I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good at being relational with my neighbors. With four homeschooled kids, a dog, a hard-working husband, and a handful of active hobbies, it’s easy to make excuses for how busy I am. But the Bible is clear: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). When I stop and confront myself with the question of how I am presently showing love to others, I find my answers lacking.
Did you know there are more than fifty “one another” commandments in the New Testament? These are not suggestions, friends. We are commanded to be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50), to be kind-hearted, tender, and forgiving to one another (Eph. 4:32), to seek good for one another (1 Thes. 5:15), to serve one another (Gal. 5:13), to regard one another as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), to speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:25), to be hospitable to one another (1 Pe. 4:9), to pray for one another (Ja. 5:6). The way we live life with one another is how we are the church. This is our mission. This is the work we are called to, and it’s a joy and a privilege to do it.
I understand that some of us feel that we are already at capacity. Some of us are going through hard things, and some of us are just plain tired. But the fact is that we have time for what we make time for. We demonstrate where our treasure is by what we value, what we spend time doing. There are innumerable ways to show love to those around us, and we all have time and space to do just a little bit more. Surely we can all be praying for one another! But there are other simple ways to show love. Here are just a few ideas for this holiday season:
- Invite your friend’s kids over to play so she can have a break.
- Offer to babysit so your friends can have a date night.
- Rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor.
- Pay for a drive-thru meal or coffee for the customer behind you.
- Write a note of appreciation to someone.
- Text someone a word of encouragement; he needs to know he’s not alone.
- Bring flowers to a friend or neighbor.
- Donate belongings that are in good condition to the Hope House.
- Show up at a friend’s house and help her clean. Don’t ask, just do it.
- Volunteer at The Big Give.
- Offer to run errands for a friend or neighbor.
- Send a thank you note to your child’s teacher, coach, or mentor.
- Surprise your spouse or kids with breakfast in bed.
- Talk to someone you don’t know at church, a school event, or a sports game.
- Fill a friend’s freezer with meals.
- Offer to pray for someone.
- Perform a special act of service for someone in your family.
- Donate blood.
- Give a sincere compliment to someone.
- Give an unexpected gift to someone.
- Leave a larger tip for your server when you eat out.
- Invite some other families over for a family fun night.
- Help someone with a project at their home.
- Bake a special treat for a friend, neighbor, or coworker.
- Invite someone into your home for a meal.
As we approach the beginning of Advent, it’s important to reflect on why we do all these things. We do them because Christ, Emmanuel, God With Us, came down and made a home with us, here in our broken, dinged up place, amidst our pain and darkness. Shannon Martin said it this way, “He came to see it for himself, to touch it, to redeem it and call it beautiful. … We get to do this because it has been done for us. The work is sanctifying, and we can’t possibly do it alone.”
So link arms with those around you and be a one-anotherer. I’m going to make a plan of action to connect with my neighbors this season, and I want you to hold me to it! Let’s help one another bless our community in the name of Christ.
Written By: Jess Upshaw Glass