Berean Studies / Ber06 - Brotherly Kindness (Brotherly Love)
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What is the ‘new commandment’ given by Christ to his disciples?
2. What is brotherly love?
3. Who are our ‘brethren’?
4. Why is the manifestation of brotherly kindness so necessary ?
5. Is it important that we observe the spirit as well as the form of our Lord's command?
6. Why do the Lord’s ‘brethren’ need no ‘outward passwords, grips or badges’?
7. How is our love for God measured by our love for ‘the brethren’?
8. Can we fellowship all ‘the brethren’ alike?
9. Should we always expect to have our manifestations of brotherly kindness received in the same spirit?
10. How are the comfort and peace of the Church dependent upon the manifestation of this grace?
11. How should brotherly love exercise itself in seeking opportunities for service?
R2343 col. 2 ¶3 to 2344 col. 1 ¶2
R2343 [col. 2 ¶3] through R2344 [col. 1 ¶2]:
Looking about us for opportunity of service we find our Lord's instruction through the Apostle, that we should seek to do good to all men according to our ability and opportunity, but especially to the household of faith. As we look first to the household of faith to see what service we can render, we find in this household some who are naturally more attractive to us than others, some whom we would find it a pleasure to serve; while others, because of more perverse natural conditions, we find less congenial, even repellant; and these we feel less disposed to serve. But this is because of a wrong view of the subject. We are to remember that all consecrated believers are new creatures in Christ Jesus and accepted of the Lord as members of his body, fellow-members with ourselves. From this standpoint only can we realize to the full the significance of the Apostle's words in our text, "Ye do serve the Lord Christ." The Master informs us that the slightest service done to the least of his brethren is accepted as done to himself. With this view of matters clearly in mind, we see our duty of service in a new light. We see that the brother or sister of high spiritual development and possessing more of the Lord's likeness and grace, whose company we find so congenial, and whom we would delight to serve, often needs our service far less than others who are of the same Body, acknowledged by the same Head, who have much more natural depravity, unconquered, to contend with. These need our special sympathy and love and care and helpfulness; for the proper conception of service is a desire to render some benefit: and there is the more opportunity to benefit or help those who most need assistance.
Of our Lord it is written that he "pleased not himself," in his serving. He did not come into the world on a mission of self-gratification and pleasure; but to render service. He himself said, "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." We are to have his spirit, and the thought with us is not to be our own pleasure or convenience, but on the contrary the necessities of those whom the Lord would have us serve,--namely, those of his household most in need of our aid. We may have less pleasure, according to the flesh, in serving such than we would have in serving others, but it is not fleshly pleasure that we are seeking; and we can have as much or more spiritual pleasure serving those who are the most needy members of the body of Christ, because we realize that this is the will of our Master. It is to him that we really render the service, and our highest spiritual pleasure must be in doing those things which are pleasing in his sight. And it is because our Master has so ordered, that the household of faith is to be served in preference to any other class; consequently we are to ignore the opinions of the worldly and of the nominal church and not to seek out the most degraded people of the world, and spend our energies upon them, but we are to seek the most needy members of the body of Christ, that we may be most helpful to them. The Lord will attend to the poor heathen world in due time, and the time is now nigh at hand. The first work is, as we have seen from the Scriptures, the preparation of the body of Christ; and it is to this end that we are to "edify one another, building up one another in the most holy faith."
Another thought respecting service is that the true service of the Lord and his truth may be a small, humble and comparatively insignificant service, or a larger and more prominent service. And of course, if two opportunities for service offer, which were otherwise alike, we should choose and use the larger and the more important of the two opportunities. But we are to guard ourselves against seeking for large opportunities for service, and overlooking or intentionally passing by smaller opportunities. We believe this is a common error amongst those who seek to serve the Lord Christ. They desire to do some great thing for him; they would be overjoyed with the privilege of addressing thousands of intelligent and interested hearers. They fain would sway nations to the Lord's standard. Some would be willing to use smaller opportunities, and to address a hundred or fifty or even less, yet perhaps would think it not worth while to use the little opportunities of everyday life in speaking to one or two or three, or a dozen or a score, in a day, or of handing a tract, or of loaning a book, or of circulating tracts in the railway train, or upon the street corner. These services they would esteem too insignificant to render to the Master; they feel that they must do some great thing.
This is a serious mistake, and any who find such a disposition in their hearts should at once analyze their sentiments carefully, to ascertain whether or not they have the desire to serve the Lord, or whether theirs is a desire for self-glorification,--a desire to be identified with something great, prominent and distinguished. The Lord's rule is, not to put a new servant into a very important place. The captains in the Lord's army are expected to rise from the ranks. He tells us the process of his judgment respecting fitness for prominent service, when he says, "He that is faithful in that which is least will be faithful also in that which is greater." "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted; he that exalteth himself shall be abased." And the more we look at the principles here set forth, the more we see of their wisdom and correctness. The person who is earnest and zealous to serve the Lord, so willing and so anxious for the opportunity that he will do what his hand finds to do with his might, that is a true servant; that servant shows his love for the Master,--shows that his is not a love of self and of self-advancement. Such servants, the Lord sees, can be trusted with a more important service, and consequently, when a more important service is to be attended to, usually the Lord selects one who has been faithful in a few things, to give charge over larger things. And who would dispute the wisdom of the Lord's method? He who has not humility enough to do the smallest service for the Lord, for the truth, and for the fellow-members of the body of Christ, has not humility enough to be entrusted with any larger service; for larger service might prove a great injury to himself, since it would tend to cultivate a quality which is latent in every member of the fallen race, and one which would thoroughly incapacitate him for further service, namely, pride,--self-conceit and its concomitant evils.
12. How should brotherly love manifest itself ‘in honor preferring one another’?
13. How should we ‘consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works’?
14. How will brotherly love exercise itself in ‘laying down our lives for the brethren’?
15. How should we manifest brotherly kindness toward the weaker brethren?
16. How will brotherly love sympathize with the more demonstrative brethren?
17. How should brotherly kindness deal with the self-seeking ?
18. How will brotherly kindness deal with brethren who lack self- control?
19. How should brotherly kindness seek to avoid ‘busy- bodying’?
20. How should brotherly love control the tongue?
F291 ¶2; F292 ¶1; R3594 col. 2 ¶4, 5; R3595 col. 1 ¶7, 8; F586 to 588; F406 ¶1
F291 [¶2] through F292 [¶1]:
Unquestionably, the majority of the Church troubles (and society and family troubles as well) spring not from a desire to wrong, nor even from a wrong unintentionally committed, but from misunderstandings and, at least, partial misinterpretations of intentions or motives. The tongue is the general mischief-maker; and it is part of the spirit of a sound mind, therefore, to set a guard upon the lips as well as upon the heart, from which proceed the ungenerous sentiments which, the lips expressing, set fire to evil passions and often injure many. The New Creation--the Church--has strict instructions from their Lord and Head on this important subject. His spirit of love is to fill them as they go alone, privately, to the injuring person without previous conference or talking with anyone. They go not to make him (or her) ashamed of his conduct, nor to berate him or otherwise punish, but to secure a cessation of the wrong and, if possible, some recompense for injury already received. Telling others of the wrong, first or afterward, is unkind, unloving--contrary to the Word and Spirit of our Head. Not even to ask advice should the matter be told: we have the Lord's advice and should follow it. If the case be a peculiar one, the wisest of the elders should be asked for advice along the lines of a hypothetical case, so as not to disclose the real trouble and wrongdoer.
Unless the trouble is serious, the matter ought to stop with the personal appeal to the erring one, whether he hears or forebears to hear--to yield. But if the second step be deemed necessary, no explanation of the trouble should be made to those asked to confer until they gather in the presence of the accuser and the accused. Thus slanderous "talk" will be avoided and the committee of brethren will come to the case unbiased and be the better able to counsel both parties wisely; for the trouble may be on both sides, or, possibly, wholly on the side of the accuser. At all events, the accused will be favorably impressed by such fair treatment and will be much more likely to yield to such counselors if his course seems to them also to be wrong. But whether the one deemed by the committee to be in error shall yield or not, the whole matter is still strictly private, and not a mention of it should be made to anyone until, if thought sufficiently important, it is brought before the Church, and passed upon finally. Then for the first time it is common property to the saints only, and in proportion as they are saints they will desire to say no more than necessary to anyone respecting the weaknesses or sins of anybody.
R3594 [col. 2 ¶4, 5]:
Evil speaking, backbiting and slandering are strictly forbidden to God's people, as wholly contrary to his spirit of love--even if the evil thing be true. As a preventive of anything of the nature of slander, the Scriptures very carefully mark out one only way of redress of grievances, in Matt. 18:15-17.
Even advanced Christians seem to be utterly in ignorance of this divine ruling, and hence professed Christians are often the most pronounced scandal-mongers. Yet this is one of the few special, specific commandments given by our Lord; and considered in connection with the statement, Ye are my disciples if ye do whatever I command you, its constant violation proves that many are not far advanced in discipleship.
R3595 [col. 1 ¶7, 8]:
If any Brother or Sister begins to you an evil report of others, stop him at once, kindly, but firmly. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them." Refuse to have any share in this violation of our Master's commands, which does great mischief in the Church. Supposing the Brother or Sister to be only a "babe" in spiritual matters, call attention to the Lord's ruling on the subject, Matt. 18:15, and 1 Tim. 5:19. If the conversation is not directed to you but merely in your hearing, promptly show your disapproval by withdrawing.
If, after having his attention called to the Lord's command on this subject, the slanderer still persists in "evil-speaking," "back-biting" and telling you his "evil surmisings," reprove him more sharply, saying as you go,--I cannot, must not hear you; for if I did, I would be as criminal in the matter as you are--violating the Lord's command. And even if I were to hear your story, I could not believe it; for the Christian who does not respect the Lord's Word and follow his plan of redress for grievances, shows so little of the Lord's spirit that his word can not be trusted. He who twists and dodges the Lord's words would not hesitate to twist and misrepresent the words and deeds of fellow-disciples. If to any extent you listen to such conversation or express "sympathy" with it or with the gossiper or slanderer, you are a partner in the sin and in all its consequences; and if a "root of bitterness" is thus developed, you are more than likely to be one of those "defiled" by it.--Heb. 12:15.
F586 to F588--"Blessing God and Cursing Men"
No wonder the Apostle James terms the tongue an unruly member, full of deadly poison! No wonder he declares that it is the most difficult member of our bodies to govern! No wonder he says that it sets on fire the course of nature! (James, Chap. 3) Who has not had experience along these lines? Who does not know that at least one-half the difficulties of life are traceable to unruly tongues; that hasty and impetuous words have involved wars costing millions of money and hundreds of thousands of lives; that they are also at the foundation of one-half the lawsuits, and more than one-half of the domestic troubles which have affected our race for the past six thousand years! The Apostle declares respecting the tongue, "Therewith bless [praise] we God, and therewith curse [injure, defame, blight] we men, made in the image of God. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." (Verse 9) The Christian who merely has attained to the standard of not stealing from his neighbor, or not murdering him but who commits depredations upon that neighbor with his tongue--wounding or slaying or stealing his reputation, his good name--is a Christian who has made very little progress in the right way, and who is still far from the Kingdom of heaven condition.
All know how difficult a matter it is to control the tongue, even after we realize its vicious disposition in our fallen nature. We, therefore, call attention to the only proper method of restraining or curbing the tongue, viz., through the heart. The inspired Word declares that "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." This being true, it implies that when we have a great deal of difficulty with our tongues, there is a great deal that is not altogether right about our hearts; and that in proportion as we get our hearts right we will have the less difficulty in controlling our tongues. The lips which continually speak scornfully of others indicate a proud, haughty, domineering, self-conscious condition of the heart. The lips which continually speak evil of others either directly or by insinuation, indicate that the heart back of the lips is not pure, not filled with the Lord's spirit of love--for "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor," not even in thought. It "thinketh no evil." It would not permit itself to surmise evil respecting him. It will give him the benefit of every doubt, and rather surmise the favorable than the unfavorable.
Self-love is usually strong enough in all mankind to hinder the tongue from speaking anything to its own injury; and proper love, unselfish, that would love the neighbor as himself, would be as loath to speak to the detriment of one's neighbor or brother, or even to cast a reflection against his conduct, as it would be unwilling to take such a course against itself. We see then, from whatever direction we look at the subject, that the matter of prime importance with the New Creation is the attainment of perfect love in our hearts. This toward God would stimulate us to the more zeal and energy and self-sacrifice in cooperating in the divine service, the service of the Truth; and toward men it would stimulate us not only to act justly and lovingly, but to think and speak graciously of all so far as possible. This is the holy Spirit, for which our Redeemer taught us that we should pray, and respecting which he declared that our Heavenly Father is more willing to give it to us than are earthly parents to give earthly good gifts to their children; and sincerity in praying for this spirit of holiness, spirit of love, implies earnest desire and striving that in thought and word and deed love may be shed abroad through all the avenues of our being. So shall we be the children of our Father which is in heaven, and be accounted worthy of his love and of all the precious things he has promised and has in reservation for those who love him.
But if to tell uncomplimentary truth is to violate the Law of Love and the Golden Rule, what shall we say of the still more disreputable, still more unlovely, still more criminal habit so common, not only amongst the worldly and nominally Christian, but also among true Christians--that of telling about others disreputable things not positively known to be the truth. Oh shame! shame! that any of the Lord's people should so overlook the Lord's instruction, "speak evil of no man"; and that any but the merest babes and novices in the Law of Love should so misunderstand its message--that any without the most indubitable proofs at the mouth of two or three witnesses, and then reluctantly, should even believe evil of a brother or a neighbor, much less to repeat it--to slander him upon suspicion or hearsay evidence!
21. How should brotherly love treat a slanderous report against an elder or other brethren?
22. How should the Church exercise brotherly kindness toward those who ‘walk disorderly’?
23. How should the elders exercise brotherly love in reproving the ‘unruly’?
24. How may we avoid judging one another as individuals ?
25. How should brotherly kindness be exercised toward brethren who have doctrinal ‘hobbies’?
26. What is the relation between brotherly kindness and ‘the unity of the faith’?
Eph 4:11- 16; F239 ¶1 to 240 ¶1; F326 to 328; R2877 col. 1 ¶7; R3127 col. 1 ¶6, R3128 col. 2 ¶2, 3
Ephes. 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
F239 [¶1] through F240 [¶1]:
In his letter to the Ephesians (4:1-16) the Apostle reiterates this lesson of the oneness of the Church as one body of many members, under one Head, Christ Jesus, and united by one spirit--the spirit of love. He exhorts all such members to walk worthy of their calling in lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In this chapter the Apostle sets forth the various members of the body appointed to special services in it, and tells us the object of the service; saying: "he gave some [to be] apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry [preparing them for the glorious ministry or service of the Millennial Kingdom], for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we,...speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth ... maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Eph. 4:11-16
We note the picture which the Apostle draws for us--that of a human body, but small and undeveloped. He informs us that it is the divine will that all of the various members should grow to full development, full strength and power--"the full stature of manhood" is the picture which represents the Church in its proper, complete condition. Carrying the figure down through the age to the present time, we see that member after member fell asleep to await the grand organization of the Millennial morning in the First Resurrection, and that the places of these were being continually supplied, so that the Church was never without a full organization, although at times there might be greater weaknesses in one member and greater strength in another. However, the endeavor of each member at all times must be to do everything in his power for the upbuilding of the body, for the strengthening of the members and for their perfection in the graces of the Spirit--"till we all come to the unity of the faith."
Unity of faith is desirable; it is to be striven for--yet not the kind of unity that is generally aimed at. Unity is to be along the lines of "the faith once delivered unto the saints" in its purity and simplicity, and with full liberty to each member to take different views of minor points, and with no instruction whatever in respect to human speculations, theories, etc. The Scriptural idea of unity is upon the foundation principles of the Gospel. (1) Our redemption through the precious blood, and our justification by demonstrated faith therein. (2) Our sanctification, setting apart to the Lord, the Truth and their service--including the service of the brethren. (3) Aside from these essentials, upon which unity must be demanded, there can be no Scriptural fellowship; upon every other point fullest liberty is to be accorded, with, however, a desire to see, and to help others to see, the divine plan in its every feature and detail. Thus each member of the body of Christ, maintaining his own personal liberty, is so thoroughly devoted to the Head and to all the members that it will be his pleasure to lay down all, even life itself, on the behalf.
F326 through F328--"Let Every Man Be Fully Persuaded in His Own Mind" (Rom. 14:5)
All logical minds delight in reaching a decision, if possible, respecting every item of truth; and this the Apostle declares should be striven for by each member of the Church for himself--"in his own mind." It is a common mistake, however, to attempt to apply this personally good rule to a Church or to a class in Bible-study--to attempt to force all to decide on exactly the same conclusion respecting the meaning of the Lord's Word. It is proper that we should wish that all might "see eye to eye"; but it is not reasonable to expect it when we know that all are fallen from perfection, not only of body, but also of mind, and that these deflections are in various directions, as shown by the various shapes of head to be found in any gathering of people. Our various kinds and degrees of education are important factors also in assisting or hindering oneness of view.
But does not the Apostle intimate that we should all mind the same things?--and that we will be all taught of God so that we will all have the spirit of a sound mind?--and that we should expect to grow in grace and knowledge, building one another up in the most holy faith?
Yes, all this is true; but it is not intimated that it will all be attained in one meeting. The Lord's people not only have differently developed heads, and differences in experience or education, but they are additionally of different ages as New Creatures--babes, youths, matured. It must not surprise us, therefore, if some are slower than others to comprehend and, hence, slower to be fully persuaded in their own minds respecting some of "the deep things of God." They must grasp the fundamentals--that all were sinners; that Christ Jesus, our Leader, redeemed us by his sacrifice finished at Calvary; that we are now in the School of Christ to be taught and fitted for the Kingdom and its service; and that none enter this School except upon full consecration of their all to the Lord. These things all must see and fully and always assent to, else we could not recognize them as even baby brothers in the New Creation; but we have all need of patience with each other, and forbearance with each other's peculiarities--and behind these must be love, increasing every grace of the Spirit as we attain more and more nearly to its fulness.
This being so, all questions, all answers, all remarks--in meetings where several participate --should be for the entire company present (and not personal to any one or any number), and should, therefore, be addressed to the Chairman, who represents all--except when the Chairman may for convenience request the speaker to face and address the audience direct. Hence, too, after having expressed his own view, each is quietly to hear the views of others and not feel called to debate or restate his already stated position. Having used his opportunity, each is to trust to the Lord to guide and teach and show the truth, and should not insist that all must be made to see every item as he sees it, nor even as the majority view it. "On essentials, unity; on non-essentials, charity," is the proper rule to be followed.
We agree, however, that every item of truth is important, and that the smallest item of error is injurious, and that the Lord's people should pray and strive for unity in knowledge; but we must not hope to attain this by force. Unity of spirit on the first basic principles of truth is the important thing; and where this is maintained we may be confident that our Lord will guide all possessing it into all truth due and necessary to him. It is in this connection that the leaders of the Lord's flock need special wisdom and love and force of character and clearness in the Truth, so that at the conclusion of each meeting he who has led may be able to summarize the Scriptural findings and leave all minds under their blessed influence-- expressing himself clearly, positively, lovingly-- but never dogmatically, except upon the foundation principles.
R2877 [col. 1 ¶7]:
No doubt all have been struck with the fact that those who manifest the deepest interest in the divine plan are not always the most smooth and most agreeable people in the world: frequently they are so combative as to be continually distressing both themselves and their friends by their unwisdom or their disposition to wrangling and contention. The very quality which the Apostle mentions in this text as like-mindedness or harmony is peculiarly lacking, naturally, in the disposition of the majority of those who become deeply interested in present truth. And some have been inclined hastily to condemn the doctrines and to say, This is not the peaceable spirit of Christ. Where the spirit of Christ is there should be love and harmony. So says the Apostle: "Finally, be ye all of one mind." And this should be borne in mind as being the final result of discipline and instruction in the school of Christ; by our attainment of this disposition to harmony (while at the same time loyal and courageous for the truth), we may safely gauge our growth in grace, knowledge and love.
R3127 [col. 1 ¶6]:
But if there was nothing in the condition of the Philippians to reprove, they, nevertheless, needed the exhortation to stand fast. They had already, by the Lord's favor, reached a considerable attainment in the graces of the spirit--they must needs be tested, however, to prove them, to try them; and for this ordeal, which every individual, as well as every congregation of the Lord's people must expect, the Apostle wished to prepare them--to urge that they do not retreat from the advanced steps of love and obedience already taken --that they continue firm, not, however, trusting to their own strength, but, as he expresses it, that they should "stand fast in the Lord," trusting in his power, in his grace, sufficient for every time of need.
R3128 [col. 2 ¶2, 3]:
"Be careful for nothing" is the next exhortation; but since our English word careful has lost its original meaning, there is danger of error here. The word originally had the thought of being full of care--anxiety, trouble. The Apostle's words correspond exactly to our Lord's injunction, "Take no thought," and signify, Be not anxious, burdened, full of care. It is proper that the Lord's people should be careful, in the meaning of the word careful as used today. We should not be careless, indifferent, loose in our conduct or words, but be circumspect.
Anxiety and burdens are unavoidable to those who are depending on themselves, their own wisdom, their own strength, their own skill; but the members of the body of Christ, accepted in the Beloved, adopted into the divine family, sons of God, are assured over and over again in the Word that if they abide faithful all things shall work together for their highest welfare. Why should they be burdened? Why should they feel anxious? He who guards their interests slumbers not. When Christians find themselves anxious, fearful, burdened, the evidence is that they are lacking in faith, and the probability is that they have either never grown to the point of having the proper faith in the Lord, or that they have allowed "earth-born clouds" and cares of this life to come between them and the Lord, so that they no longer have confidence that they are abiding in his love and in his care. All in such condition should go at once to the throne of heavenly grace, and to the divine promises, and obtaining mercy at the former, and feeding upon the latter, they should grow strong in the Lord and in confidence in him, and their corroding cares will give place to faith, confidence, peace of heart, whatever the outward conditions.
27. How should brotherly kindness deal with serious offenders in the Church?
28. By what rules are ‘false brethren’ to be judged?
29. What should be our attitude toward ‘siftings’ among the brethren?
30. What should be the attitude of all ‘true sacrificers’ toward each other and toward those who have left ‘the Holy’?
31. How does brotherly kindness apply ‘the Golden Rule’?
32. How should brotherly love exercise itself toward the special servants of the Church?
33. How should we exercise brotherly love toward our brethren still ‘in Babylon’?
34. How should brotherly kindness consider ‘social obligations’?
35. What course will brotherly love dictate in the matter of ‘borrowing and lending’?
36. How should brotherly love regard visiting, ‘borrowing a neighbor’s time ‘?
37. What is the relation between brotherly love and communism?
38. Do those who have reached ‘the mark’ still have trials along the line of brotherly love?
39. Why is brotherly love ‘one of the final and most searching tests ‘ of the brethren and how may we prepare to meet it?
40. What should be ‘the main- spring back of brotherly kindness’?
41. What does the illustration of ‘the third- quarter mark’ signify?
42. Why is it important that we manifest brotherly love now ?
43. How may we become members of ‘the Mary class’?
44. How did Jesus show us a grand example of brotherly love and sympathy?
45. How can we fulfill Jesus’ command to ‘wash one another’s feet’?
R3543 203543 Subhead: THE MEANING OF THE LORD’S ACTION ; R2201 col. 2 ¶3 to end
R3543 [col. 2 ¶4 to end]--The Meaning of the Lord's Action
Here we have the entire lesson explained. In their fear to be the least, all the disciples had shunned the opportunity of service for the Master and for each other. Our Lord, their acknowledged Head and Master, the Messiah, had humbled himself to serve them all, and had thus rebuked their in humility, and at the same time set them an example that would apply to every affair of life, namely, that they should be glad to serve one another on every proper occasion, in the high things or in the common affairs of life. This washing of one another's feet we may readily see applies to any and every humble service of life, any and every kindness, though specially to those services and kindnesses which would be along the lines of spiritual assistances and comfort.
From this standpoint it will be seen that we do not understand that our Master here enjoined a form or ceremony as our Dunkard friends and others believe. We do not even see in the matter the groundwork for the custom of the pope of Rome, who once every year, at this season washes the feet of twelve poor men, perhaps beggars, who are first prepared by a general washing and then brought in while the pope performs the special public service in the washing of their feet. We see no such formality in our Lord's intention. Indeed so far from it being a comfort or necessity to literally wash feet in our day and under our conditions, the reverse would be true. On the contrary, the Apostle points out, to wash the saints' feet in olden times was a mark of special hospitality, and entitled the performer to a loving respect in the Church.--1 Tim. 5:10.
How many blessed opportunities we have for comforting, refreshing, consoling one another and assisting one another in some of the humblest affairs of life, or in respect to some of the unpleasant duties, experiences or trials of life. As our Golden Text expresses it, we are in love to serve one another and not through formality. Any service done or attempted to be done in love, with the desire to do good to one of the Lord's people, we may be sure has the divine approval and blessing. Let us lose no opportunities of this kind; let us remember the Master's example; let us, like our Master, not merely assume humility or pretend it, but actually have that humility which will permit us to do kindness and services to all with whom we come in contact, and proportionately enjoy this privilege as we find the needy ones to be members of the Lord's body--the Church.
As our Lord said to the disciples, "He that is bathed need not save to wash his feet," even so we may realize that all who are justified and consecrated members of his body have already had the bath, the washing of regeneration, and are already clean through the word spoken unto them. (John 15:3.) Nevertheless, although thus cleansed and sanctified, so long as we are in contact with the world we are liable to a certain degree of earthly defilement, and it especially behooves each one not only to look out for himself but to help one another to get rid of earthly defilements, thus serving his brethren, helping them in the weaknesses, trials and imperfections of the flesh, assisting them to become overcomers. In these respects he is cooperating in the great work of washing the saints' feet, cleansing from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the reverence of the Lord.--2 Cor. 7:1.
R2201 [col. 2 ¶3 to end]:
Our Lord's words to Peter, "If I wash thee not thou hast no part with me," certainly imply that the washing was more than a mere ceremony-- more also than a mere expression of humility, as we shall endeavor to show. Nevertheless, the principle should hold good in every time and in every clime: that whatever useful service can be rendered to a fellow-member of the body of Christ, however humble or menial, it should be performed, as unto the Lord.
Having finished the service the Master explained its significance. He had set them an example (1) of humility, in being willing to perform the most menial service to those who were truly his; (2) the washing was an illustration of a great truth, namely, that altho already cleansed by the Lord--justified freely from all things, through faith in him--yet that there were certain defilements which would attach to each of them so long as they would be in the world, from contact with its evils and besetments. While the general washing (justification) would stand good for all time, yet they would need continually (figuratively) to wash one another's feet--with the "washing of water by the word." (Eph. 5:26.) This would signify that they should have a mutual watch-care over one another's welfare; to keep each other clean, holy, pure, and to assist one another in overcoming the trials and temptations and besetments of this present evil world;--arising from the three sources of temptation, "the world, the flesh and the devil."
This cleansing work which is to be done for one another is in harmony with the injunction, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." They could not get each other into the love of God: that could be attained only in the one way; through the original cleansing of the precious blood, through faith; and no one can thus cleanse us or help us into divine favor, except the Redeemer himself. But he having cleansed us and brought us into divine favor, has commissioned us that we should help one another to "abide in his love" and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The merit, the way and the privilege are all of God through Christ. The agencies used in applying these to one another are ourselves. "Ye ought also to wash one another's feet;" to help keep each other separate from the world, and clean through the Word he has spoken unto us,--by "the washing of water by the Word;" "building one another up in the most holy faith."
This again reminds us of the Scriptural statement, in reference to the Church perfected and glorified, --"His wife hath made herself ready." (Rev. 19:7.) While the entire arrangement for her wedding robes, the washing of regeneration (justification) and the water for her feet-washing, are all provided for the bride through the agency of the Bridegroom, and she is thus made ready, yet the use of these means, the putting on of her adornment, the embroidering of her robes and the arrangement of the jewels presented to her through the spirit, is left for herself to do; each member of the body co-operating unto the edification of the whole body in love.--1 Thes. 5:11; Rom. 14:19.
It would doubtless be pleasing in the sight of the Master, our Head, that we should have a disposition to help and to reform the world in general, and to wash the vilest of the vile from all their sin; but however praiseworthy such a disposition might be, we are to remember that this is not the command which he has placed before us in our text. His injunction here is not to do general washing of all the unclean, but to do special washing for those whom he already has cleansed, justified, through faith. It is in respect to the fellow-members of his body that he has given this charge; and we emphasize it here, because this fact seems to be very generally overlooked by Christian people, who give their time rather to the outward cleansing, the moral and social uplifting, of those whose hearts have never been washed by the Master, and correspondingly neglect one another, his "feet." Yet, as already seen, preceding, tho it is a great honor to render such a service to one another, the privilege will be properly appreciated and much used only by the truly humble who have much love for the Master.
But, it requires peculiar qualifications to enable us to help each other in this respect; before we can help others to remove the motes out of their eyes, and to cleanse their way of life, in all its little particulars, so that every thought as well as every word and act shall be brought into subjection to the divine will, it is necessary that we have experiences along the same lines ourselves. We must endeavor to get rid of the motes and beams that would obstruct our own vision. We must cultivate purity in our own lives,--in our deeds, words and thoughts. Only as we cultivate the various graces of the spirit,--meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly-kindness, love, can we hope to be specially helpful to others in putting on these adornments of character and purities of life, and to get rid of defilements of the world, and the flesh.
To this end it will be found helpful to remember the lesson of Mary in her service to the Lord's literal feet. Many who would reject well-meaning criticisms of conduct, resent well-meant efforts to wash their feet, as interferences with their private business, would be very amenable to the influences of the same person if he approached them with such evidences of true devotion and loving interest as would be symbolized by tears. It is the sympathetic ones who are most successful in helping the various members of the body of Christ out of the difficulties, besetments and defilements incident to the following of the Lord in this present time. Oh, let us study and strive and pray that we may be very successful in obeying the Master's words, "Ye also ought to wash one another's feet."
It will also be a great help and comfort to the fellow members of the body, if in connection with these efforts to help one another in the cleansing of our ways, by taking heed unto the Word of the Lord, we will have with us also some of the precious ointment of sympathetic and, as far as possible, commendatory and encouraging words, and helpful assistance: for all the members of the feet class who are seeking to walk worthy of the Lord need the ointment of sympathy and encouragement, as offsets to the trials, difficulties and persecutions incident to the "narrow way," coming to them from the great Adversary and his blinded servants.
46. How jealously should we guard and increase this grace of brotherly kindness?
47. How may we cultivate brotherly love?
48. What additional thoughts are found in Topical Index of ‘Heavenly Manna, ‘ under ‘Love One Another‘?