OUR CHRISTIAN DUTY TO EACH OTHER

The New Testament has a lot to say about our responsibilities to one another. One day, while reading through the Epistles from Romans to Jude, I decided to make a list of all the things God commanded us to do to, for, or toward, one another. The resultant list left me stunned. I had no idea how exhaustive and specific God was in providing for the unity, peace, and well-being of His people. For organizational clarity I listed these responsibilities under the three broad headings of attitude, conversation, and conduct. I share this list with you hoping you’ll see the content and extent of our responsibilities to one another. When viewed in light of these responsibilities, we come to understand in a very real and lasting way that our Christian life is not about us doing whatever we want to do. It’s not about us living however which way we want to live. Perhaps for the very first time, we come to the realization that our life is to be spent in consideration of the brethren and in loving service to them. As you read through the following list, may God help you see what I saw and may your life forever be changed by it.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY IN ATTITUDE, DISPOSITION, AND SPIRIT TOWARD EACH OTHER

LOVE ONE ANOTHER:

  • Beloved, let us love one another, 1 John 4:7. See also 3:11, 3:23, Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:8-10.
  • Follow after love, 1 Corinthians 14:1.
  • Provoke one another unto love, Hebrews 10:24.
  • Abound in love, 1 Thessalonians 3:12. See also 4:9-10.
  • Be knit together in love, Colossians 2:2.
  • Let brotherly love continue, Hebrews 13:1.
  • Let love be without dissimulation, Romans 12:9.
  • Love with a pure heart fervently, 1 Peter 1:22.
  • Have fervent love among yourselves, 1 Peter 4:8.
  • Love in deed or works, 1 John 3:18.
  • Don’t hate your brethren, 1 John 2:9. See also 3:15, 4:8.

BE COMPASSIONATE TOWARD EACH OTHER:

  • Be kindly affectioned with brotherly love, Romans 12:10.
  • Have the same care one for another, 1 Corinthians 12:25.
  • Be kind one to another, Ephesians 4:32. See also Colossians 3:12.
  • Be tenderhearted one to another, Ephesians 4:32.
  • Be pitiful, 1 Peter 3:8.
  • Be courteous, 1 Peter 3:8.
  • Have compassion one for another, 1 Peter 3:8.
  • Be compassionate, Jude 22.
  • Be hospitable, Romans 12:13. See also Hebrews 13:2, 3 John 5.
  • Show mercy with cheerfulness, Romans 12:8.

PREFER, ESTEEM, AND CONSIDER ONE ANOTHER:

  • In honour prefer one another, Romans 12:10.
  • Let each esteem the other better than himself, Philippians 2:3.
  • Consider one another, Hebrews 10:24.

SUBMIT YOURSELF ONE TO ANOTHER:

  • Submit yourself one to another, Ephesians 5:21.
  • Be subject one to another, 1 Peter 5:5.

FORBEAR YOUR BRETHREN:

  • Forbear one another, Ephesians 4:2. See also Colossians 3:13.
  • Be patient toward all men, 1 Thessalonians 4:15.

DON’T ENVY, STRIVE, OR BE INJURIOUS:

  • Don’t envy or strive, James 3:14-16.
  • Put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, and clamour, Ephesians 4:31.
  • Put off all anger, wrath, malice, Colossians 3:8.
  • Lay aside all malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, 1 Peter 2:1.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY IN SPEAKING TO, AND ABOUT, EACH OTHER

PRAY ONE FOR ANOTHER:

  • Pray one for another, James 5:16.
  • Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.         
  • Pray always with all prayer and supplication, Ephesians 6:18.
  • Watch with all perseverance and supplication for all saints,  Ephesians 6:18.
  • Pray for a brother in sin, 1 John 5:16.

THESE THINGS SPEAK:

  • Speak every man truth with his neighbour, Ephesians 4:25.
  • Speak that which is good to the use of edifying, Ephesians 4:29.
  • Let your speech be always seasoned with salt, Colossians 4:6.
  • Teach and admonish one another, Colossians 3:16. See also 2 Thessalonians 3:15.
  • Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, 2 Timothy 4:2.
  • Reprove the works of darkness, Ephesians 5:11
  • Put the brethren in remembrance of sound doctrine, 1 Timothy 4:6.
  • Comfort one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11. See also 2 Corinthians 1:4.
  • Warn the unruly, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  • Edify one another, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
  • Exhort one another, Hebrews 10:25, 3:13.
  • Confess your faults one to another, James 5:16.

THESE THINGS AVOID:

  • Don’t bite and devour one another, Galatians 5:15. See also 2 Corinthians 12:20b.
  • Put off all blasphemy and filthy communication, Colossians 3:8.
  • Lie not one to another, Colossians 3:9.
  • Speak evil of no man, Titus 3:2.
  • Speak not evil of one another, James 4:11.
  • Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, Ephesians 4:29.
  • Put away all evil speaking, Ephesians 4:31. See also 1 Peter 2:1.
  • Refrain your tongue from evil, 1 Peter 3:10.
  • Refrain your lips that they speak no guile, 1 Peter 3:10.
  • Don’t talk foolishly or of foolish things, Ephesians 5:3.
  • Don’t jest, Ephesians 5:3.
  • Don’t grumble and complain about your brother, James 5:9,  KJV ‘grudge’.
  • Don’t murmur, Philippians 2:14.
  • Don’t dispute, Philippians 2:14.
  • Don’t strive and argue about words, 2 Timothy 2:14. See also Titus 1:10-14.
  • Shun profane and vain babblings, 2 Timothy 2:16. See also 1 Timothy 1:4.
  • Avoid foolish and unlearned questions, 2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY IN TREATING AND DEALING WITH ONE ANOTHER

GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT TOWARD EACH OTHER:

  • Judge not one another, Romans 14:13, 2:1.
  • Let no one judge you in meats and days, Col. 2:16.
  • Follow after the things which make for peace, Romans 14:19.
  • Follow after peace with all men, Hebrews 12:14.
  • Seek after peace and ensue it, 1 Peter 3:11.
  • Be at peace among yourselves, 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
  • As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men, Romans 12:18.
  • Follow that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
  • Edify one another, Romans 14:19.
  • Let every one please his neighbour for his good, Romans 15:2.
  • By love serve one another, Galatians 5:13.
  • Bear ye one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2.
  • Let us do good to all men, especially the brethren, Galatians 6:10. See also 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Hebrews 13:16, Ephesians 2:10, 3 John 5.
  • Be careful to maintain good works, Titus 3:8.
  • Look every man after the things of others, Philippians 2:4. See also 1 Corinthians 10:24.
  • Greet one another with a holy kiss, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 2 Corinthians           13:12, Romans 16:16, 1 Peter 5:14.
  • Let us provoke one another unto love, Hebrews 10:24.
  • Let us provoke one another unto good works, Hebrews 10:24.
  • Have no respect of persons, James 2:2-9.
  • Do nothing by partiality or prejudice, 1 Timothy 5:21.
  • Don’t compare yourself with yourselves, 2 Corinthians 10:12.
  • Lay your life down for your brethren, 1 John 3:16.
  • Be of the same mind one toward another, Romans 15:5-6. See also Philippians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 3:11, 1 Peter 3:8.
  • Don’t defraud one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:6.
  • Don’t steal, Ephesians 4:28.
  • Don’t covet, Ephesians 5:3.
  • Don’t fornicate among yourselves, Ephesians 5:3
  • Don’t do unclean things among yourselves, Ephesians 5:3.
  • Don’t fellowship or participate in doing sinful things, Ephesians 5:11.

SPECIFIC PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT TOWARD THE WEAK:

  • Receive those who are weak in the faith, Romans 14:1.
  • Do not despise one another, Romans 14:3.
  • Do not put a stumblingblock in your brother’s way, Romans 14:13.
  • Give none offence, 1 Corinthians 10:32.
  • Don’t offend and sin against the brethren, Romans 14:21. See also 1 Corinthians 8:9-13.
  • Don’t set your brother at nought, Romans 14:10.
  • Bear the infirmities of the weak, Romans 15:1.
  • Support the weak, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  • Comfort the feeble-minded, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

SPECIFIC PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT TOWARD BRETHREN IN SIN OR WRONG:

  • Mark them and avoid them, Romans 16:17, ‘them’ specified.
  • Don’t keep company with a brother in sin, 1 Corinthians 5:11, sin specified.
  • Deliver the sinning fornicator over to Satan, 1 Corinthians 5:4-5.
  • Warn the unruly, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
  • Admonish the unruly as a brother, 2 Thessalonians 3:15.
  • Withdraw yourself from the unruly brother, 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14.
  • Convert your erring brother, James 5:19-20. See also Jude 23.
  • Don’t retaliate, 1 Thessalonians 5:15. See also 1 Peter 3:9.
  • Don’t take your brother to secular courts, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.
  • Suffer yourself to be wronged or defrauded, 1 Corinthians 6:7.

SPECIFIC PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT TOWARD THE REPENTANT:

  • Restore those overtaken in a fault, Galatians 6:1.
  • Forgive one another, Ephesians 4:32.
  • Comfort and confirm your love towards the repentant, 2 Corinthians 2:7-8.

SPECIFIC PRINCIPLES OF CONDUCT TOWARD THE NEEDY:

  • Visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, James 1:27.
  • Give to the needy, James 2:15-16. See also 1 John 3:17.
  • Distribute to the necessity of saints, Romans 12:13. See also 2 Corinthians 8-9.
  • Abound in giving, 2 Corinthians 8:7.
  • Give liberally, Romans 12:8, KJV ‘simplicity’.

WHAT THESE RESPONSIBILITIES TELL US

We see by this list of responsibilities that God is truly concerned for His church. There are over 100 responsibilities listed and over 150 verses cities. I’m still not all sure that I’ve gleaned every verse and responsibility given in the Epistles. Even more sobering is the additional number of responsibilities and verses from the Gospel accounts that must be added to the list if we wish to be truly comprehensive and exhaustive in noting all of the responsibilities and obligations we have toward each other. What I’m trying to get at is this: THE NUMBERS TELL US SOMETHING. THEY TELL US, BY THE CONTENT AND EXTENT OF IT ALL, THAT GOD HAS MADE SWEEPING PROVISIONS FOR THE UNITY AND EDIFICATION OF THE CHURCH. He’s concerned enough about the church that He’s given us all the wisdom and insight necessary to effect the love, peace, and welfare of the church. The question is, Do we value the welfare of our local church as much as God does?

If you read through these passages of Scripture you will see that our fulfillment of these responsibilities isn’t conditioned upon our brethren’s fulfillment of these same responsibilities towards us: it isn’t dependent on their reciprocal action towards us. We’re supposed to treat the brethren the way God showed us to treat them in this list–even if they’re not doing the same towards us. In other words, just because a brother or sister may not be loving towards us doesn’t  mean we’re absolved  from the necessity of being loving towards them. Just because someone is spreading lies about us doesn’t mean we can do the same to them. God will deal with the offending brethren. But in the meantime, it’s our responsibility to be faithful and obedient to God and conduct ourselves as Christians before our brethren. Regardless  of  how   the   brethren  may   treat  us,  we’re   nonetheless  still obligated to obey God and be gracious to them. This is what non-retaliation and the golden rule are all about (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Matthew 7:12).

The fulfillment of our responsibilities to one  another takes work: it requires our effort, time, and attention. If you go through the list you will notice that the verb in just about every verse listed is an active verb: it’s we who do the action. We follow. We strive. We seek. We give. We prefer. We forgive. And the like. Do you know what this says? It says that THE PEACE AND WELFARE OF THE CHURCH DOESN’T COME AUTOMATICALLY. IT DOESN’T COME WITHOUT OUR ACTIVE PARTICIPATION AND INVOLVEMENT. IT TAKES WORK. EVERYONE OF US IN THE CHURCH HAS TO WORK AT GETTING ALONG WITH EACH OTHER AND HELPING ONE ANOTHER OUT. No work, no peace. No work, no edification. And that’s all there is to it. If we’re not individually going to work–that is, work to fulfill these God-given responsibilities that we have towards one another–then we can forget about church and forget about getting together as a church because the church will not be a place of peace, love, and well-being as long as we individually are not contributing and working towards the peace, love, and well-being of everyone else in the church. We all want to be loved and nurtured. We want to live peaceably and amicably with each other. So let us sow the seeds of love and peace and surely we shall reap the same. May God bless you richly and help you fulfill your responsibilities toward the brethren.

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