by Jo Umberger, VP, NewLife Behavior International
Author Richard C. Meyer has written three books on a concept termed “one anothering.” The idea implies that the “one another” passages in the Bible provide opportunities for Christians to do something for each other. While creative in nature, the thought certainly is rooted in truth.
The phrase “one another” occurs 100 times in the New Testament. It is used at least 13 times to convey why and how we are to “love one another.”¹ Four times we are instructed to “greet one another with a holy kiss” or a “kiss of love.”² Galatians 5:13 tells us to “serve one another humbly in love.”
Christians are to “encourage one another” regarding our confidence that we will live with Christ after this life is over (1 Thessalonians. 4:18) and to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians. 5:11). Hebrews 3:13 provides more insight into at least one of the purposes of this concept by saying, “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
There are many purposes for encouraging one another and many ways to do so. For example, we are to encourage one another is by “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:19). Additional purposes are detailed in Colossians 3:16 where Paul writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
As a sharp contrast to the world’s way of treating people, Christians are given instructions on how to treat one another in a way that glorifies God. “Be devoted to one another in love” and “Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10). “Serve one another humbly in love,” as Galatians 5:13 tells us and “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” as 1 Peter 5:5 says.
Over the past year, Christians around the world have had to resort to new ways of practicing the “one another” passages. While we have been and are thankful for technology, the situation also served to help us realize the importance of encouraging one another face-to-face.
Even before the pandemic, scientific research indicated negative effects of the lack of socialization, including poor self-esteem, depression, losing a strong grasp of reality, decreased ability to learn, decreased sense of empathy, reduced resilience, health risks and even a shorter life span.³
Because God made us, He certainly knows all our needs – spiritually, physically and emotionally. Perhaps that’s why the Holy Spirit says, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24- 25).
Of course each person must prayerfully decide when it is wise to resume meeting with the church. Oh! Meeting together is such a blessing! It allows us many more “one anothering” opportunities so that we can bless others in ways that can’t be accomplished through a screen and others can bless us as well.
Let us do whatever it takes to spur one another on, love one another, greet one another warmly, serve one another, teach and admonish one another through various types of music, honor one another, and encourage one another.
Give us wisdom and love, dear Lord!
All passages are from the New International Version.
¹ John 13:34, John 13:35, Romans 13:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Hebrews 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Peter 3:8, 1 John 3:11 ,1 John 3:23. 1 John 4:7. 1 John 4:11, 1 John 4:12, 2 John 1:5
² Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Peter 5:14
³ “11 Negative Effects of Lack of Socializing.” PTSD Journal, 5 Dec. 2016, www.ptsdjournal.com/posts/11-negative-effects-of-lack-of-socializing/. Retrieved 4 June 2021.