By Lewis Willis
Most of us live busy lives which require just about all of our effort to take care of our own business. The increased demands upon our strength and time over the last 25 years have made this problem more critical. It is possible to observe the “wear and tear” in the tired faces of most of us. As we have sought to deal with these increasing demands, I am afraid we might have over looked a very important responsibility we have as Christians.
When it is difficult for us to attend to all of our own duties, it is easy to forget that we have a responsibility to each other that is also important. The Hebrew writer set forth that responsibility in these words: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24). The very nature of the statement – the language used – establishes beyond any shadow of doubt that this is a duty, not an optional matter. Therefore, as the Christian contemplates his duty to his own affairs, he must remember and consider others. This is not an obligation to simply think about others, but it sets forth a requirement that we do for them what we can for their good.
This brief article is not intended to catalog specific things we are to do for one another, It is intended to get us to stop and think about the effect we have on others in the things we do, the way we act, and in the things we say. Unless we are thoughtful of others, we will frequently cause them harm by our words and deeds. It would not be possible to meet the demands of Hebrews 10:24 without considering how our lives affect people around us and, in the case of Christians, how we impact other Christians. What do other people think when they look at us?
Would they think that we are arrogant? Proud? Self-righteous? The Word of God says, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:5-6). Clearly God rejects an arrogant, self-righteous demeanor. It not only looks bad, but it is deceptive. “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himse1f” (Gal. 6:3). I have met a few Christians who appeared to be as arrogant as they acted. However, most who are charged with this sin just do not realize how they are affecting other people. It is not intentional, but it has the same effect.
The concept of Christianity which many people have is frequently that which they observe in the lives of people they consider to be Christians. It would be a mistake if Christians did not stop to consider that they are having this impact on people around them, especially those who are babes in Christ.
I like these words from the song, “The World’s Bible.” I think they capture for us the essence of our duty to “consider one another.”
We are the only Bible the careless world will read, We are the sinners gospel, we are the scoffers’ creed; We are the Lord’s last message given in deed and word, What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?
Non-Christians look upon us in the way described in the song, and so do some Christians, especially new Christians. Thus, we must consider them in the things we say and do. Unless we are very careful, we might cause them to be disappointed in us, particularly if our conduct is not consistent with what they regard to be proper conduct. If they are struggling with living the Christian life, and if they have looked to us for direction, it would be an easy thing to discourage them by our conduct. It could reach the point that a new Christian could suffer great damage to his faith. On reflection, it should be added that even mature Christians could be hurt in the same way by the conduct of other mature Christians. No one, knowing the will of the Lord (1 Cor. 10:32; Rom. 14:13), wants to do injury to another.
It must be noted that this is “a two-way street. ” We must learn that we are following the Lord, not other Christians. We must remember that people – all people – have problems living righteous lives consistently. All of us sin, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). A new Christian has no more right to demand perfection of other members of the local church than those members have to demand perfection of the new Christian. We must all try to help each other, because we all need help. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but it is learned when we “consider one another.” What I am saying is that thoughtfulness and consideration must flow from both.
Thus, the warning of God’s Word is before us. No one wants to hurt, disappoint, weaken or destroy another Christian. We want to prompt each other to involve ourselves in things of love and good works. When we become aware that we have adversely affected others, we should strive to correct the matter. If the matter is not correctable, we should resolve that we will not allow it to happen again. One thing that will prevent a breakdown in relationships is to remember we are serving the Lord, living by his Word, trying to learn and we are aware of the imperfections in each other. Then we will all be acting in the interest of the Lord, and of one another.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 6, p. 168
March 19, 1992