Book Review: Caring for One Another
Words by Mallory Manning // Image c/o Crossway Books
Scripture is packed with instruction and guidance for the people of God to live well together. Across the Old and New Testaments, the Lord’s heart is for his Church to embody his own covenantal, steadfast love through our relationships. We are to:
Instruct one another (Rom. 15:14).
Serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
Admonish one another (Col. 3:16).
Exhort one another (Heb. 3:13).
Confess sins to one another (James 5:16).
It is in this same spirit of “one another-ing” that Ed Welch writes his book Caring for One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships. He invites readers to envision God’s intentions for interpersonal relationships within the Body of Christ:
“Imagine an interconnected group of people who entrust themselves to each other. You can speak of your pain, and someone responds with compassion and prayer. You can speak of your joys, and someone rejoices with you. You can ask for help with sinful struggles, and someone prays with you. The goal of this book is that these meaningful relationships will become a natural part of daily life in your church.”
Welch pens eight brief lessons, conducive for reading aloud in a small group or class setting. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and discussion with space to write responses directly in the book. Caring for One Another is theologically grounded, accessible to those in a variety of church contexts, and thoroughly practical without being prescriptive.
The opening chapter on humility lays the foundation for each chapter following, pointing to Paul’s words to the Ephesian church. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3).
From there, Welch explores what it looks like, in the normalcy of everyday lives, to move toward others with the goal of truly knowing them—to listen well and intercede on their behalf, and to talk about suffering and sin in ways that honor each other and reflect God’s enduring love and transforming grace. Welch reminds us that, “Apparently, the Lord is pleased to use ordinary people, through seemingly ordinary acts of love, to be the prime contributors to the maturing of his people.”
For example, when we ask questions and genuinely want to hear answers, we demonstrate the pursuit with which Jesus pursued us. When we notice the Spirit bearing fruit in another, we call out the goodness of the Lord and celebrate with that person. When we spot sin in our sister’s life, we express our concern, invite further conversation, and seek Jesus together.
In the final chapter of Caring for One Another, Welch summarizes, “There is nothing new here. The purpose has been to remember and live out applications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But in that, the very power of God is further on display, and the church is strengthened and drawn together.”
Lord, may it be so!
Caring for One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships is published by Crossway and available wherever books are sold.