[Editor's note: This is a follow-up to the article "One-anothering: Things not to do"]
Now – let’s look at six positive “one-anothering” practices we can put into place.
This verse seems pretty self-explanatory. Did you know that we are responsible to help each other, and we are also responsible to let others help us? There is another verse that might APPEAR to say just the opposite, but in truth, the two fit together perfectly. In Galatians 6:5, Paul tells us that “each will have to bear his OWN load.” We cannot save each other, or bear each others’ sins– we are responsible for our own actions– but we can certainly help to carry each other’s OVERburdens in life. God told us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will not give us more TEMPTATION than we can bear, but here in Galatians 6:2 he commands us to help each other with other types of burdens.
I heard a ladies’ day speaker use this illustration once: you’re at the lake, and you see a group of ducklings gliding across the water. They look so calm and tranquil. But if you could look under the water, guess what you’ll see? You’d see their little feet paddling 100 miles an hour. Do you think Christians may be like that at times? They look like they’ve got it all together – not a care or struggle in sight. But they may be fighting for their very souls not to get dragged back into sin. Or they may be so discouraged and feel like their burden is just too much to bear.
2. COMFORT ONE ANOTHER.
1 Thessalonians 4:18 -“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
We are told to comfort each other with these words – what words? This is a verse that we won’t understand unless we read the preceding verses. The Thessalonians were concerned about the faithful people who had already died. What will happen to them when Jesus comes back? Paul tells them not to worry about them – they will be with the Lord when he comes for the rest of his faithful. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
And then comes the “one anothering” verse that was read: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” These Christians were told here to talk about the Last Day, and to comfort (or encourage) each other with these conversations. It is my opinion that we need more time with each other just talking about spiritual things. Let’s talk about the joy of being Christians! Let’s talk about how God is working in our lives! Let’s talk about the latest “nugget” that we found in God’s Word! Let’s talk about getting ready for heaven! Let’s comfort one another with our words!
3. & 4. CONFESS OUR SINS TO AND PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER.
James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
It is such a comfort to know that others are in the same boat as we are! We have so much to offer each other. We should have no fear in sharing our shortcomings or our latest “I fell-flat-on-my-face” moments with each other. I may have been through some things that you haven’t yet gone through. And you may have been through struggles that I cannot even imagine having to endure. What a help we can be for each other. We are to be each others’ mothers, older sisters, and grandmothers in the Lord ready to help with a listening ear, with a hug, and–if needed– some sound advice.
Our verse also says to pray for one another – God knew we would need this bit of comfort, didn’t He? Let us, as James instructs, be willing to confess our faults to one another. Doing so will accomplish two things: it will keep us humble and it will give others the opportunity to pray for us.
To exhort means to urge strongly. Here, we are told to exhort one another everyday. Are we constantly encouraging each other to live for Jesus? Do we encourage each other with words like, “keep up the good work!”, or “I’m so proud of you for living right!” Listen to how Barnabas exhorted the new Gentile Christians in Acts 11:23. “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.” Listen to how Paul exhorted the Thessalonian christians in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” In today’s busy world, we may not see each other every day, but we can still exhort and encourage each other often. We can CALL and send each other NOTES of encouragement. And in this electronic age, we can urge each other on everyday through E-MAILS if we have the desire to do so!
Notice the end of our verse gives the reason for exhorting one another: “that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We can be a great source of strength for each other in our daily fight against sin. We all need to be exhorted to keep on keeping on. We all need to be encouraged to stand our ground against the wiles of the devil. The Bible tells us that when we exhort one another day by day, we can help keep each other on the road to heaven.
6. FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER.
Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 – “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
These two verses teach us that we must forgive one another because we have been forgiven. What horrible thing can anyone do to us that even compares to what we did to God while we were still living in sin? And yet, Jesus took the punishment for all of our sins, so that we wouldn’t have to. He bore the weight of all the world’s sins when he died for us. It’s hard to forgive sometimes, but God will help you, and your Christian family will help you! What a beautiful word: forgiven. We have been forgiven of so much! As godly women, let us readily offer forgiveness to one another.
With these six “one-anothering” practices, we learn to bear one another’s burdens, comfort one another, confess to and pray for one another, exhort one another and forgive one another. Just imagine how our garden of fellowship would bloom with these practices in place!
By Jennifer Jensen
Jennifer lives in sunny California. She is married to a Gospel preacher and homeschools her two teenaged daughters.