Why does the Holy Spirit tell us to greet one another throughout the New Testament? I believe that the Lord wants us to greet one another, and, like all Christian virtue, we are apt to forget his command or disobey it, as long as we are on this side of glory. I’ll let you in on another secret — I struggle with this! I generally write and preach about topics where I believe I have had some victory; I like to feel like I have something useful to say before I waste your time reading or listening to me.
Nevertheless, I want to share some thoughts on “greeting one another.” Maybe you will identify with me and my struggle. Or perhaps you are unaware of your failure in this area.
I trust that some of you will have overcome the sinful tendency to NOT greet one another and will share some helpful wisdom in the comments.
Having said ALL that, let’s commence with some quick thoughts on the topic of greetings.
It’s a Command
Yes, the Bible commands that we greet one another. Romans 16:16;1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12 and 1 Peter 5:14 are rather consistent reinforcements of the concept.
1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
The Bible is full of commands. There are OT commands regarding ceremonial law and Israel’s civil law, the moral law like the 10 Commandments. The NT has lists of commands, too, contrary to many opinions. See Colossians 3:8-9. Even though we are under grace, that is no excuse for avoiding any of God’s good commands.
When God tells us to do anything, it is for our good! The fact that it is often difficult to actually do all that He’s commanded is no excuse to avoid obeying, and repenting for failing. What is vital is that we realize that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and DID perfectly obey all that the Father has commanded.
It’s Not Easy
Like all attempts to turn from sin, beginning to “greet one another,” rather than not will be wrought with difficulty and failure. Here are some reasons (not excuses) that greeting one another is difficult:
- We are selfish by nature. Loving OTHERS from the heart (Philippians 2:4) isn’t natural to our flesh. And when you are talking about sins that have less appearance of earthly consequence, we tend to NOT prioritize mortifying those sins. Let’s do better, church!
- We live in a historical period where humans (especially USA) are the most distracted that they may have ever been. Devices push notifications to us with constant updates of which old high school classmate ate a bagel or doesn’t like the president. As the result, the age of technology — rather than giving us more free time — appears to have made us more busy. When I feel busy, I’m less likely to take time for polite niceties like greetings. This is an area where you can pray for me, please.
- Let’s face it, many of our interactions are online through an instant messenger, email or social media chat, wall, or tweet. When you’re limited in number of characters, you remove anything unnecessary to the topic, greeting included. This can be habit forming! Be aware.
- Real spiritual evil exists and is always in conflict with the Christian’s love for His Lord Jesus Christ. The forces of the demonic are on the attack, trying to create a society where God is not honored (Ephesians 6:12, Romans 1:21, 1 Peter 5:8). Dear Christian, please know that you are fighting a battle when you choose to obey God. Be much in prayer for yourself.
But You Can Do It
What if I told you that even the pagans are able to fulfill this command of God? Check this out [emphasis mine]:
Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Let it never be said that those who are not of the family of God are more conscientious about following a prescription of our great God than His own people are! May we be motivated by the simple fact that we have been adopted by the Father to be provoked to do better.
Even more exciting than the fact that we ought outperform “Gentiles” though, is that by God’s grace you have the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling you if you have been born again. He desires for you to obey all that the Father has commanded, and so walk in confidence in Him, rather than focusing on your own inability. God has sent an example in Jesus Christ who became a man and fulfilled all righteousness, (including greeting people with godliness).
Dear saint, go in the power of the Holy Spirit and pray that He would prick your conscience when you fail to lovingly greet the brethren, and even others. May we walk in repentance and live lives that show that we find all of God’s counsel to be vital to Christian living.