Is there a noticeable decline in the common courtesy and respect for others we were taught as children? Are we becoming a nation of individuals with each considering himself to be the only one of importance?
Please, thank you, holding a door for a stranger, helping someone just because, understanding that a 4-way stop is the adult equivalent of taking turns on the playground—are these courtesies evaporating?
Perhaps the lady driving the SUV is nice. Maybe she’s the first to show up with a meal for a sick neighbor. Could be her home is always open to her children’s friends. I don’t know her. She must have been in a hurry as she blew by the line of traffic, sped across the “Lane Ends” hash marks, and cut in with no signal or warning. Three drivers were forced to take evasive action. As she flashed by, I noted the cell phone glued to her ear. She was oblivious to the world around her and unconcerned about endangering others.
Parents, did any of us have to teach little Johnny to be selfish, or did he demonstrate that quality right out of the gate? I can testify that big Johnny can be as self-centered as little Johnny. Driving, living, working, or worshipping with others in community is not a natural response. Frankly, some people are easier to dwell with than others.
I need help in this arena, so I sat with a copy of the scriptures and did a word search for the phrase “one another”. A sermon I heard connected the terms community and one another. Limiting my investigation to the New Testament I found enough stuff to keep me busy for months.
Love one another.
The Apostle John was big on the “love one another” message. In several places John quoted Jesus commanding us to practice this foundational attitude for living in community.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35 (NASB)
The command is repeated in John 15:12, John 15:17, and at least 5 times in the tiny epistle of I John. That short book states that religion is phony without the love one another stuff.
Be kind to one another.
Like ripples spreading across a pond, a little kindness goes a long way. Remember this verse from summer Vacation Bible School or Bible Club? It’s a favorite adults like to sprinkle over the children.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)
Peter used the term hospitable. Opening our home, inviting someone to join us for a meal, sitting on the swing with listening ears—kindness wears many hats.
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
I Peter 4:9 (NASB)
Sometime kindness means we get our hands dirty and help lift a load. Even rugged individualists need others once in a while.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (NASB)
Serve one another.
There is no greater example of serving than Jesus. The disciples gathered for a meal, but there was no servant present to wash the dirty feet. Peter was not about to scrub Matthew’s bunions, and James figured he could endure Andrew’s aroma long enough to eat. Jesus did the dirty work and modeled a lesson we ought to hear more about at church, a lesson we ought to be more concerned about practicing at home and at work.
If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:14 (NASB)
Paul reminds us love is the motivator for service. Serving becomes a pleasure when my heart is filled with love. Be prepared, though. Some people are hard to love. We have to dig deeper until we hit the love.
…through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13 (NASB, selected)
Consider one another.
Here’s a new flash—I will not agree with everyone who shares an opinion. I will not condone every behavior, action, or practice I see another freely enjoying. Even though I want a black and white world, it is painted many shades of gray. How should I respond?
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
Romans 15:7 (NASB)
Acceptance is a matter for personal interpretation, right? It could mean tolerating, or perhaps cordially ignoring the other guy. That’s easy enough to do in a crowded world. Paul defined acceptance more clearly.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…
Romans 12:10 (NASB)
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Romans 14:19 (NASB)
Building someone up sounds like a time consuming activity. Is it really that important? It is if I view the other guy the way I should.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Philippians 2:3 (NASB)
Seek good for one another.
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
I Thessalonians 5:15 (NASB)
Surely this command only applies to people who go to my church, sing my songs, and parrot my convictions, right? Read the verse again, and note that Paul closed any loopholes. I am supposed to practice this toward all people.
Greet one another with a what?
Peter and Paul urged the readers of their letters to flat plant one on one another. Hey, I didn’t write this stuff.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Romans 16:16 (NASB)
Greet one another with a kiss of love.
I Peter 5:14 (NASB)
Greeting with a kiss was a cultural thing, and I am not suggesting we all pucker up for church Sunday morning. But are we too busy to shake a hand, make eye contact, and connect beyond the common superficial greeting?
“How ya’ doin’?”
“Fine, how ‘bout you?”
“OK, have a great week.”
Mercy, that’s pathetic. And it is a scene reproduced in countless gatherings across the nation. I challenge you to be different. It won’t be easy, and we have our work cut out for us.
Here’s a review of our assignment.
- Love one another.
- Be kind to one another.
- Serve one another.
- Consider one another.
- Seek good for one another.
- Greet one another.