All or Nothing! Part 5 – What is our absolute responsibility toward others?
There are 7 messages in this All or Nothing Series. To access them all, please use the following links.
All or Nothing Part 1
All or Nothing Part 2
All or Nothing Part 3
All or Nothing Part 4
All or Nothing Part 5
All or Nothing Part 6
All or Nothing Part 7
(a) We must love our fellow man as much as we love ourselves.
Note that if we fulfil God’s requirements (= obedience) then he gives us many exceedingly great and precious promises (see 2 Peter 1:4a – by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature).
But we still have a further responsibility. Firstly, we are responsible to God, which then allows God to take responsibility for us via His promises. Our responsibility is seen in the first of all the commandments, to “love the Lord your God with all (holos) your heart, with all (holos) your soul, with all (holos) your mind, and with all (holos) your strength.” (see Mark 12:29-30)
holos – all; whole; completely – more of a quality rather than a quantity.
Our second (and clearly final in this context) commandment is to “love your neighbour as yourself.” (see Mark 12:31) – Jesus said that on these two commandments “hang all (holos) the Law and the Prophets.” (see Matthew 22:40)
This means that the next responsibility on the list is our responsibility toward others. It is a command of Jesus that we do so! That is, we treat others as we would want them to treat us. No less than a complete equality of treatment is meant here.
Romans 12:17-18 – 17Recompense to no man (an absolute term) evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all (pas) men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all (pas) men.
‘No man’ is another absolute here. No man is entitled to our revenge. See the next verse: Romans 12:19 – Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
No pay-back, no point-scoring, no argument-winning! Jesus said the following:-
Matthew 5:44 – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
This means that to do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31 – And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.) is not just a nice bit of advice on how not to annoy your next-door neighbour. In fact, it appears to be more of a promise that the way you treat others is the way your heavenly Father will treat you. Note the following: Matthew 6:14-15 – 14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Note that this forgiveness is required for all those who repent of their sin against you. It’s not your decision as to whether repentance is genuine or not – so if a person says he has repented of his sin against you, you must accept it at face value and forgive that person who asks you for your forgiveness.
Luke 17:3 – Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
On the other hand, you may go even further and forgive all those who sin against you even without any evidence of their repentance.
Luke 23:34a – Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Acts 7:59-60 – 59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
(b) Let your Christian living be seen (and noted) by all around you.
Live an effective Christian life that all others may note it well. Let all your business be well ordered in the eyes of all men.
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Our Christian witness requires that we live at peace with all men.
Hebrews 12:14-15 – 14Follow peace with all (pas) [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;
This means in particular those who are most in your face, the unlovable, the whingeing ones, the ones who just seem to delight in being an annoyance. Of course, this is particularly noted when we are under the authority of such people. Remember, all means everyone, without exception!
Matthew 5:9 – Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Our peaceful response may well be the action that allows a person to come to the Cross for salvation! On the other hand, our angry retort may become the stumbling block preventing a person from coming to the Cross.
And, while it may not be possible to live at peace with all men (Jesus warned us that the world would hate us as it first hated Him) we should nevertheless strive for this high ideal.
Matthew 5:38-42 – 38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Not only are we to be peacemakers in a hostile world, we also have a responsibility to show meekness to all around us, especially to those in authority over us. (And note that “no” is also an absolute!)
Titus 3:1-2 – 1Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every (pas) good work, 2To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all (pas) meekness unto all (pas) men.
(c) We are to be all things to all men for the sake of the gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – 19For though I be free from all (pas) [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all (pas), that I might gain the more. 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things (pas) to all (pas) [men], that I might by all means (pantos) save some. 23And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you].
by all means – pantos (by all means; in any and every way)
We might desire to live our own lives according to our wishes, to do the job we’ve always wanted to do, to live in the place we’ve always wanted to live, to have the little luxuries of life as our right to enjoy! But God says that if it means to lose some (or all) of your ‘rights’ in order to serve Him more fully, then we must do just that. We must take up our crosses and follow Jesus, taking His pathway of suffering for the sake of a world dying around us. We must go where we are called, do what we are called to do, and for those to whom the gospel must be preached. God asks us to go this far, and even more.
Perhaps the line most frequently attributed to Dwight L. Moody (and spoken by his character in the only film on Moody’s life) is the famous quotation: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”
(d) We should feel for the sufferings of all fellow-Christians.
1 Corinthians 12:24b-26 – but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked: 25That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all (pas) the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all (pas) the members rejoice with it.
If a fellow-Christian is suffering alongside us, we must be able to feel their anguish. For others of the body of Christ, the Church, we must be able to laugh when they laugh, cry when they cry, hurt when they do, and so on. Without this, we are lacking much of our Christian experience.
(e) Our Christian love should be an example to the world around us.
Christians without love have nothing to offer to a needy world. Without love nothing else we offer is of any value.
1 Corinthians 16:14 – Let all (pas) your things be done with charity.
charity – agape (love)
If we cannot do it with love, then it’s not worth doing!
1 Corinthians 13:2-3 – 2And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (agape – love), I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (agape – love), it profiteth me nothing.
Note that “nothing” (used twice here) is another absolute word.
Love is a foundation stone for all our Christian living and example.
1 Corinthians 13:7 – (Love) Beareth all things (pas), believeth all things (pas), hopeth all things (pas), endureth all things (pas).
We should love others because God loved us so much.
Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:16 – And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
If God loved us so much, then we should love one another.
1 John 4:11 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Love allows Christians to overlook “faults” of others.
1 Peter 4:8 – And above all things (pas) have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Love shows that we are disciples of Jesus, who demonstrated His love for us.
John 13:34-35 – 34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all (pas) [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 5:7-8 – 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And love doesn’t demand to be the boss all the time!
Romans 12:10 – [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Churches are places of love, not seeing who is the boss! We aren’t in a struggle for supremacy with the brethren, but, in love, should put them first when there is any dispute!
(f) We have a responsibility to always do the right thing to others around us, even when we might feel that they don’t deserve it!
Galatians 5:14-15 – 14For all (pas) the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Even when we might get no thanks for going the extra mile! Even if we might get criticised for our desire to help others properly. We should love those around us as we love ourselves.
We should always do all things correctly; the end never justifies the means!
1 Corinthians 14:40 – Let all things (pas) be done decently and in order.
We are to do good to all people, especially to our fellow Christians.
Galatians 6:10 – As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all (pas) [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
(g) Faithful teachers of the Word are worthy of all good things.
Galatians 6:6 – Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all (pas) good things.
If God has been good to you, and taught you well via another Christian, then encourage that one who has taught you well. Keep in mind also that a faithful teacher of the Word needs support; this may include financial assistance. Also, be equally good to others with the blessings you have received. Share the blessings! All blessings are given to share, not to withhold from others! Don’t give little when you are able to give much.
This applies in particular to those who have the ministry of teaching and preaching the Word. They come to bless you with their wisdom concerning the Word, and you should share your provision with the one who teaches. In other words, a minister or pastor is worthy of his hire!) Or should be!!
1 Timothy 5:18 – For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward.
1 Corinthians 9:13-14 – 13Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
(h) All Christians are to submit to each other (notably other Christians, especially those more mature than ourselves).
1 Peter 5:5-6 – 5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all (pas) [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Don’t try to take charge of responsibilities unless they are specifically yours. All Christians are to submit to each other.
If you wish to be in charge, try being a servant first.
Matthew 20:26-28 – 26But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Note that “many” is another absolute, for it represents the many of all mankind. Even Calvin noted in his Commentary on Matthew 20:28 that The word many (pollon) is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for a large number; for he contrasts himself with all others. And in this sense it is used in Romans 5:15, where Paul does not speak of any part of men, but embraces the whole human race.
Humility especially includes being submissive to those who have the power to hurt us, and often do indeed hurt us. Slaves were to obey all masters (without exception), even the unkind or harsh ones. God even commends those who patiently bear the beatings of others, suffering wrongfully for doing good, in submission to authority.
1 Peter 2:18-20 – 18Servants, [be] subject to [your] masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19For this [is] thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God.
And humility to all men means living at peace with all men, not just the Christians. (See (b) above.)
There are 7 messages in this All or Nothing Series. To access them all, please use the following links.