John Gill, the 18thCentury Baptist theologian, in his work A Body of Practical Divinity sets out 12 duties church members owe to one-another:
“First, and which is a principal one, to love one another; “Owe no man anything, but to love one another,” is an apostolical advice, and good advice; this is a debt which every man owes to another, and should be always paying, especially Christians and members of churches (Rom. 13:8, 12:10).”
This love is not only necessary and commanded, but it is love which gives delight to the Church:
“It is this which makes communion in a church state delightful and comfortable, as well as honourable; “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” it is as pleasing and refreshing as the fragrant oil poured on Aaron’s head, and as the dew that fell on mount Hermon (Ps. 133:1-3), when, on the contrary, nothing is more uncomfortable and dishonourable, as well as nothing is more pernicious and ruinous to a church state, than want of love (Gal. 5:15).”
Without love, the gathering of the church is a curse, not a blessing. The remaining aspects can be seen as more specific instances what it means to love-another and how this is to be done.
“Secondly, it is incumbent on church members, as much as in them lies, to endeavour to “keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace;” to press to which the apostle uses various arguments in Ephesians 4:3-6.”
This is a matter which is routinely misunderstood. The unity is not primarily all of get along with each other, which is neither bad nor good in and of itself. Criminals have a great of unity in their crime. The unity which is to mark the Church unity around Christ, which shows itself in unity of Gospel, of doctrine of worship.
“Thirdly, it is the duty of members of churches to sympathize with each other in all conditions and circumstances they come into (Rom. 12:15), and upon this their membership with one another cannot but have a considerable influence (1 Cor. 12:26), this sympathy should be with respect to things outward and temporal; any calamity, affliction, and distress, of whatsoever kind; they “that are in bonds,” especially for the sake of religion, should be remembered as “bound with them,” as if in the same circumstances, and should pity and relieve them as much as may be; and “them which suffer adversity” in body, family, or estate, “as being themselves in the body,” and liable to the same adversities (Heb. 12:3), and therefore should visit, comfort, and assist them; so Job’s three friends, when they heard of his afflictions in his person, family, and substance, though they lived at a distance from him, by appointment met together, “to come, to mourn with him, and to comfort him,” (Job 2:11) and much more should members of churches act such a part to one another.”
It is your duty when another believer is in difficulty to bear that burden with them, alongside of them. You have heard the expression no man is an island – we are all bound to one-another, especially within the Church.
This can be material or spiritual resources; it may be by communicating with one-another (which Gill lists as a separate aspect of church membership) or by providing for needs.
“Fifthly, it is the duty of church members to watch over one another; that they do not indulge to sinful lusts and pleasures, and make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof; and so bring a reproach on the good ways of God, and the doctrines of Christ; and to warn them that are unruly, or err from the rule of the word, and recover them from any evil way they seem to be going into; as also to watch over them, lest they receive any notion contrary to the gospel of Christ; for not only pastors of churches are to watch over them for this purpose, but members of churches are to look “diligently,” or act the part of a bishop or overseer in some respect,81 “lest any man fail of the grace of God,” or fall from the doctrine of grace, (Heb. 12:15) they should not suffer sin to lie upon a brother; but rebuke and admonish him for it, according to the gospel rule, first alone, and then, if such rebuke succeeds not, to do it with, and before others; and such rebukes and admonitions should be in love, and with much tenderness, as well as faithfulness; for such only are like to be kindly received, and to be successful; such that are fallen, whether into immorality or error, should be endeavoured to be restored by those who are spiritual, in the spirit of meekness (Lev. 19:17; Ps. 141:5; Gal. 6:1).”
“Sixth: to make these other things possible we must bear with one-another. The Church is a body of the redeemed, but it is also a congregation of those who sin, who are selfish and provoked and quite capable of being difficult. We must therefore live in patience with one-another.”
“Seventh, we must pray one for another. The church has no more strength than that strength supplied by God; and that strength is imparted by prayer.”
An eighth aspect, which is not commonly addressed:“Eighthly, it becomes church members to separate themselves from the men of the world, and not touch persons and things which are defiling; they are in a church state, which is as a “garden inclosed;” they are a separate people, and should dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations or the people of a vain and carnal world; they are called out of the world, and therefore should not be unequally yoked with the men of it; with men unrighteous, ignorant, lawless, disobedient, dead, and profane sinners, with whom they can have no profitable communion; and, indeed, from all such in their own societies who walk disorderly they are directed to withdraw themselves.”
“Ninthly, church members should be constant in assembling together for religious worship; it is remarked of the members of the first Christian church, to their honour, that they “continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayer,” (Acts 2:42) that is, they constantly attended on hearing the doctrines of the apostles, which they gladly received and persevered in; and kept up their communion with them and one another, and were not missing at the Lord’s Supper, and at times of public prayer;”
“Tenthly, there should be no respect of persons among members of churches in their assemblies, and when met together on church affairs, with regard to rich or poor, greater or lesser gifts; there should be no overbearing, no browbeating, nor any supercilious airs use”.
Eleventhly, to “strive for Gospel”.
Twelfthly, being examples of holy and proper living to be an example and encouragement to others and to properly adorn the honor of Christ.