It is very easy for the concept of love to be vague and sentimental. To avoid this trap in the New Testament there is something practical and challenging about the expression ‘one another’.
This phrase “one another” is one way the Bible translates love into specific, concrete, down-to-earth action. All these words and challenges are there to fill out what ‘love one another’ means. The list that follows comes straight from the scriptures …
Love one another.
Serve on another; wash one another’s feet.
Be at peace with one another.
Be devoted to one another.
Honour one another.
Live in harmony with one another.
Stop judging one another.
Accept one another.
Greet one another warmly.
Agree with one another.
Wait for one another.
Have equal concern for one another.
Do not provoke or envy one another.
Carry one another’s burdens.
Bear with one another in love.
Be kind, compassion and forgiving to one another.
Submit to one another.
Do not lie to one another.
Teach and admonish one another.
Encourage and edify one another.
Spur one another on to love and good deeds.
Do not slander one another.
Do not grumble against one another.
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.
Offer hospitality to one another.
Be humble to one another.
Taking seriously this aspect of ‘one another’, especially with people who may be very different from us, is a big challenge. This simple and yet beautiful term motivates us to walk in love with real practical intent.
Although I won’t be retiring until the end of July my official retirement service was held last Saturday at Lancashire’s Anglican Cathedral in Blackburn. I want to thank everyone who took the trouble to attend the service. My wife Jean and I chose to have an informal ‘songs of praise’ style event, with favourite hymns interspersed with recollections and reflections from both of us.