HOW WELL DO WE KNOW EACH OTHER?
By Gilbert Alexander
Many people in local churches know little or nothing about one another. They don’t know each other’s physical state, spiritual condition, or convictions about spiritual things. Too many have walled themselves in and their brethren out, a situation common to our times. Sixty years ago, people would go to neighbor’s house and visit for several hours. They talked about the weather, politics, how each was getting along, and religious matters. They knew whether their neighbors went to church services, where they went if they were “church-goers”, and what they believed about all sorts of Bible matters. They didn’t always visit all of their brethren; however, they had much more than a passing acquaintance with a number of them. They were not afraid to talk to each other about spiritual things.
We need a return to openness of questioning and dialogue. These things are necessary to our becoming truly acquainted with one another. Surely this is Biblical behavior. Paul informed his readers about faithful saints and their work, and about unfaithful ones who had given up their sanctification (Rom. 16; 2 Tim. 2:17,18; 4:14). He wanted the brethren to know how he was faring, and he wanted to know how the brethren in various places were faring (Eph. 6:21,22; Phil. 1:27). He sent Tychicus to Colosse to inform them of all the news about him, and that Tychicus might learn of their circumstances and comfort them (Col. 4:6-8). Paul exhorted the saints to know their elders (1 Thess. 5:12). This meant more than just knowing their names; for they were told to esteem the elders highly in love for their work’s sake (vs. 13). It was for the safety of the saints that Paul wanted to know how they were faring, and also that his own mind might be set at ease by the assurance of their faithfulness (1 Thess. 2:17 – 3:10).
Do we know who needs comfort, who needs companionship, who is drifting away from steadfastness, who is sick, even who is absent from worship at times of assembling? How can we fulfill our duty to our one another without knowing these things? How can elders do their work without knowing these things? How can we “warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, and be patient with all” if we are oblivious to each other’s condition (1 Thess. 5:14,15)? How can we profit from the good examples of saints in other places if we are not told about their work? Remember what Paul told the Corinthians about the Macedonians and why he had done so (2 Cor. 8:1-7,24; 9:1-5). Do we know those who teach us as Timothy knew Paul and could, therefore, be assured in faith concerning the things he had been taught (2 Tim. 3:14,15)? Do we know each other as John knew the elect lady and Gaius and rejoiced in their devotion to God and in the fruits of their labors (2 Jn. 1-8; 3 Jn. 1-8)? How well do we know each other?
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