One Another

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February 3, 2014 | No comments yet

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by:  Staci Stallings

I was reading the other day, and I came across a couple of words I hadn’t ever really thought about the way the authors presented them.

The two words:  ”one another.”

According to the authors, the Hebrew word used in the original is the same one that our word “reciprocal” comes from.  Reciprocal, reciprocity–the idea that the good is mutually beneficial to both parties.  Basically what we now refer to as a win-win situation.

It’s not a one-way street.  It’s a two-way street with each contributing to the other.

Let’s look at some verses where this “one another” concept is used.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

John 13:34 ”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Now, maybe this will sound strange to you, but I have never really thought of these verses in terms of reciprocity.  I have, instead, interpreted them as “others” instead of “one another.”

For example, “Therefore, encourage others…”  Meaning that the encouraging was supposed to be from me and stated as a command (or a demand, as I used to think), this verse would come out in the filters of my spirit something like this, “Put yourself last and be encouraging to everyone no matter what it costs you or what they do back to you.  Give encouragement to others or else!”

Maybe that sounds harsh to you.  It certainly felt harsh in my spirit.

Worse, I have seen other Christians laboring under this false impression.  In their calculus, if someone else is hurting, it is both their responsibility to fix it AND their responsibility of why the person got there in the first place.

In fact, I saw a sign at a church one day that said, “Put God first, Others second, and Me last.”

That sounds good.  It sounds holy, but is it?

Is that really what the Bible teaches–that we are supposed to (are required to) give and give and give with no reciprocity at all?

Of course, there is the converse to this idea–the takers.  Those who show up late, do as little as possible, and leave early so you’re stuck with preparations and clean-up!

Sometimes when we start to feel “used up,” we become very “fair” minded.  ”I will do this for you, but you’d better do that for me.”  Some people call this “keeping score.”

Now I don’t know about you, but in my experience, none of these work for very long.  If you keep doing and doing and doing and doing, and never get anything back, the other person will run you dry.

It is equally true that you can’t do everything for everybody.  Each person has to take responsibility for their own life.  You can help.  You can encourage.  You can love.  But ultimately, their life is their choice… not yours!

So, where does that leave us?

I think it’s very important as maturing Christians that we understand how not to get to spiritual burnout by doing everything for everybody and carrying all the loads.  We need to realize that will never work.  Therefore, we need a new plan (and in some places, we need that new plan NOW and in a BIG way!).

What does this “new plan” look like?

Well, I think it does start with you.  You cannot go into a relationship even with a fellow Christian expecting them to know and understand all of this because they probably don’t.  It’s not how we’ve been taught.  So it’s important to know that at first, it might be “encourage others.”For Real Ad

Second it’s important to note that with some people, this is going to be a one-way street.  They might never gain the spiritual legs to be able to make the relationship reciprocal.

But that SHOULD NOT BE THE GOAL!  It is not the goal St. Paul was speaking of.

The goal is a mutual relationship where each person in the relationship contributes to the good of the whole.  A Christian relationship should never devolve into one person doing everything.

I heard a caller on Dave Ramsey the other day.  It was a young woman with two small children.  Her husband (they were married) worked, and that was it.  All of their funds were separate.  He paid for the house, and that was pretty much it.  She paid the other bills from her job, took care of the kids, the schedules, etc.  This is NOT a workable situation.  Dave said, “And let me guess, he’s fine with it.”  To which she said, “Well, yeah. He says he doesn’t see why anything has to change because it’s working.”

When you begin to think in terms of “one another,” one of the things you have to ask is this:  Is this relationship working for BOTH people?  If it’s not, something needs to change.

I’ll talk a bit more about this next time, so stay tuned!


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