The biblical command to bear with one another is one of the most important commands in the New Testament, but also one of the most difficult to accomplish while living in community. Bearing with the sinfulness and shortcomings of others is part of living out who we are in Christ, and if we could learn to consistently live out this simple exhortation, it could dramatically transform our relationships with each other. In this Scripture text we’ll see that the apostle Paul lays out practical ways we can begin to live out this essential Christian grace.
Believers are commanded to bear one another’s burdens, whether they are our moral failures or the despair and discouragement that are a part of life in this fallen world. Not only does the Bible give us practical ways to bear each other’s burdens, but it also teaches us that our weighty burdens are the concern of each person of the Trinity.
In many places the New Testament writers exhort us to encourage one another. This is such an important spiritual discipline to develop because we are all in need of inspiring exhortations, whether it is to get us through today or help us to persevere over the long haul.
When we get ourselves into trouble, the Lord calls us to confess our sins to one another, and when our brothers and sisters get themselves into difficulties, God calls us to not be indifferent but to help them by praying for them and looking after them so that they do not stray from the way of life.
The apostle Paul indicates in several New Testament passages that believers are to teach one another. Such instruction can take place formally or informally, and it also includes some aspects like admonishing and rebuking one another that may be difficult to do, but are important for mutual edification and the health of the body of Christ.
Speech is a wonderful gift from God, but the apostle Paul in various passages reminds believers that sin’s corrupting influence causes us to use God’s good gift to lie to, grumble against, and pass judgment on, one another. Yet in Christ, we are to put those things off. Instead when we talk to one another, our speech must be seasoned with salt, and we should speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This is how citizens of God’s kingdom ought to speak to one another.
When it comes to having unity with one another in non-essential issues, Paul reminds us that unity does not equal uniformity. While God calls us to have the same spirit and to accept one another, He does not require us to hold the same position on issues in which the Bible is silent.
In Romans 12 the apostle Paul teaches that in view of God’s gracious and merciful work of redemption in Christ, we are to be living sacrifices. He goes on in the rest of the chapter to explain what that looks like in everyday living, and what it means to be a transformed Christian. One of the implications he focuses on is how believers are to treat one another. For Paul this includes being devoted to one another, honoring one another, and living in harmony with one another.
The New Testament contains a number of passages which instruct us how we are to live in relation to one another. In Ephesians 4, Paul teaches that in our union with Christ, we have a new status before God. Our new status demands that we now think and act in ways consistent with who we are in Christ. This new identity forms the foundation for specific ways we are to treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ’s family.