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?
Joh 13:34; 15:10, 12, 17; 1Jo 4:21; R2649 col. 1 ¶1, 2; 1Jo 3:11, 23; John 15:12; R2620 col. 2 ¶5
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 15:10,12,17 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. [vs. 12] This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. [vs. 17] These things I command you, that ye love one another.
1 John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
R2649 [col. 1 ¶1, 2]:
This reminds us of our dear Redeemer, in whom verily the love of the Father was perfected, and who is represented by the Prophet as saying, "I delight to do thy will, O God; yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psalm 40:8.) And our Lord marked out the same spirit, as being essential to those who would be his disciples, saying, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:10.) There is no suggestion in any of these or in other Scriptures that mere outward formalistic obedience and piety count anything with the Lord. The Lord "seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth"--such as have the spirit of righteousness, love for righteousness, love for truth, love for all the qualities of the divine character, and a desire to conform thereto in thought, word and deed.
Nor are we to make the mistake that some have made, of supposing that the commandments referred to by our Lord are the Ten Commandments upon which hung the covenant which God made with the Jews. We are not Jews, and hence have nothing whatever to do with their covenant, given through Moses, its mediator, at Sinai, nor with the Law upon which it was based. We are Christians, and have to do with a better covenant, sealed with the precious blood of Christ our Mediator, and based upon a still higher law than the Decalogue --a law which instead of saying, "Thou shalt not" do this, "Thou shalt not" do that, is positive, and declares what we shall do, saying, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy being, with all thy strength; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This is a higher law, of which our Lawgiver, Jesus, said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love," and of which the Apostle said, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." The Apostle John says, "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God; he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."--1 John 4:8,16.
1 John 3:11,23 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. [vs. 23] And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
R2620 [col. 2 ¶5]:
One lesson connected with this subject which should specially commend itself to any of the Lord's people who are masters or employers is the lesson of kindness for servants. If a Gentile would be so careful for the interests of his servant, and thus bestir and trouble himself much to secure his release from pain, much more should every true Christian not only feel a kindliness for those who are of the household of faith, but also be disposed to do good unto all men as they may have opportunity. We may be sure that all such evidences of interest in fellow-creatures, all such evidences of the spirit of love and kindness, are pleasing in the Lord's sight; and not only so, but that every time we exercise ourselves along such lines we deepen them and strengthen, confirm and establish character along the lines of love and mercy. This is one of the ways in which we are to develop ourselves more and more as copies of God's dear Son.--Rom. 8:29.
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?
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?
All thus marked by the holy Spirit as prospective members of the New Creation are assured by the Lord, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." "I have chosen you [out of the world], and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." "If ye were of the world the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:16,19; 17:16) Although these marks of sanctification may, to some extent, be discerned by the world, we are not, therefore, to expect that they will bring the world's admiration or approval; but, rather, that they will consider these evidences of the holy Spirit upon the New Creatures as evidences of weakness and effeminacy. The world appreciates and approves what it would designate a robust and strenuous life--not righteous over-much. Our Lord explains to us why the world would not approve his followers; namely, because the darkness hateth the light--because the standard of his Royal Priesthood for thought and word and action would be higher than the standard of mankind in general, and would, therefore, seem to more or less condemn their course. The world desires rather to be approved, to be flattered; and whatever in any degree casts reflection upon it is to that extent avoided, if not opposed. This disapproval of the worldly-wise of Christendom constitutes a part of the testing of the Royal Priesthood; and if their consecration be not a most hearty one they will so miss the fellowship of the world and so crave its approval that they will fail to carry out in the proper spirit the sacrificing of earthly interests which they have undertaken--fail to be priests; hence, fail to be of the New Creation. However, on account of their good intentions, the Lord may bring them through the fiery trials, for the destruction of the flesh which they had not the zeal to sacrifice: thus they may be counted worthy of a share in the blessings and rewards of the Great Company that shall come up out of great tribulation to serve before the throne, in which the little flock will sit with the Lord.
17. How should brotherly kindness deal with the self-seeking ?
18. How will brotherly kindness deal with brethren who lack self- control?
F148 ¶2 to 150 ¶1
F148 [¶2] through F150 [¶1]:
Another class of the consecrated, but spiritually diseased, needs consideration. These, apparently justified by faith and sincere in their consecration, seem to make little or no progress in controlling their flesh. Indeed, in some instances, it would appear that their faith in God's goodness and mercy, removing the brakes of fear, have left them rather more exposed to temptation through weaknesses of the flesh than they were at first-- when they had less knowledge of the Lord. These have experiences which are very trying, not to themselves only, but to the entire household of faith with whom they come in contact; their lives seem to be a succession of failures and repentances, some along the lines of financial inconsistencies, others along the lines of moral and social delinquencies.
What is the remedy for this condition of things? We answer that they should be distinctly informed that the New Creation will not be composed of those who merely covenant self-denials and self-sacrifices in earthly things and to walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit; but of those who, because of faithfulness in the willing endeavor to keep this covenant, will be counted overcomers by him who readeth the heart. They should be instructed that the proper method of procedure for all the consecrated is that, being made free by the Son, they should be so anxious to attain all blessings incident to divine favor, that they would voluntarily become bond-servants-- putting themselves under certain restrictions, limitations, bondage, as respects their words, their conduct, their thoughts--earnestly desiring of the Lord in prayer the aid he has promised them, expressed in his words to the Apostle, "My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness." Each time they find that they have transgressed they should not only make amends to those injured, but also make confession to the Lord, and by faith obtain his forgiveness--they should promise greater diligence for the future, and should increase the limitations of their own liberties along the lines of weakness ascertained by their latest failure.
Thus watching and praying, and setting guards upon the actions and words of life, and bringing "every thought into captivity" to the will of God in Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), it will surely not be long until they can assure themselves and the brethren also respecting the sincerity of their hearts, and walk in life so circumspectly that all may be able to discern, not only that they have been with Jesus, but also that they have learned of him, and have sought and used his assistance in gaining victories over their weaknesses. The cases of such brethren or sisters would come under the head of what the Apostle terms "walking disorderly"--not after the example of the Lord and the apostles. In another chapter we will see the Lord's direction respecting the manner in which those weak in the flesh and who bring dishonor and discredit upon the Lord's cause should be treated by the brethren.
Here we remark, however, that so long as they give evidence of repentance for their wrong course and a desire of heart to go in the right way and of continued faith and trust in the Lord, they must be esteemed as brethren--however necessary it may be to restrict fellowship with them until they have given some outward, tangible demonstration of the power of grace in their hearts in the restraint of their fleshly weaknesses. Nevertheless, they are still to be encouraged to believe that the Lord is very merciful to those who trust him and who at heart desire his ways, although they cannot be encouraged to expect that they could ever be counted worthy of the overcoming class unless they become so earnest in their zeal for righteousness that their flesh will show some considerable evidence of its subjection to the New Mind.
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’?
1Th 5:14; F292 ¶2; F298, 299; F303 ¶1; F307 ¶2; R3034 col. 2 ¶2 to R3035 col. 2 ¶1; R3092 col. 1 ¶1
1 Thes. 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
In carrying out the findings of the Church court, the matter rests with each individual; hence, each must discern the justice of the decision for himself. The penalty of withdrawal of fellowship is designed to be a correction in righteousness, and is of the Lord's prescribing. It is to serve as a protection to the Church, to separate those who walk disorderly, not after the spirit of love. It is not to be esteemed a perpetual separation, but merely until the reproved one shall recognize and acknowledge his wrong and to the extent of his ability make amends.
F297 [¶2] through F299--"Warn Them That Are Unruly"
"We exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men." 1 Thess. 5:14,15
This exhortation is not to elders, but to the entire Church, including the elders. It takes cognizance of the fact that although the entire Church, as God's New Creation, has a perfect standing before him as New Creatures in Christ Jesus, nevertheless each and all of them have their imperfections according to the flesh. It shows, further, what we all recognize; viz., that there are differences in the degrees and in the kinds of our fleshly imperfections; so that, as in children of an earthly family different dispositions require different treatment by the parents, much more in the family of God there are such wide differences of disposition as to require special consideration one for the other. To take notice of each other's imperfections, from the standpoint of criticism, would be to do ourselves much injury, cultivating in our hearts a faultfinding disposition, keenly awake to the weaknesses and imperfections of others, and proportionately, perhaps, inclined to be blind to our own defects. Such criticism is entirely foreign to the spirit and intention of the Apostle's exhortation.
Those are addressed who have been begotten of the spirit of the truth, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of humility, the spirit of love. Such as are thus growing in the graces of the Spirit, will fear and criticize chiefly their own defects; while their love for others will lead them to make as many mental excuses and allowances for them as possible. But while this spirit of love is properly condoning the offenses and weaknesses of the brethren, it is to be on the alert, nevertheless, to do them good--not by bickering, strife, contention, chiding, faultfinding and slandering one another, but in a manner such as the Golden Rule, would approve. With gentleness, meekness, long-suffering and patience, it will seek to make allowance for each other's weaknesses, and at the same time to help each other out of them, each remembering his own weaknesses of some kind.
The unruly are not to be comforted and supported and encouraged in their wrong way; but in kindness, in love, they are to be admonished that God is a God of order; and that in proportion as we would grow in his likeness and favor we must observe rules of order. They should be admonished that nothing is further from the divine arrangement than anarchy; and that as even worldly people recognize the principle that the worst form of government imaginable is preferable to anarchy, so much the more should God's people, who have received the spirit of a sound mind, the holy Spirit, recognize this same principle in the Church; and the Apostle exhorts us to submit ourselves one to the other, for the sake of the general interests of the Lord's cause. If we were all perfect, and our judgment of the Lord's will perfect, we would all think exactly the same--there would be no particular necessity for submitting one to another; but since our judgments differ, it is necessary that each consider the other and the other's standpoint of observation and judgment, and that each seek to yield something in the interest of general peace --yea, to yield everything so as to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace in the body of Christ, except where principle would be infringed by such a course.
The unruly or disorderly are not entirely to blame for their condition, perhaps. Many people are born disorderly and inclined to be so in their dress and in all their affairs in life. Disorderliness, therefore, is a part of their weakness, which should be thought of sympathetically, kindly, but, nevertheless, should not be permitted to do injury to the Church of God, to hinder its usefulness, to prevent its cooperation in the study and service of the Truth. It is not the will of God that his people should have that meekness which would amount to weakness in dealing with disorderly persons. Kindly, lovingly, but firmly, they should be shown that, as order is heaven's first law, so it must be highly esteemed amongst those who are heavenly-minded; and that it would be sinful for the congregation to permit one or two or more of its members to do violence to the divine regulations, as expressed in the Word of God and as generally understood by the congregation with which he is associated.
But in respect to others, who "walk disorderly," the regulation is very different. Such an excluded brother or sister should not be treated as an enemy, nor thought of as such; but as an erring brother, as the Apostle says further on in this same epistle, "If any man obey not our word by this epistle [if he be disorderly, unwilling to submit himself to sound reasoning and loving, generous rules of order] note that man, and have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed; yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2 Thess. 3:14,15) Such a case as this would imply some open, public opposition on the part of the brother to the rules of order laid down by the Apostle, as the Lord's mouthpiece; and such a public opposition to right principles should be rebuked by the congregation, should they decide that the brother is so out of order that he needs admonishing; and if he does not consent to the form of sound words, sent us by our Lord through the Apostle, he should be considered as so out of accord as to make it no longer proper that he should have the fellowship of the brethren until he would consent to these reasonable requirements. He should not be passed by on the street unnoticed by the brethren, but be treated courteously. The exclusion should be merely from the privileges of the assembly and from any special brotherly associations, etc., peculiar to the faithful. This is implied also in our Lord's words, "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Our Lord did not mean that we should do injury to a heathen man or a publican, nor treat either in any manner unkindly; but merely that we should not fellowship such as brethren, nor seek their confidences, nor as New Creatures give them ours. The household of faith is to be cemented and bound together with mutual love and sympathy, and expressions of these in various ways. It is from the lack of these privileges and blessings that the excluded brother is caused to suffer, until he feels that he must reform his ways and return to the family gathering. There is a suggestion in this respect to warmth, to cordiality, to true brotherliness, that should prevail amongst those who are members of the Lord's body.
F307 [¶2]--"See That None Render Evil for Evil"
This is more than an individual advice: it is an injunction, addressed to the Church as a whole, and is applicable to each congregation of the Lord's people. It implies that if some of the household of faith are disposed to take vengeance, to retaliate, to render evil for evil, either upon brother members or upon those outside, that the Church will not be acting the part of a busybody in taking notice of such a course. It is the duty of the Church to see to this. "See that no man render evil for evil," means, give attention to it that this proper spirit is observed in your midst amongst the brethren. If, therefore, the elders should learn of such occasions as would be covered by this injunction, it would be their duty kindly to admonish the brothers or the sisters respecting the Word of the Lord; and, if they will not hear, it would be the duty of the former to bring the matter before the congregation, etc., etc. And here is the Church's commission to take cognizance of such an improper course on the part of any. Not only are we thus to see one another, and to look out for each other with kindly interest, to note that backward steps are not taken, but we are to see to it that, on the contrary, all follow after that which is good. We should rejoice in and commend every evidence of progress in a right way, giving it our support as individuals and as congregations of the Lord's people. By thus doing, as the Apostle suggests, we may rejoice evermore, and with good cause; for so helping one another the body of Christ will make increase of itself in love, growing more and more in the likeness of the Head, and becoming more and more fit for joint-heirship with him in the Kingdom.
R3034 [col. 2 ¶3] through R3035 [col. 2 ¶1]
We are at present specially referring to the proper attitude to be observed toward unruly brethren--they are not to be treated as those who are esteemed very highly in love for their works; otherwise they would be encouraged in being unruly. On the contrary they are to be warned, cautioned,--in love, truly, and with patience, but not with marks of the same love and esteem as tho they were walking orderly in the footsteps of Jesus and in harmony with the directions of his Word. The marks and evidences of our love and esteem must be sincere; and must be in proportion as we see in the brethren evidences of the right desires of heart,--to walk after the spirit of the truth. The Apostle Paul intimates how our disapproval ought to be shown, in cases which seem, in our judgment, to be of sufficient importance to demand a manifestation of disapproval.
Evidently the Apostle did not mean that the brethren should be watching each other for an occasion of fault-finding in every word and every act; but that, on the contrary, they should be so full of love one for the other that trivial matters would be entirely passed over, as merely of the weakness of the flesh, and not at all of intention, of the heart. The matters to be considered worthy of manifestations of disapproval and warning are, rather, those which are so open and manifest on the surface as to leave no room to question the fact that they are displeasing to the Lord, and injurious in their influence upon the brother or upon the household of faith. For instance, if the brother had been seen under the influence of liquor; if he had been heard to utter vile or otherwise improper language; if it were a matter of general knowledge that he was living in sin; these would be such grounds as we believe the Apostle had in mind. But evidently the Apostle had no intention of cultivating a spirit of fault-finding and judging one another as respects the heart and private affairs,--use of time or money, etc. These belong to our individual stewardship and none should endeavor to interfere with the proper liberties of conscience and conduct which the Lord has granted to each. The Apostle is very stringent in his condemnation of such judging of one another, which so often leads to roots of bitterness, misunderstanding, disfellowship, etc., and which, as the old leaven, should be purged out of our hearts and lives.--Rom. 14:10,13.
But now, for those who "obey not our word," the apostolic Scriptural directions in respect to their conduct, etc., is "note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." Nevertheless, knowing the tendency of the fallen mind to go from one extreme to another, either of too great leniency or of too great severity, the apostle continues, "Yet count him not an enemy, but admonish as a brother." (2 Thess. 3:13-15.) To admonish as a brother does not mean to denounce roundly and severely; it means to admonish in a spirit of love, gentleness, meekness, patience, and with a sincere desire to help the brother to see the fault which we are certain exists, and which we are sure is not evil surmising on our part.
The Apostle John shows us that this matter of distinguishing as between brethren that are to be esteemed and brethren that are to be warned, appertains not merely to conduct but also to doctrinal matters. Yet we may be sure that he does not mean that we are to disfellowship a brother merely because of some differences of view on non-essential questions. We may be sure that he does mean his words to apply strictly and only to the fundamentals of the doctrine of Christ: for instance, faith in God; faith in Jesus as our Redeemer; faith in the promises of the divine Word. These will be marks of a "brother," if supported by Christian conduct, walking after the spirit of the truth;--even tho the brother might have other views which would differ from ours in respect to certain features of the plan of God not so clearly and specifically set forth in the Scriptures. But for those whom we recognize as being doctrinally astray from the foundation principles of Christ, the Apostle intimates that very drastic measures are appropriate;--not persecutions, nor railing; not bitter and acrimonious disputes; not hatred, either open or secret; but a proper showing of our disfellowship with the false doctrines held and taught by them; a proper protection, so that our influence shall not be in any manner or degree used to uphold his denial of the fundamentals of the Gospel. This drastic course is outlined by the Apostle in these words: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [confessing Christ to have come into the world, in the flesh, to redeem our race, etc.] receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds."--2 John 10,11.
But, as our text intimates, we are to use discretion, judgment,--"and of some have compassion, making a difference." Some we may recognize as being merely entrapped of the Adversary, either in sin or in false doctrine, as the case may be, and not wilfully, intelligently, of their own volition. Toward such, still maintaining an attitude of firmness, we are nevertheless to express freely our trust that they are only temporarily wrong; and to seek to restore them, either doctrinally or in respect to their perverse moral course, to the position of fellowship with the Lord and with all the brethren who are in fellowship with him. Others we are to "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." We may be obliged to speak very plainly to them; we may be obliged to tear open and expose before their eyes the sores of their own immoral course, showing them, as the case may be, the grossness of the sin or the grossness of the error in which they are involved; and doing so perhaps in strong language, if we realize that nothing short of this has availed to arouse them from their lethargy. In pulling them out of sin we are "pulling them out of the fire"-- out of the Second Death--as the Apostle James says, speaking of this same class: "Let him know that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death"--a brother who is a sinner, a brother, he explains, who has "erred from the truth." --James 5:19,20.
Finally, we remark that the dealing of the brethren with the disorderly is not to be in the nature of a punishment; for it is not with us to punish. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Our warnings or reproofs or withdrawals of fellowship, are to be merely in the nature of correctives, with a view, as the Apostle says, to the restoring of such an one. "Ye that are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted";--if not in the same manner, possibly in some other manner, in which you are weaker .--Gal. 6:1.
As to what would be a sufficiency of evidence of repentance and reformation, each will require great wisdom and grace to determine. The heart in which brotherly love dwells richly, the heart which loves righteousness and hates iniquity, the heart which realizes its own imperfections, and that it is acceptable only through the Beloved and the New Covenant--that heart will rejoice at the first evidences of contrition and repentance on the part of the disorderly brother. If very full of love, his heart may go out to him almost too quickly; he may need to restrain himself; especially if it be a second or a third offense of the kind, or the circumstances otherwise very grievous. It will be apparently his duty to look for works in harmony with the repentance, and to wait to see some demonstration, in the nature of restitution for wrong done, or such an open and radical change of conduct as will give evidence that the heart has returned to its loyalty to God, to the truth, and to righteousness.
R3092 [col. 1 ¶1]:
Let us not be misunderstood; the Scriptures nowhere teach that all men are brethren in the spiritual sense; on the contrary, they teach that the unjustified are not God's children, but "children of wrath," and some of them are so thoroughly evil that from God's standpoint they are of "their father the devil"; we are to recognize as brethren in Christ only the household of faith, and to draw a sharp line of demarcation in our minds and in our salutations as between these and the children of this world. This does not imply either that the children of this world are to be treated unkindly by us or insulted or offended; rather they are to have our sympathy, our love, to whatever extent possible, our assistance as the Apostle suggests. We are to "do good unto all men as we have opportunity," especially unto the household of faith, --the brethren. Brethren are still to be recognized even though they fall into difficulty, dangerous snares of the adversary; and if it be necessary that our fellowship be withdrawn for a time, it is merely with the view to assist them back to their proper relationship to the Lord and back to our love and sympathy in fullest measure; as the Apostle says even such are to be treated, not as enemies, but, as misguided brethren for whose recovery we are to be willing to lay down even our lives--an hour here, another hour there, an effort for this one and an effort for another one because they are the Lord's. It is only after such brethren have turned back from the Lord's service like a "sow to her wallowing in the mire" or after they have discarded the redemptive work of Christ like the man in the parable who took off the wedding garment--only then are we to esteem them as enemies, adversaries, and even then we are not to bring against them a railing accusation, but to leave the matter for the Lord's judgment.--2 Thess. 3:15.
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’?
27. How should brotherly kindness deal with serious offenders in the Church?
F302; F417 ¶2 and 418
While considering this phase of the subject, we might pause a moment to inquire the extent to which the Church, directly or indirectly, or through its elders, is to exercise this duty of admonishing the disorderly, and of eventually excluding them from the assembly. It is not within the power of the Church to exclude permanently. The brother who, having offended either a brother member or the whole Church body, returns again and says, "I repent of my wrong course, and promise my best endeavors to do right in the future," or the equivalent of this, is to be forgiven-- fully, freely--as heartily as we hope the Lord will forgive the trespasses of all. No one but the Lord has the power or authority to cut off any individual everlastingly--the power to sever a branch from the Vine. We are informed that there is a sin unto death, for which it is useless to pray (1 John 5:16); and we are to expect that such a wilful sin as would thus bring the penalty of the Second Death would be so open, so flagrant, as to be readily discerned by those who are in fellowship with the Lord. We are not to judge of any by what is in their hearts, for we cannot read their hearts; but if they commit wilful sin unto death it will surely become manifest outwardly--by their lips, if they are doctrinal transgressions, denying the precious blood of atonement; or by their immoralities, if they have turned to walk after the flesh, "like the sow that is washed, to her wallowing in the mire." It is respecting such as these, referred to in Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31, that the Apostle warns us to have no dealings whatever--not to eat with them, not to receive them into our houses, and not to bid them Godspeed (2 John 9-11); because those who would affiliate with them or bid them Godspeed would be accounted as taking their places as enemies of God, and as partaking of the evil deeds or evil doctrines, as the case might be.
F417 [¶2] through F418-- Offenses Against the Church
We have considered the procedure proper in judging offenses against the individual; but in the case of the fornicator mentioned by the Apostle, and in other supposable cases, the offense might be against no particular member of the Ecclesia; but against the whole--against the cause we unitedly represent. What then should be the mode of procedure?
It might be the same as in the individual grievance, if the sin were not public property. But if the matter were publicly known, it would be the duty of the elders to cite the offender before the Church for trial, without the preliminary private visits; because the publicity had taken it beyond any private settlement. Likewise, if it were a case of slander against the elders or any of them, the hearing should be by the Church and not privately; because the slanderers, if they conscientiously thought they had a good cause, yet had neglected the Lord's rule ("Go to him alone," and afterward "Take with thee two or three others") and had spread scandalous and defamatory tales, had thereby carried the matter beyond the power of individual rectification and made it a matter for the Church.
In such cases it would be proper for the slandered Elder to call together the Board of Elders as representatives of the Church, and to deny the calumnies and ask that the slanderers be indicted to answer charges of slander and false-witnessing before the Church; because their offense was toward the Church (1) in that it was contrary to the rules laid down by the Head of the Church and contrary to decency and good morals; and (2) because the slander being against an Elder chosen by the Church was thus a slander against the entire Church selecting him. The slanderers should be condemned and rebuked and required to acknowledge their error; but after doing this they would have a right to proceed against the Elder supposed to be in error, just as they should have done at first.
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’?
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‘?