Tag Archives: One Another

Establishing Value

I had the privilege of preaching again this past Sunday. As I read the words of one of the scripture passages one verse leaped out at me. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)

Wow! How relevant! I could easily and accurately apply these words to our societal and political milieu. And that’s tempting. But the reality is Paul wrote these words to a Christian congregation. So while they made have broader application, the primary message is for Christians. That’s sobering – and challenging.

In his letter to the Philippian church Paul went into more detail. He condemned biting and criticism: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) Paul understood that our human tendency is to criticize others to make ourselves feel better and even superior. We do so because we fail to value others. The Bible is very clear on this issue. “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him, speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12)

Then there are Jesus’ pointed words in Matthew 7:1-5 – “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Understanding that humility is not thinking less of ourselves but rather thinking more of others, Paul continued: “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:4) Conflict often results from being insensitive to the needs of others, so Paul says we are to value, to relish consideration of others. We need to scope out and hone in on the needs of others. Our aim is always to zero in on ministering and serving.

Let me ask you something: Could you name the five greatest needs of your spouse? Your children? Your parents? Your coworkers? Your school mate? How considerate are you? Consider how Paul’s words are translated in The Message: “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

OUR PATTERN IS JESUS CHRIST. The great preacher Harry Ironside put it poignantly. “The last word of this section is the keynote—“others.” This was the overpowering, dominating note in the life of our Lord on earth, and because of this He died. “He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for”—others! He lived for others; He died for others. Selfishness He knew not. Unselfish devotion for the good of others summed up His whole life, and all in subjection to the Father’s will. For God, the Father Himself, lives, reverently be it said, for others. He finds His delight, His joy, in lavishing blessing on others. He pours His rain, and sends His sunshine upon the just and the unjust alike. He gave His Son for others; and having not withheld His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not with Him also freely give us all things?—we, who are included in the others for whom the Lord Jesus Christ endured so much. What wonder then that, if we would follow His steps, we find ourselves called upon to live for others, and even to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1)

What would happen if we really valued others, did unto others as we would have them do unto us? What would our church, our families, our schools, our communities be like if we did to others what Jesus did to us? Just how are we to treat one another? The Bible points the way as it lists a multitude of “One Another’s.” LOVE one another. ACCEPT one another. SERVE one another in love. PRAY FOR one another. ENCOURAGE one another. FORGIVE one another. HONOR one another above yourself. AGREE WITH one another. BE KIND AND COMPASSIONATE TO one another.
BE DEVOTED TO one another in brotherly love. LIVE IN HARMONY WITH one another. BEAR WITH one another in love. CONFESS YOUR SINS TO one another. CARRY one another’s burdens. SUBMIT TO one another out of reverence for Christ. SPUR one another on towards love and good deeds. OFFER HOSPITALITY TO one another without grumbling. CLOTHE YOURSELVES WITH HUMILITY TOWARD one another. BE COMPETENT TO INSTRUCT one another. USE YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO SERVE one another. SPEAK TO one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. GREET one another with a holy kiss.

What would our church, our families, our schools, our communities be like if we diligently worked at establishing the value of others? It’s worth thinking about – and doing.

(1) Ironside, H. A. (1922). Notes on the Epistle to the Philippians (pp. 37–38). Loizeaux Brothers: Neptune, NJ.

Note: The substance of this blog comes from Pastor Curry’s sermon “United We Stand.” If interested in a copy or an mp3 contact [email protected]

It’s All About…

What a 4 days it was. As part of my Sabbatical my wife and I had an opportunity to attend a Pastor-Spouse retreat. Hosted and paid for by WinShape the purpose of the retreat was to provide those who served others an opportunity to be served. It was 4 days of being pampered in northwest Georgia. Our orders in fact were basically ‘Relax. Don’t do anything that smells like work. And whatever you need, ask for it – don’t get or do it yourself.’ At mealtimes we were chastised if we so much as picked up a napkin we dropped or in any way tried to serve ourselves.

It took some adjustment. I remember thinking about the discomfort of the disciples when Jesus knelt down and washed their feet. I began to understand their reactions. Somehow it doesn’t feel righto let someone else do all the serving – not when I am supposed to be the server. But as I adjusted and relaxed, my emotions shifted. Once I allowed myself to be served, I felt humbled, uplifted, accepted, cared for, and loved. No wonder Jesus wouldn’t let Peter avoid having his feet washed. He needed the experience of being humbled, uplifted, accepted, cared for, and loved. It profoundly changes a person.

We left the retreat fully transformed. But I observed something else just as powerful. I saw the countenance of those who did the serving. They radiated pure joy. They expressed a heavenly delight in everything they said and did. I eventually understood why. In serving others we are most like Jesus. John records that after washing the disciples’ feet Jesus “… put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. ” (John 13:12-16)

the-washing-of-the-feet

Here it is again – ‘one another.’ To be like Jesus is to wash one another’s feet. It means to serve one another.  Paul caught it. He wrote, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NLT) To serve is to provide for another, to give to another what they need. It means willingly taking the focus off of ourselves and zeroing in on others. It’s not just saying but living out the principle that it’s not about me – it’s all about you.

What would your life look like if you approached everyone you encounter with an attitude of “What can I do for you?” And then did it? How would our churches, our families, our neighborhoods look? I can’t say for sure but wouldn’t it be great to find out? What I do know for sure is this promise of Jesus: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17) You will radiate pure joy and express a heavenly delight in everything you say and do.

*Picture from James Tissot - Public Domain

Proper Clothes

The “One Another” phrases in the New Testament have really been

Consumers shopping for clothes

on my mind. Perhaps it’s because not a day goes by without headlines of someone demeaning, or seeking to destroy someone else – all to prove superiority. But the Bible offers a stark contrast, even as it tells us how to dress for one another. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

So how do we ‘clothe ourselves with humility?’ We dress up with the clothes of Jesus – we become like Him. It’s what Paul had in mind when in Philippians 2 he painted a picture of what Jesus’ humility looks like. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:3-8).

Peter clarified it even further when he summarized Jesus’ life: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power…he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). We clothe ourselves with humility, we become like Jesus by doing good. The fact is that the New Testament is full of comments about and commendations for doing good.

  • “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.” (Luke 9:36).
  • “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” (Romans 2:7)
  • “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  • “In everything set them an example by doing what is good…Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good…And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone…Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” (Titus 2:7, 3:1, 3:8, 3:14).
  • “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:12, 15).

We have the power to do good works. God’s nature – Jesus’ nature – is in our spiritual DNA. Paul, in Ephesians 2:10, made it very clear: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” We are God’s workmanship: His work of art, created to do good works. We are to do what we have been created to do – dress up with humility through doing good works towards others. It means to live less for our own selves and more for others – to live a life of selfless service and ceaseless sacrifice. Such clothing may not make the headlines – but it will make a difference. Let’s make every day a Jesus dress up day!

***From my book ‘7 Habits of Highly Healthy People.’

 

 

A Code of Honor

 

beautiful view of Maldives Island from airplane window

As my fellow staff member and boarded the plane he pulled a switch. When he ordered the tickets for our trip to the conference he, unknown to me, used his air credits to get himself a first-class seat. He never mentioned it until we boarded – then he gave me his seat and he went back to my seat in coach. He wanted me, at least for a while, to experience the luxury of extra room and service. I was dumbfounded and deeply moved. I tried to argue with him – although not too hard – but he was not about to change his mind. So I graciously accepted his precious gift.

I gained an even deeper appreciation for a man I already respected. As I later reflected on his gesture I realized this graciousness was part of who he was. He understood what it meant to give honor to another and found great satisfaction in doing so. And because of that one gesture I gained a clearer understanding of Paul’s admonition to “outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10 RSV) It’s one of 59 occurrences in the New Testament of the phrase ‘one another.’ I think it’s the most intriguing and unique. It’s one of the very few times, perhaps the only time, we are told to outdo someone else. But what a concept it is. I wonder how different our world would be if we truly tried to outdo one another in conferring respect and esteem on one another. I suspect the difference would be like night and day.

Think about it – what would showing honor to your spouse look like? To your children? To your co-workers or employees? To your boss? To that person who annoys or opposes you? How can you confer respect and esteem upon them? I know this – they will be uplifted and so will you.

Can you imagine what a world of ‘honor competition’ would look like? Paul envisioned it. He thought it was worth writing about. So I believe it’s worth thinking about. So why not join the competition?