The One Anothers – An Unspoken Wedding Homily

The One Anothers – An Unspoken Wedding Homily

The One Anothers – An Unspoken Wedding Homily.

“Love one another. Love each other the way that I have loved you.” (John 15:12).

There are a number of “one anothers” in the New Testament, wise advice on the art of building and sustaining a community, of establishing relationships that will have depth and meaning and resilience. Why limit these one anothers to relationships outside the home? If anything, the one anothers should be practices first in the home. The marital relationship is the perfect place to practice the one anothers of Scripture. In fact, without the one anothers between spouses, one wonders how the marriage would last and stand the test of time. Let’s unpack what love looks like and discuss the one anothers in a marital context, so they can be practiced in the little community of marriage.

Harmonize with each other. Romans 12:16 advises, “Live in harmony with each other.” What does harmony look like? It’s when the spouses agree to be agreeable, to adjust to each other in order to fit together. To live in harmony is to be of like mind as you seek mutual understanding. Just like in music, when separate parts intentionally combine into a beautiful whole. When spouses live in harmony, they reconcile apparent differences into a combined unity. It’s when they join together to form a pleasant union of spirit and purpose. In your new marriage, you are two different musical notes that can fit together and make a harmony, something beautiful that will add depth to your relationship.

Bear with one another. Ephesians 4:2 tells us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” To bear with each other is simply to put up with each other, to make allowances, to willingly endure each other in good humor. It’s to know when to step back and not take each other too seriously. It’s to tolerate each other’s little weaknesses, to accept each other despite those blind spots or minor mistakes. To bear with each other takes patience and forbearance and a certain amount of light-heartedness. Usually married couples discover pet peeves they didn’t know they had, and they discover irritating things about themselves that they hadn’t noticed before. Just work through them honestly, lightly and compassionately. When two people live together under one roof, bearing with each other is a sign of true love. Allow each other to be human, with all its weak moments and interesting little habits. Treat the spouse’s imperfections the way that you would want your spouse to treat yours, with understanding and forgiveness and good humor. Bear with teach other.

Exhort each other. Hebrews 3:13 tells us to “Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today.” To exhort each other is to be each other’s spiritual cheerleader, to be each other’s guidance counselor. To exhort your spouse is to come alongside him/her to inspire courage and hope and direction. To exhort your spouse is to call on your spouse to reconsider a decision if it is warranted. There are times we all need to be exhorted, to rethink things with depth and wisdom. What better person to exhort than a life partner who trusts you and understands you better than anyone else? The wedded couple needs to really trust each other here, that the spouse isn’t speaking out of judgment or frustration, but out of love. It’s important for the spouse who is being exhorted is also affirmed and encouraged. This is an important ministry to each other in a marriage, and calls for sensitive interaction in the spirit if understanding and discernment.

Confess to each other. James 5:16 simply says, “Confess your sins to one another.” Whey you confess to each other, you acknowledge your mistake openly with your spouse. It’s when one spouse freely admits the wrongdoing to the other spouse. To confess to your life partner is to privately announce one’s guilt, one’s shortcoming or failure of character. When you concede your wrongdoing to a spouse, you are humbly agreeing that the mistake you made was indeed a mistake. Your wrongdoing may not have been intentional or conscious, but it probably still needs to be confessed. One will no doubt feel somewhat vulnerable when confessing a wrongdoing. But once again trust kicks into gear here. If a spouse is confessing to you, listen with love and understanding, not judgment. Scripture repeatedly warns us about the dangers of concealing an offense, of keeping a wrongdoing a secret. Confession is good for the soul, and it is good for a relationship. It keeps one from self-deception, clears the conscience, provides peace in the spirit. Confession to a spouse renews your innocence. The Passion Translation’s version of that James passage seems tailor-made for married spouses… “Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another, and then pray for one another to be instantly restored, for tremendous power is released through the passionate heartfelt prayer of a godly believer.”

Honor one another. Romans 12:10 encourages us to, ‘Take delight in honoring each other.” To honor a spouse is to highly esteem and greatly respect the other. It is to focus on the innate worth and dignity of the other, to show deference to the other. It is not mere respect, though. It’s way beyond that. It is to revere the spouse because of love and because of the fact the spouse was made in the image of God. Each spouse has a defining identity as a created being. Each spouse wears a crown of honor by virtue of being hand-made by God Himself. Each spouse should try to outdo the other in showing honor to the other. Honoring the spouse should bring great delight and a sense of loving satisfaction. Honor one another, giving the other what is due because s/he is a child of the King. So lift up your spouse every chance you get and honor their precious worth before you and before God.

Bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2 advises us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the way of Christ.” Can you see how important this one another is? There is something about carrying another’s burden that reflects the deepest part of the compassionate heart of God. To bear a burden means to lift up and carry something, sometimes intangible and sometimes tangible. It is bearing something that is weighing down the other person. It is to take up and walk with the other’s burden while you live your life. If something is weighing heavily on a spouse, offer to help carry that burden. Helping to bear the troubles of a spouse is a tangible way of caring for that person. By bearing a burden, a spouse is actually shouldering the yoke of Christ, and when covered in Christ this way, the burden will be lighter for your spouse. Burden-bearing is being actively participating in the spouse’s life in a healthy, helpful way. Any spouse who, through a personal distance or disdain or selfishness, doesn’t bear a burden of the other spouse in a personal way, is actually disobeying Christ. That spouse is not fulfilling the way of Christ. Bearing burdens reflects the very heart of Jesus. At the very least, perhaps the most practical ways a spouse can bear a burden is through active listening with a heart of understanding, and through prayers of intercession, carrying the spouse’s concerns and troubles directly to the Lord of grace and mercy.

Encourage each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 simply says, “Let us encourage one another.” It’s interesting that the Greek word here for encourage is “paraclete.” It is one of those rich Greek terms that has multiple applications in English. Paraclete can mean encourage, comfort, console, advocate for, counsel. The word paraclete actually means at its root the idea of coming alongside another person to help. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit the nickname Paraclete in the gospel of John, the Helper who comes alongside us when we are need. So the two spouses are asked to be little paracletes, who come alongside the other to encourage, to advocate for, to comfort, to counsel. To encourage someone literally means to place courage in the other. Spouses are called to come alongside each other and place courage in him/her, to comfort the spouse in a way that gives hope, to advocate for the spouse in a way that gives strength and confidence. Spouses, encourage each other.

Wash each other’s feet. In John 13, Jesus tells His disciples, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” Back in the day, foot washing was a menial servant’s task, involving the placing of someone else’s dirty, smelly, sweaty feet into a bowl of water, and carefully cleansing those feet of all dirt, grime and sweat, then drying the feet with a towel. It was a lowly act of service, a menial task of hospitality and common care of a guest. As loving spouses, there is nothing too lowly when it comes to serving each other. It is putting humility into practice, and demonstrating for each other the spirit of servanthood that is so vital to a marriage. For spouses, there is nothing too menial or dirty as you care for your spouse. Taking out the trash? Check. Unplugging the toilet? Check. Cleaning out the gutters? Check. Fixing the hair-filled bathroom drain? Check. Picking up the dog poop and cleaning the cat urine? Check. Believe it or not, when you wash each other’s feet  in this way, your home become sacred ground. Perhaps it’s not even a bad idea to literally wash each other’s feet from time to time. If the Lord of the universe could do it, so could you.

Warn each other. Colossians 3:16 instructs us to “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” To admonish is simply to warn, to caution, to place into your spouse’s awareness. To warn is to call attention to something that needs rethinking, to offer sound advice and guidance. Sooner or later, there will come a time when one spouse needs to offer a fair warning to the other spouse. Everyone needs to be admonished at times, to be cautioned and advised. This is not a time when the warning is given out of arrogance or being a know-it-all. Instead, fair warnings are offered in a spirit of humility and compassion. If a spouse is going down the wrong road, turning a blind eye reflects a lack of love and attention. A warning always involves telling truth in love (Eph. 4:5). Wise words timely given to a teachable heart will only strengthen your marriage. Verbal alerts given in grace and truth could be life-changing. And isn’t that one of the purposes of married life, to help each other become a better person? Warn one another, and remain alongside your spouse as difficult decisions are made. Warn each other out of loving concern.

Restore one another. Galatians 6:1 says, “If someone in the fellowship is overtaken by some sin or mistake, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” To restore a spouse means to set that relationship right after a breakage, to repair a union that was broken, to rejoin what has been pulled apart. To restore a spouse is to be bring back to the original state of unity. If a spouse has made a mistake that has broken trust in some way, and needs to be restored to the fellowship of your marriage, it is important to engage in that restoration. If trust has been broken in a major, serious way, such as unfaithfulness and abuse, restoration may not be advisable or even possible. An abused or jilted spouse is not obligated to restore a spouse who has done those evil things. Spouses are never meant to become betrayed lovers or victims of abuse of any kind. The best picture of restoration is when the waiting father is standing along the road with is arms open, ready to receive the prodigal son, and then the father welcomed him and restored him into the home. At some point, we will all need to be welcomed and restored by the Father, and the wise and spiritual spouse can have a hand in that.

Build up one another. Romans 14:19 advises us to “Eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and the building up of each other in mutual edification.” Edification is just a fancy word from the word edifice, or building. So, the word here is, do whatever it takes to build up each other. Help each other mature, make each other stronger, help a spouse construct a building of faith and character and love. To build up is to empower your spouse, to strengthen your spouse so s/he can stand with stability against the strong winds and storms of life. In a marriage, the spouses are in the construction business, building each other up through peacemaking and unselfishness and encouragement. To build up a spouse means to help your spouse discover what is life-giving to him or her, and then helping that spouse to make it happen. It is helping your spouse to engage in what is life-giving to him/her. Build up, not tear down. And in your construction, make sure you use the one unshakable building material that will hold up the whole building… love. Build each other up.

Love each other. Jesus told His disciples in John 15 to “Love one another. Love each other the way that I have loved you.” We don’t start with loving the world. We start with the home. The world’s biggest hypocrites are those who seem to love everyone else but those closest to them at home. All these one anothers I’ve mentioned are one way to unpack what that love looks like. And here’s another way… Love the way Jesus loved. Christ’s love was a readiness to bless, and a readiness to forgive. Wherever Jesus went, He blessed. He pursued whatever was best for the other person… a healing, a wise word, scripture, encouragement, a prayer, a meal together. Jesus blessed whomever He saw, whomever He met. He wanted what was best for each person. So pursue what is best for your spouse, and make your house a house of blessing for each other and whoever else comes inside. And then there’s forgiveness. Because you are both human, there will be ample opportunity to learn how to forgive. Some things are unforgivable in a marriage, such as breaking the vows in unfaithfulness or abuse. But let’s face it, most of the daily mistakes are forgivable, and can soon be forgotten after the forgiveness. Make your home a haven of grace and forgiveness. Love with Christ’s love, agape love,  love that can only be provided by God, because we don’t come by it naturally. We need His love of divine extravagance, brimming over with blessing and forgiveness. Love the way Jesus loved, with the love of Jesus Himself. Love one another.