I am reminded once again that living with children is a never-ending effort to help them learn how to treat other people:
“What do you say?” “Please.” “Thank you.” “I’m sorry.” “Let’s share.”
It doesn’t come naturally for people—we have to be taught.
Scripture is filled with instructions on how we are to relate to other people. Romans 12 especially focuses on how we treat the “one anothers” in our lives.
Here are five key relationship encouragers:
1. Love one another.
Romans 12:9,10a: Love must be sincere…. Be devoted to one another in love.
Jesus told us we should love God and others. Paul says our love must be sincere—genuine, without hypocrisy, the real thing. Real love is unconditional: You can’t earn it, you can’t lose it, you can’t stop it and you don’t have to return it.
Of course, when it’s real love, you want to receive it and return it.
2. Prefer one another
Romans 12:10b,16: Honor one another above yourselves…. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Not just “honor one another” but “above yourselves.” How much we are willing to put the interests or recognition of others above our own speaks loudly about our pride or humility. Do we care who gets the credit? Is the most popular? Are we happy when others do well?
3. Serve one another
Romans 12:11-13: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Jesus reminded us on the night before he died for us that He was our Lord and our Teacher, but also that He was a servant. He reminded us that we should follow His example and serve others—and that we would be blessed if we do.
I am so grateful for—and a little envious of—those with serving gifts. I am truly blessed by their service, but I wish it came so easily for me to serve.
My experience is that God will give us plenty of opportunities to practice and grow.
4. Bless one another
Romans 12:14,15,17: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
I used to think “blessing” was kind of old fashioned, for little old ladies. Notwithstanding my age, I now think it is one of the most important things I do. It’s great to “be a blessing to someone,” but even better to be intentional about blessing others.
The hardest and best is to bless your enemies—those who hate, or mistreat, or hurt or even just irritate you. Bless them.
5. Be at peace with one another
Romans 12:16,18: Live in harmony with one another…. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Watching children helps us to see how easy it is to be at odds with someone else. The slightest little thing leads to anger or tears. Unfortunately, we are often not very different from children.
So many times I have said to my children—and to myself: You can’t control what others do or say. You can only control yourself.
And in that choice, we can make the difference between war and peace.
Jesus sums up how we should treat the “one anothers” in our lives two other ways:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Treat others the way I did—laying down my life for them.
I am so grateful He sent His Spirit to live in me and enable me to live in this challenging, selfless way with the people of my life.
Which of these “one another” instructions is the most challenging for you?
c2012 Judy Douglass