with wrong. Imagine for just a moment where we would be today if Jesus Christ repaid wrong for wrong on the day of His crucifixion.
Moving on to Romans 13:8-10
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Love is the fulfillment of the law of Christ. One is not showing proper love to one another when they engage in the worldly activities Paul mentioned. Love towards one another demands a level of personal behavior. One cannot claim to love someone with who’s spouse they pursue, or with someone we murder, or steal from. Perfect love toward one another manifests itself in personal behavior, self restraint, sacrifice and honesty in our dealings. These things go in the “not do” category if we want to show the proper love for one another.
Paul urged his readership not to be wise in their own opinions in the scripture we read earlier. Concerning doubtful disputations, or in other words, matters of opinion, Paul went on add some more on this to the “not do” category.
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
The Bible is very clear about what we do when a brother is living in transgression of God’s law. But for matters of personal opinion, we are forbidden to judge one another. If someone has a complaint about a brother or sister in Christ they better be able to produce scripture which demonstrates what the violation of God’s will is or they will be judged themselves. This is not a friendly suggestion, it is a command and part of the law of Christ. Everybody has an opinion, everybody has an ideal. We are supposed to be helping each other get to heaven, working as a single unified body. And Paul, an inspired apostle, wrote to Christians in the first century telling them not to judge others based on matters of personal opinion and to make a personal resolve not to put that stumbling block in front of them. Don’t wound them, don’t hurt them, don’t drive them away, don’t try to force our ideals on them. If our opinion is something that is going to put hardship on a brother or sister in Christ, then Paul says to keep them to ourselves. Loving one another means loving others more than we love our opinions. Loving one another means putting the well being of others ahead of our ideals or opinions.
Please turn with me to Galatians 5:13-15. We just finished a lengthy study of the book of Galatians. At the close of the letter, Paul gave his readership some practical instruction on how to love one another properly. Some within the Galatian congregations had fallen prey to men who wanted to force the practice of the old law of Moses into Christianity. Paul went through a lengthy discourse on the advantages of the law of Christ and the disadvantages of the law of Moses and at the end of that letter, Paul knew his instructions were going to cause trouble within the congregations. These congregations had to reverse the Judaizing process and return to true Christianity. Paul knew there were people in those congregations who were misled, wrong and would have to be corrected. He knew there would be trouble when they started the process of returning themselves to the truth. So he included in his letter some of those “one another” phrases.
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
These Christians had a difficult task ahead of them. They had to reject the doctrine of the Judaizers and return to the truth. Paul taught them to love one another, to serve one another and not to bite and devour each other because it would lead to them being consumed by one another. In other words, if they weren’t careful, in their pursuit to return each other to the truth, they would injure one another and do more harm than good. Paul told them first what had to be done, but he wanted them to understand that the motivation had to be through love and by serving one another and not biting and devouring. When we read on ahead in Galatians 5, we see that Paul added some more “one another” instructions:
26. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. [the Greek word for provoke is “prokaleoo” which means to challenge to a combat or contest with someone]
6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
So from the book of Galatians we are going to add serving one another, loving one another as we love ourselves, restoring one another in spirit of gentleness if need be, and bearing one another’s burdens to the “do” side of the category. And in the “not do” category we are going to add not biting and devouring one another, becoming overtaken by our own opinions and not challenging, contesting or provoking one another.
The Galatian congregations were not alone in what they faced. People with differing opinions who were unable to work past them were at work in the congregation at Corinth as well. This is most well known congregation in all the New Testament that battled with this. They had all kinds of problems to deal with, mostly as a result of where they were. These Christian were mainly gentile converts from the city of Corinth which was one of the most corrupt and evil societies in existence in the Roman Empire. Imagine if you will trying to organize a congregation of Christians from among the people you would find within the walls of a maximum security prison and you might start getting somewhat of an idea of what this group of Christians had to contend with from within. A list of them is provided in
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Now catch this in verse 11… “Such were some of you”….
Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 and while we are turning there let’s consider this.
That congregation had Christians who had been engaging in some what we would call some really bad activities. It’s no wonder they had a lot to deal with. These people had a long way to go to be mature Christians. So before we wag our heads in disdain for the difficulties that congregation faced, we need to consider where they came from just to get to where they were. Paul literally planted a church of Christ in the skid row of the Roman Empire.
Paul was planning a third visit to them in order to help them out. Here is what he was afraid he would find when he got there. I’m quoting from the NASB because it has a really good translation of what Paul is telling them.
2 Corinthians 12:20-21
20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;
21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.
Paul was afraid when he got to Corinth, he would not find the brotherly love that Christians are to exhibit toward one another. Instead he was worried that he would find “strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances”. These things are not to be going on within a congregation of the Lord’s people. We can add all of these to the “not do” category. Those who do these things are not loving one another in the proper way.
How about the church in Ephesus? Turn with me to Ephesians 4
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Walk in Love
(Chap 5) 1. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Do’s lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing one another in love, kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness, unity
Not Do’s bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking.
How about the church on Colossi?
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Do’s Just read it again. No commentary necessary. It speaks for itself.
How about the church in Thessalonica?
1 Thessalonians 5:11-15
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
We are commanded to recognize and esteem those who labor among us. Those who work to bring and teach us God’s word and try to help guide us in the paths of right. We are to warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. We are never to render evil for evil to anyone. We are always to pursue what is good both for ourselves and for all.
The “do’s” and “do nots” just go on and on:
2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
The “do” column gets peace, gentleness and humility.
The “do not” column gets speaking evil of one another, foolishness, disobedience, deception, various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy and hating one another.
“exhort one another” means to encourage, support, build each other up.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,”
1 Peter 1:22
“love one another fervently with a pure heart”
In the epistles of John, we are taught to love one another no less than 6 times in just those words. “Love one another”
We have the do column and the do not column. When we put those all together we can form a picture of who we must be as Christians. On the one side we see how we are to act toward one another, how we treat one another, how we help, build up, support, encourage and teach one another. When we fail to do those things in the “do” column, we have fallen short as children of God in our duties to one another.
On the other side we see what we are NOT TO DO to one another if we love them. We are not to belittle, discourage, dishonor, tear down, divide from, hurt, harm, damage or consume one another in any way shape or form. We are of the body of Christ. We are the children of God. We are the best last hope for humanity. God has given us His will and left it up to us to represent it to the world. We stand apart from the world. We have to live in it, with all it’s disappointments, fear, hurt, deception and evil. We come together as a body, as a family so that we can escape from the world for just a little while before we go back and have to face it again. This congregation is our sanctuary. It’s our ONLY port in the storm. This is where we go for encouragement and fortification so that we can go back into the pit and keep on keeping on. This is our brief escape from it all. It’s the closest thing to heaven that any of us will ever get this side of the grave or the judgment. We must work to make sure this gathering is what it is intended to be for all of us. And we never ever want to do anything to ruin it for anyone else.
When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. When we are happy, we are all happy. When one of us repents, we all give thanks. When one of us triumphs, we all win.
When one of us is sick, we all suffer. When one of us dies, we all greave. When one of is cut, we all bleed. When one of us is lost, we all lose and when someone is hurt within the body of Christ by another, all of us have been wronged and we have failed.
A preacher I know once taught a lesson from this pulpit which claimed that Christianity is a “one another religion”. It truly is.