Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
1 Corinthians 16:20 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Do you remember your first kiss? Sure you do! What makes it so special? What is it about a kiss that so captures the imagination and heart of our culture?
Let me suggest that with a kiss we are communicating our affection and acceptance of another person. Intimacy. Warmth. With just a kiss.
Every culture has a way of doing that, but we have done it for centuries with a kiss. Two millennia have not altered the basic message. Paul wants us to greet one another with the highest form of affection.
How can we do this today?
(1) Determine to take every instance of greeting seriously – Paul is really issuing a command to obey. Greeting one another is a non-optional activity. So we ought to carefully reflect on how we normally greet others. We should avoid simple protocol greetings when possible — let’s get real!
(2) Take the focus off yourself and place it on the other person – Think about the kind of recognition you would want to receive. Think about the times when a poor greeting was hurtful to you.
(3) Learn and use a person’s name in your greeting – Think of the other person as family. Knowing and using a name is a measure of a person’s significance to you. Paul greeted no less than 25 persons by name in Romans 16 in a city he had never visited! Names are vital.
(4) Bless the person with affirmation and interest – “Pause” for the person as you greet them. Acknowledge enduring qualities you appreciate about them. Ask them genuine, probing questions. Introduce them to others with words of affirmation.
(5) And yes – do use an appropriate physical expression of affection – Paul stresses use of the “holy kiss” — please understand that he was referring to greetings between the same sexes! While the function of greeting never changes, but the physical form may vary from culture to culture. Whether it’s a warm handshake and a hug, a squeeze of a shoulder or arm, or a simple pat on the back – we must not offend or tempt others with the physical form of our greeting. But don’t be afraid to display warm affection.
1 Corinthians 11:33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…
Do you remember rushing to get the best place in the lunch line as a kid? Do you still see that behavior during morning rush hour? I do… and sometimes it’s me trying to get that “vital” space ahead of someone else. It’s stupid.
In Corinth, Paul learned believers were eating up the potluck dishes before others arrived. How rude! Yet it was being done with relish! (no pun intended) Paul directed the Corinthians to “wait for one another”. And Peter elaborates on this idea by encouraging his readers to “be tenderhearted, be courteous”.
But this outward courtesy begins in the heart. Peter tells us to have “compassion for one another”. This simply means to “feel together” in a mutual way.
Do you have feelings when you hear of pain in a brother’s life? If so, what do you feel? In church I hear often of the pains and difficulties of others — and I fear it is way too easy to become “numb” to the hurts of others.
Ephesians 5:19-21 …submitting to one another in the fear of God.
1 Peter 5:5 …all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Submission. What images come to mind when you think of this word? Are any of them positive? In our culture we value independence and self-preservation — submission is viewed as destructive to our personal worth. Submission exposes us to abuse. It is demeaning.
Yet Paul and Peter direct us to submit ourselves to each other. Far from being destructive, submission to my brothers and sisters is a pathway to an increase of God’s grace in my life and the growth of His church.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “It is the picture of soldiers in a regiment, soldiers in a line under an officer. The characteristic of a man in that position is this, that he is no longer an individual; he is now a member of a regiment; and all of them together are listening to the commands and the instructions which the officer is issuing to them.”
In a war there is no safe place for self-seeking, individualistic soldiers on the front line. Not only will the individual be in danger — but so will the entire company! We are called to submerge self-interest in a pursuit of the highest good for others. That’s why we are here. That is our mission. That’s why we are told to submit “in the fear of God” — not to do so is a denial of His purpose for our lives.
So what does it look like when I do this “submission”? Paul prefaces the command to mutually submit with these directions…
- to daily let God control my decisions, actions, and speech — His Spirit will guide my “submission” in serving others in my church family (Ephesians 5:18);
- to engage in meaningful, heart-felt worship with other Christians — with a focus on encouraging others in their efforts to live for God (Ephesians 5:19); and
- to maintain a sense that all I am and all I have is a gift from God — to be continually conscious of what He has done for me in Christ (Ephesians 5:20).
Think about it. If you are seeking God’s rule in your life, why wouldn’t I take care to listen to what you have to say? If you are trying to encourage my walk with God, why wouldn’t I try to encourage you in return? If I am daily conscious of the cross (where Jesus gave His life for me), how could I do less than lay down my life for you? If I have already been given everything I really need, why would I try to get more at your expense?
The implications are endless, but the point is clear: when I have found all my joy in Christ, I am free to serve you. You can come first. I no longer have to look out for “number one”!
One more thing… what about abuse? What about occasions where we are asked to do what is sinful or illegal? Submission does not mean we should commit sin, facilitate the sinful behavior of others, or compromise our faith. On those occasions we must stand firm with grace, kindness, a quickness to listen, and in the Spirit — but we cannot participate in evil.