The “One Another” study focuses on the proper relationship between Christians and how they are to treat each other in Christ. The phrase “one another” is used 43 times in the New Testament text. This study will examine God’s command in how Christians are to treat and behavior with “one another.” In a time of the year when people are to be thankful, Christians should be considering each other (Gal. 6:10).
Every Christian should have a regular practice of being thankful in their lives. Take time to count one’s blessings while driving to work, while lying in bed before drifting to sleep, tell someone they are doing a good job, send someone an appreciation card, let it become part of one’s daily prayer. Allow being thankful to consume the mind! Being thankful rests at the very heart of faithfulness and trust. In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul reveals the actions and mind of what Christians need to have in order to walk in love and faith. Toward the end of his teaching on the matter, the apostle writes, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:20-21). Part of walking in love and faith is “giving thanks for all things unto God.” The natural result of being thankful for all that God has given a person is to show that gratitude. Paul mentions that one such action is “submitting yourselves one to another.” Being thankful to God leads one to being thankful for the church, which leads one to being thankful for the individual members. When Christians count their blessings, their brethren should high on the list.
The salvation to which believers hold so dear and essential to their spiritual survival manifests through their love for God, but not only to God but also the brethren. Peter taught, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23). Notice in verse 22 where Peter explains that part of the purification of the penitents’ souls derive from the “unfeigned love of the brethren…” The faithful’s love for God cannot be hypocritical if they are to be saved or purified. Love for God is hypocritical if such love expresses a verbal love for God and shows no love for the brethren. John writes of how Christians are to love God without hypocrisy in this manner, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). Learning to love the brethren helps one understand the kind of love required to love God.
The study of the Christian’s relationship with the brethren reflects a major understanding of the believer’s spiritual life. As the aforementioned passages from John explain, how can members of the church truly and honestly love God who they do not see, if they cannot love people that they do see? When one is faced with the bare and unadorned image and character of someone else and learns to love them for who they are, rather than who they want them to be, then Christians have begun their journey in understanding how to love God.
Numerous people in the world claim to love God, but if they were faced with the true image and nature of God, the majority of people that say they love God would reject Him (Rom. 10:1-3). The majority of people will only love God if they can see God as they want to imagine Him (Matt. 22:14). People will preach a Christ or God of love, mercy, clemency, and even all-tolerance, but true Christians know and understand that God is both merciful and severe in judgment (Rom. 11:22). God will bring a hell-fire vengeance against those who “obey not the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). The majority of the world will not accept a strict but fair God of judgment. The collective world culture only accepts an all-tolerant and all-accepting God of judgment. If people cannot learn to love another person without creating a false image of what the other person is or what they want the other person to be, then they will never be able to love God for who He really is (1 John 4:20). When a person can learn to have an open relationship with another person and understand the other person for who they are, then a person has built the foundation for their relationship with God. This is the principle on which John writes the verse, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen” (1 John 4:20)? Learning how to love people who think, function, and live in a variety of different ways in the Lord, helps any Christian learn how to love and trust a God that they may not always comprehend.