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Practical Tips for One Anothering

Truth in Love 304

The Bible is practical in how it instructs us to love one another.

Mar 29, 2021

Dale Johnson: Once again, I’m joined on the podcast with my dear friend, Dr. Stuart Scott. He’s a Master’s University Professor of Biblical Counseling, and he’s also on staff here at ACBC. He is our Director of Membership Services. He’s married to Zondra; I love having dinner with you and Zondra—Summer and I are always so encouraged when we walk away from seeing you guys.

Today, we’re going to talk about an exciting and fun concept: The ideas of one anothering. You’ve written a book, not too terribly long ago, on this subject and you’re going to be speaking on this subject in our upcoming conference in October of 2021. I am really looking forward to this because I think people always ask me, “Well, what is the secret sauce when you think about the DNA of a church and what makes a church so kind and so caring?” It’s not so much just us thinking that the one anothers are something that we force ourselves to do—it is an overflow, truly, of a group of people who are covenanted together, who are loving Christ well, and out comes the way in which they prefer each other and love each other. I just want us to talk practically about these one anothers today. There is no magic pill; there is no secret sauce. This is just where the Word, by the power of the Spirit, takes effects in the hearts and lives of people in a community and out comes overflowing these responsibilities of the one anothers.

I love the way that you talk about these in your book. Give us a general overview and then we’ll get very practical in this subject on the one anothers, Stuart. 

Stuart Scott: Thank you, Dale. And again, it’s always a blessing, a joy. I look forward to our times of talking and sharing and conversing. I so appreciate you and the work that you’re doing there at ACBC.

As far as the one anothers, this is just been increasing, the burden for the lack of the expression of them. We might know them—know where they’re found in the Bible—at least 31, up to 35 plus, one anothers. But practicing them—this is where the church, where I believe the Spirit of God within the church, is trying to get us to love God and express it by loving our neighbor. As you said, they’re linked together. You can’t really love God and not love your neighbor. You can’t really love your neighbor well without loving God. Those commandments in Luke 10 that are summing up the Old Testament law are inextricably linked. I think of the passage in 2 Thessalonians where Paul’s addressing them in chapter 1 verse 3, and he says, “we ought always to give thanks to God for you brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” There it is. That’s it! Your faith is really solid, it’s sincere, you’re loving God not just in hearing what He says but doing what He says. Then it says, “and your love for one another increases.” 

I’ve been reading some of the postings on why so many of the young people are leaving churches today. One article had 10 reasons why millennials and below are leaving the church. About eight of the reasons involved the lack of one anothering. Good preaching isn’t going to solve this. I mean good preaching is a start and it is needed, but that’s just the beginning of the knowledge part. You just heard the Word. Now, how do we help one another apply it in our walk with God and our love for one another?

Dale Johnson: That’s right. Good preaching stirs it up, right? It stirs up affections within us to love God well and the overflow of that then is the application and a demonstration of our faith in the way that we love one another. I love the way, in God’s brilliance, He’s built the church to be able to assess and flesh that out, right? How well are we loving God? It’s not just by how low we bend our knees or how tightly we squint our eyes when we pray—those aren’t the assessments. The assessment of true faith is, are we doing this? And is this fleshing out in the way in which we care for one another? What a missing element that we see in the church.

My goodness, if we can’t understand that in the current and present moment when we’ve been distant from one another. I don’t know about you guys, but those who are listening, I’m sure you’re feeling the impact of maybe the lack of some of these one anothers because there was a time where I’ve been in churches where things were done very well and the way in which we cared for one another was very good. Those were sort of the things that we did before Covid, if you will. Let’s talk about some of those things, and then maybe how our caring for one another has been impacted by the pandemic and it builds that longing to desire that intimately once again.

Stuart Scott: I think with the Covid pandemic, it made us rethink, how can we practice these one anothers—how do we care for the body of Christ—when you’re confined or isolated, let’s say in your home? Or if you can’t meet publicly at the church, or how many people can meet and all of the other things. I think the church overall ought to have been called to get creative. God is a God who creates. There is so much variety and so many different expressions in His creation. We’re created in His image. We can become a little more creative rather than saying, “Well, we can’t meet, so we can’t really reach out to people.” No, let’s intentionally plan and think through how can we text, call, go by and leave some gifts for people, make sure the shut-ins are cared for—even if we can’t go inside, we can Zoom call. There are all kinds of ways that many have been practicing. I’m not saying they haven’t been practicing them. But I think we got sort of setback, generally speaking, and weren’t intentional of how do we bear one another’s burdens here, and reach out to people, and practice these. It will take some intentionality and creativity. 

Dale Johnson: Yes, certainly without question, especially when we’re not seeing one another maybe as frequently as we did at one time. Maybe we’re not as aware—and part of that should help us to see that we need to raise awareness of those who are shut in, or those who are sick, or those who are out for various reasons to know ways that we can care for them. What are some of those practical ways, Stuart, as we encounter (to use the word that’s been overused) the unprecedented time of the Covid restrictions? What are some of the ways that churches can engage in this one anothering even in the current time that we find ourself in?

Stuart Scott: When I was talking about being creative, it’s a word in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, where it says see that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. That word seek means to go on the hunt. I need to hunt for ways to practice these one anothers. I need to be thinking, “What might someone need?” A shut-in, someone I haven’t talked with. It really did involve phone calls, texting, Zoom calls, even going by and talking from outside their house. They could open up the door. We sprayed things down, disinfected them. It was thinking outside the typical box before Covid. That word “go on the hunt,” for those who have never hunted—they probably have hunted for Easter eggs at some point in their life, but in hunting you can’t get lazy comfortable. It is inconvenient, it’s sacrificial, but it’s love expressed.

And those are the things that I was thinking as we would continue praying for one another and with the electronic social media, there are ways that you can find what some needs are. Ask, how can we give to meet needs? Our church did really well with keeping up on any of the needs, making them known to the small groups and the small group leaders, and then we would Zoom with our people in our small group and call on them. It just takes more intentional effort outside the typical box that we’re comfortable with.

Dale Johnson: Well, you just mentioned mentioned the word convenience. We don’t often mind meeting needs when it fits a convenient mode. But this is not what the one anothers are describing. I mean, it’s important that we do that when it’s convenient, of course, but we’re talking about more than that. What will these, the practice of these one anothers, require of believers? And in this case, it does take sacrifice. We get out of our box of convenience and we’re intentional. So what are some of the other practical tips there?

Stuart Scott: Sacrificial love means it will be inconvenient. If you’re sacrificially loving, it’s not convenient. It’s planning times to talk and meet, if you meet only when you feel like it, if you call only when you feel like it, it probably won’t get done. It’s putting things on calendars. It’s saying, we’re going to reach out to this couple or this individual. I put it right on my phone to make a phone call to this person, meet with this individual even if it’s over Zoom. When I look at planning, sometimes people don’t like that, they want to be spontaneous. There’s a place for spontaneity, but godliness usually doesn’t come from spontaneity. 

Dale Johnson: Or by accident, right?

Stuart Scott: It’s intentional. It’s exercising yourself unto it. It takes planning, scheduling, getting up early if you need to, staying up later if it is serving other people. All the different venues that we can use. I’m glad they’re starting to open up now and more meetings and more face-to-face is such a blessing.

Dale Johnson: I find ourselves, even in this part of the discussion where we’re trying to plan things, which is absolutely appropriate to be intentional. I like that, where it forces us to think about other people even beforehand, we find ourselves in that tension of what Paul describes in Philippians—that we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, but it’s God who works in us. What are the things that should motivate us to excel in these particular areas? We talk about planning, but there still has to be heart motivation, a desire that’s spurred on toward love and good deeds in this way. Talk about what motivates us. 

Stuart Scott: I think 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, but verse 14 really is the key motivation for us as believers, and that’s the love of Christ. His love for us is what motivates us to love His people, to love the body. It’s not all about me. It’s the body of Christ. How do we really reach out and love them well? As I think about what motivates, even people come to mind and you think, I should call them, I should find out how they’re doing—write them down. Don’t just have a thought and it just escapes, just write them down. And then what day am I going to call them or reach out to them, putting it on paper, putting it on a schedule. “Lord, help me. It’s not all about me.” It’s thinking and preferring them and loving them by getting it down from in your mind—hearing it to doing it. For me, I have to write names down, put them on my calendar, or sometimes put alarms on and that’s what it takes. 

Dale Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. A couple of final thoughts that I want to see if we can elicit from you, which is specific. Let’s get very practical. Some practical tips about this whole business of one anothering. We’ve talked a little bit about being intentional and planning some of these things, which I think we could all use a little bit more discipline in our life to do things like that, because we’re such busy people, but what are some of those specific, practical tips about one anothering?

Stuart Scott: That’s a great question. But since there are 35 one anothers, and each one of them has its way to be applied, some in marriage, some in your own family, most of them in the church family. I’ll just pick one and think about that. “Bear one another’s burdens,” in Galatians 6. That’s shouldering a heavy load that someone has.

You ask, “Well, how do I know if they have a heavy care or burden?” Ask them how you can pray for them. You can ask, “How can I pray for you?” And when they share and they share a burden, now I’m on the hunt, whether I can meet that burden or find ways that that burden can be relieved. I just heard about one couple, they’re looking for a place to live, they sold their place and they’re looking for another place. I’m on the hunt, asking different people if you know of any place—a 2-bedroom place that they can rent. I’m trying to help what I can, or put them in touch with people to find a place.

One of our counselors was ministering to an orphan, and this young man just really didn’t even have a home. He’s going from one place to another and the church reached out and provided a place. Now the counselor found out that one of the families couldn’t house the boy any longer. This counselor goes, “Well, we have an extra room and we can help bear this young man’s burden. He can live with us.” That’s the kind of thing, asking how can we shoulder up specifically, practically. Whether it’s housing someone, whether it’s giving financially.

I know just recently with Voddie Baucham with a heart surgery issue, and the need for a major amount of money. Someone on the Board set up a GoFundMe account and God’s people gave and met the need. That’s the kind of specific shouldering up. That’s just one of the one anothers.

Dale Johnson: It becomes very practical ways that we can live out our faith. That’s really the goal. We want to see that fleshed out in us. Our goal today, Stuart, was just to spur our listeners on to be familiar with these one anothers, to begin to be active in seeking out, “Lord, how can you use me to minister to someone else in the body as we take care of one another?”