“We Are Members of One Another” (Part 2)
Last week we began, and this week we continue, looking at some of the benefits we enjoy and some responsibilities that we have in the local church due to the fact that “we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25; Romans 12:4-5). As we interact with one another in the ways prescribed in these passages, it will enable the local church to function effectively and to grow spiritually.
“Serve One Another”
As members of one another, we are to “through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.” (Galatians 5:13-14). Paul’s primary concern in this passage focuses on the relationships we have with one another. Five times, in the immediate context, he uses the “one another” concept. The first is the positive exhortation for saints to “through love serve one another” (vs 13). But Paul stated the other four negatively in order to clarify his teaching: “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (vs 15); “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (vs 26). Biting and devouring, provoking and envying one another are acts of selfishness just as all the “works of the flesh” (vs 19-21) are acts of selfishness; these acts are the opposite of what Paul means by our need to “through love serve one another.” Showing forth the “fruit of the Spirit” (vs 22-23) in our relationships with one another is how we “through love serve one another.” Is there “love” (seeking the best interest of others) being expressed among one another? Are there evidences of “joy” and happiness? Is there “peace”, oneness and unity? Are we being “longsuffering” (patient) with each other? Are we showing “kindness” in our actions, words and attitudes? Are we demonstrating “goodness” in concrete acts rather than only words? Are we “faithful” rather than untrustworthy or undependable? Are we demonstrating “gentleness” and sensitivity in our relationships with each other? Is there “self-control” in our conversations and general life-style? Affirmative answers to these questions would indicate that we are unselfishly serving one another in love. Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, that you also love one another” (John 13:34-35).
“Confess Your Trespasses to One Another and Pray for One Another”
As members of one another, we are admonished to “confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another” (James 5:16). We should consider it a great privilege to have help from fellow-saints when we fall into sin. If we are struggling with some sin in our life, what better way to have help in overcoming it than by incorporating the help of others striving to live righteously. In the context, we see that we can pray for one another’s physical healing as well as our spiritual healing.
“Forgiving One Another”
As members of one another, we are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-13). Paul teaches us to forgive those who have repented “lest Satan take advantage of us” (See 2 Corinthians 2:6-11). If we remain bitter toward someone and refuse to forgive them, Satan will take advantage of us just as he will take advantage of the unforgiven one who can become “swallowed up with too much sorrow.” While forgiving one another “just as God in Christ also forgave you” may be difficult, it is what is commanded of us. God has shown His sacrificial love for us by forgiving us; we show sacrificial love to one another by our willingness to forgive.
“Bearing with One Another”
As members of one another, we are to be “bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). This means we are to be tolerant toward other Christians; to patiently endure their peculiarities and weaknesses. In Colossians 3:12-13, “bearing with one another” is connected with “forgiving one another,” and in Ephesians 4:2-3 we see it is key to maintaining unity among brethren. Not one of us is perfect; all of us fail, particularly in human relationships. Sometimes we expect more from others than we expect from ourselves and we grow impatient with one another; instead “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering” we should be “bearing with one another in love.”
“Admonish One Another”
As members of one another, we are to “admonish one another” (Romans 15:14). The word “admonish” means “to put in mind, to warn or instruct;” it does not refer to casual communication or a normal type of teaching, but implies a definite exhortation, correction and warning. Paul complimented the saints at Rome by letting them know he was thoroughly convinced that they were “able to admonish one another.” Paul spelled out why he felt this way. First, they were “full of goodness”; Paul expressed confidence in their basic spirituality, in their progress in development as Christians, and in their righteous and upright lives. In other words, these Christians were “able to admonish one another” because they were living holy, Christ-like lives. Paul also commends these at Rome for being “filled with all knowledge.” The second requirement for being able to admonish others is an adequate knowledge of God’s word. “Admonishing one another” must be based upon God’s specific will and ways; not on what we think others should, or should not, be doing.
“Consider One Another”
As members of one another, we are to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Regularly, faithfully assembling with one another is how God expects us to fulfill our responsibilities to “consider one another” and “exhort one another”; it is how we stir up love for one another and encourage one another in the good works God has assigned for us. The blessings of the local church, and assembling with one another in the local church, are beyond compare with anything that man might come up with to encourage us. As “members of one another” in the local church, let’s all interact with “one another” in the ways God has outlined for our spiritual and eternal well-being. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:28).