Updated: May 5, 2018
"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." (Romans 12:10)
How we treat others reveals what we believe about God and who we believe God to be. When a follower of Jesus is generous, it often is because they believe and understand God to be generous. If someone is willing to forgive others, it is because they know how God forgave them (and continues to). Believers are kind to others because God has first revealed His kindness to them. The way we view and treat others is often a direct reflection of how we perceive the character and nature of God.
Some of the most important verses in the New Testament contain the words "one another." Why are those verses so important? The gospel is not only intended to change our relationship with God, but also our relationships with people. God is highly concerned with how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. He is highly concerned about how we treat our families. He is highly concerned about how we treat non-believers. His concern comes from several places:
He cares about people! The Lord wants each person He made to be treated with dignity, respect, and love. Every person is made in His image and has significant value simply because they exist.
It reflects God's character and nature to the world. When we are argumentative, hostile, and unpleasant, the world starts to assume the God we serve is like that as well. It can also work the opposite way. Our kindness shows the world that God is kind; our love points others to God's love; when we are trustworthy, it reflects God's trustworthiness. Much is at stake concerning the way believers treat one-another and the unbelieving world.
Some will struggle in this area more than others. If we are being honest, some people just have a friendlier disposition and personality. Kindness comes natural to some and takes great effort from others. We all have bad days where we mistreat one another, but for some of us, obeying the one another commands in Scripture is a hurdle we will find ourselves stumbling over repeatedly. And there are certainly many reasons why; there are many contributing factors. How someone was treated early in life, your personality, and even how one feels physically make a difference in how we treat others. But I want to suggest another reason why some may find themselves mistreating those around them--they don't know who God is.
I'm not talking about someone being unsaved (although that has to be considered if someone ignores how they treat others). I'm talking about the gospel not being deeply rooted in a person's heart. When we know God and His nature--His love, His kindness, His graciousness, His compassion, His mercy--we will find ourselves naturally treating others with those same attributes. We will extend to others what God has so freely extended to us. When we mistreat others habitually, our real problem is not that we are simply grumpy people. Our problem is that who God is hasn't permeated and reached the deep places of our hearts. Embracing the gospel is not simply agreeing intellectually with the truthfulness of its' claims. It is also embracing the implications it has on our life. And according to the New Testament, most of those implications deal with how we treat others.
What is Left Out
Rather than list all the one another commands that are found in Scripture, let's take a second to think about the ones that are left out of Scripture. For example, shame one another, embarrass one another, manipulate one another, use one another, criticize one another, interrupt one another, control one another's lives, pressure one another,...
The world has enough of that. Let's not add to it. As the body of Christ, let's resolve to show the world who God is by the way we treat one another!