If you know me at all, then you know that I love football. One of the rules of football is to “do unto others before they can do unto you.” And while that rule may not always apply, the dynamics of the sport keep players uniquely connected throughout the game. Players often feed off of each other, rising to a higher level of performance than they ever could on their own.
One of the “winningest” coaches of all time, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, recently shared, in a documentary on his life, about one of his coaching strategies. It involves teamwork.
Coach Belichick put together and played a film of his team, showing them the times when someone had made a great play and then just walked back to the huddle without anyone ever saying anything to him at all. There was no “good job.” There was no pat, high-five, or slap on the helmet. The player had done his thing—and had done it well—only to walk back to the huddle alone. Play after play of these types of scenarios rolled on the game-film in front of his team.
“Team,” Belichick said, addressing the players watching the film, “we aren’t good enough to play that way.” In fact, no one is good enough to play that way. Not in football. And not in life.
God has designed you and me in such a way that we benefit from and need each other’s encouragement, involvement, and accountability. Unlike in football, we have been commanded to do unto others as we would have them do unto to us—and to love one another above all else. The teachings in Scripture on the “one anothers” cover so many topics and so many angles in our lives. Space does not allow me to go into all of them here. But the primary focus of the entirety of the teachings on the “one anothers” always comes back to this one point: our vertical relationship with God is often contingent upon our horizontal relationship with one another.
In other words, if you harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart toward your sister or brother in Christ, then God says you will not receive the entirety of the forgiveness that He has to give you. First John 4:20 says, “If anyone boasts, ‘I love God,’ and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see?” (The Message).
God has both created and called us to live and work with one another. We are stronger together, and have been commanded to encourage one another. It is in doing this that you and I honor Him and find our greatest, collective strength. And when we honor and join with one another, we can advance His kingdom down the field of life bringing Him glory in all that we do.