“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
Each day I witness a people parade. I’m sure you see one, too. Whether in person, online or on a phone screen, the people procession marches on.
You see your spouse, or maybe a roommate, first thing in the morning. Next, a child crosses your path in need of a little breakfast. Your phone does a buzzing ballet on your kitchen counter alerting you to a friend’s text message. A flowery card arrives in the mail from your grandma. Another swipe of your phone screen again reveals more relationships — from church, family, life.
Then, even more people line up for the parade.
Neighbors, a teacher or your favorite grocery store clerk. You rub shoulders with coworkers and co-cheerers on the sidelines of the football field. And finally, there are strangers, whom you encounter only for a brief moment. Some of these relationships you chose. Others were assigned.
What’s the point of all these people in the parade? Might God have designed any of our encounters … either to teach us a lesson or so we can show them love?
Perhaps it’s the grandfather sitting next to you at the soccer game. Maybe even the scowling, in-a-hurry woman who cuts you off in traffic. Could we treat our encounters with them in a way that shows genuine kindness? Might we ask the grandfather about his grandson, or reply to the angry driver with a smile?
Scripture says much about how we should — and should not — treat each other. In fact, the New Testament contains nearly 40 verses of relational instructions, all containing the telling phrase “one another.”
Today’s key passage, John 13:34-35, showcases one spoken by Jesus Himself:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (emphasis added)
Jesus is the model for love. His love is sacrificial. Consistent. Unconditional. Without strings attached. We accurately model for others the love of Christ toward us when we seek to love them in the same way. The people in our lives can catch a glimpse of the gospel when they see us seeking to mirror God’s love.
Here’s another “one another” verse we can apply to relationship with the people in our parades:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10, NIV — emphasis added)
This verse urges us to honor others above ourselves. What does this look like? It isn’t just taking the smallest piece of coconut cream pie, leaving the bigger ones for others. It isn’t just holding a door for someone. Honoring others means thinking of their wishes and welfare at those times you want to put yourself first. It is trusting God as you let go of what feels like your right to be right. It is speaking kindly and respectfully, showing deference at times and lifting others up always.
As we honor others, we reflect Jesus. If the Lord Himself put others first, then — even though at times it is oh-so-challenging — we can strive to do so too!
We can forget that relationships aren’t easy. I have to remind myself that they require loyalty and steadfast devotion. Sometimes marriages dissolve because feelings fade. We give up on friendships when they get hard. We decide our children have so severely disappointed us as adults that we let our relationships with them dwindle as well. But the command in this portion of Romans is clear: Don’t hang up on your relationships; hang in there instead. (I am not speaking of damaging and abusive relationships, of course.)
If our perspective each day can be “I am in it for you” instead of “What is in it for me?” we’ll discover the joy of serving Jesus without expecting anything in return.
Let’s choose today to show a little “one another living” as we honor others and reflect the gospel of Jesus to all the people in our lives.
Yes … even that person who rains on your people parade today.
Father, help me look at my relationships with the people in my life as an opportunity to show love and reflect the gospel. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.