Thinking through the “one another” verses I posted about yesterday, I felt it would be profitable to tear the verses down a bit to glean some practical application. So, starting at the top, let’s think through the general category of exhibiting humility towards one another.
1. Submitting To One Another
Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This has the idea the being subordinate or obedient to one another. I see humility in this, as it would be easy for any of us to reason that a peer is not worthy of our submission. What makes them better than us, that we should be subject in such a manner? That is exactly the point; nothing makes them better. In fact, we are all equals in Christ. Out of reverence for Him, we are to submit to one another.
Generally speaking, most of us aren’t going around the church telling each other what to do. That’s as much a cultural concern as anything else. We know such behavior would create an awkward situation. No one likes someone that’s “bossy.” But what about when a pastor or deacon gives spiritual instruction? Do we submit, or resist? What about those occasions when a teacher or peer, in the spirit of discipleship, challenges us in an area of spiritual growth? Is our first thought to justify sinful behavior that’s been pointed out to us, or do we, in humility, submit?
2. Consider One Another
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
In the KJV, this is alternately rendered “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Replace the word “consider” with the thought “observe fully,” and you get the sense that we are to take one another quite seriously. Others are to occupy our thoughts. Why do I categorize this under humility? Because our natural inclination is to think about ourselves. Consider how to provoke someone else to love and good works? That sounds like effort. I’d rather think about the good work of buying myself ice cream, you know? To think about someone else in depth regarding a topic of complexity means we must make ourselves second-class. Ergo – humility.
The verse here is telling us that time and energy is to be spent on a challenge: how to encourage a fellow believer to engage in agape love and in doing good things. Do we think about that, or are we so absorbed with how to do good works ourselves, that we don’t care about others? Is it possible that we focus on our own good works as a subconscious comparison, charting what we’re doing for God versus what our fellow believers are doing? Hmm. Perhaps we want all the credit for ourselves. That’s not very considerate.
3. Preferring One Another
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
I chose the KJV above; the ESV rendering is “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Both have a similar sense, in that we are to go out of our way to make someone else more important than we are. The idea of humility comes through yet again, where in our minds we must actually think, believe, understand, and comprehend that we are not number one. Someone else is better than us. We are to honor one another. To prefer one another. Conversely, we are not to honor ourselves. Not to prefer ourselves, which is the most natural inclination we can possibly have.
We automatically live in the world of our self-absorbed minds. If honoring and preferring someone else was easy, we wouldn’t have to be told to do it.
4. Serve One Another
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
The English word “serve” doesn’t quite communicate the strength of the verb used here. The idea in the original Greek is more like slavery: being in bondage to one another. Paul makes the point that while indeed we have great freedom in Christ, we aren’t to use that freedom to do something our flesh wants us to do. Instead, we are to be in slavery to one another. Interesting. That implies that when we sin (an opportunity for the flesh), we’re actually committing an offense towards our Christian family. Instead, we’re supposed to be in bondage to our Christian family. We aren’t to do anything to hurt them through selfish sin.
Ah – there’s that idea of humility again! We must not serve our own desires; rather we must put ourselves into the service of one another.
5. Humility Toward One Another
1 Peter 5:5b Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Our clothes cover, characterize, and communicate about us. Now imagine “dressing” your mind. This verse says that we should be clothed in humility towards one another. As we think of each other, our minds should be covered in humility. Characterized by humility. As we communicate with each other, humility should be revealed. A humility about ourselves should be the most natural thing in the world for us to have towards each other.
Woe is us that it is not.