Berean Studies / Ber06 - Brotherly Kindness (Brotherly Love)
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
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’?
Mt 12:50; R2235 col. 1 ¶5- 7; R2647 col. 1 ¶5, 6; R3219 col. 1 ¶6, 7; E108 ¶2
Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
R2235 [col. 1 ¶5-7]:
The Apostle follows the example of our Lord Jesus in symbolizing truth and righteousness as Light, and sin and every evil way as so much of opposing Darkness. God himself thus considered would be the very perfection of light,--"in him is no darkness," no sin, no imperfection. With this thought before the mind, the Apostle points out that any growth of fellowship with God which we may aspire to, must be along the lines of truth, goodness, purity; and he points out that it would be sin for us to say to others or to imagine in our own hearts that we are walking with God and having fellowship with him, if our course of life is a dark, a sinful one. Such are merely deceiving themselves and others: they are not deceiving God, and they are not getting the blessings of those who do "walk in the light."
Moreover, to the extent that we walk in the light and in harmony and fellowship with God, we will find ourselves in fellowship with all others who are like-minded. So then, if we do not "love the brethren, whom we have seen," so as to be able to have fellowship and spiritual pleasure with them, that would be an indication that we are not wholly in harmony and fellowship with God. But who are the "brethren?" Our Lord tells us that not all who profess his name are true brethren; he says, "Not everyone that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven [be recognized as his brethren and joint-heirs], but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." We thus see that it is by our deeds and not merely by our professions that we are accepted of the Lord who again says, "Who are my brethren?...Verily, I say unto you he that doeth the will of my Father the same is my brother."--Matt. 7:21; 12:50.
So then, we are not to anticipate "fellowship" with all who name the name of Christ as a proof of fellowship with the Father, and that we are in the light: we are merely to anticipate this true fellowship with those who are earnestly seeking to do the Father's will, to serve his cause and exemplify the instructions of his Word, in their deeds as well as in their professions. Between all such there must be, whether hidden or open, a bond of fellowship and union--that bond is the one faith and one baptism into the one Lord.
R2647 [col. 1 ¶5, 6]:
Our standard of orthodoxy as applied not to sects but to Christians, personally, recognizes as correct and sound in doctrine all who acknowledge the following points. (1) That he is by nature a member of the fallen, condemned race and hence a child of wrath even as others, and justly under the divine sentence of condemnation. (2) That Christ died for the ungodly, for Adam and all his condemned race; and hence God can now be just in justifying him and all who believe in Jesus. (3) That his justification is the basis of his call to full consecration in self-sacrifice, and that he has thus devoted his all to the Lord, in exchange for the share in the Millennial Kingdom which the Lord has promised to all such "overcomers." -- Rev. 2:26; 3:12,21.
All the above described class are properly recognized as "orthodox" and "brethren," however they may differ on minor details in the correct knowledge of which they may be expected to grow under the Lord's guidance;--building one another up in [the details of] their most holy faith, as revealed in the Word of the Lord, which, as they come more and more to understand it, will make them wiser and wiser respecting the good and acceptable and perfect will of God,--unto salvation,--until salvation actual, the "crown of life," with glory, honor and immortality, shall be the grand outcome of the finished race.
R3219 [col. 1 ¶6, 7]:
Question.--What should be our attitude toward professing Christians of the various denominations who give evidence of but slight knowledge of the truth, and but slight appreciation of the ransom? Should we consider them brethren in Christ? and should we fellowship them as such? or should we treat them as heathen men and publicans?
Answer.--All who profess love to the Lord Jesus Christ and have faith in him as their Savior--even though their knowledge of his redemptive work be but limited and vague--and whose general conduct is noted as indicating their desire to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh, should be considered and treated as brethren. But when we use the word "brother" we are to remember that amongst believers there are two classes of brethren: (1) Those who have merely pledged themselves to the Lord for a reformation of life, and who are to some extent trusting in the Savior; and (2) those who have gone on and who have consecrated their lives even unto death, and have been begotten as new creatures by the holy spirit. These are brethren of a different order; the first were typified in the Levites, the last in the priests. Both are our brethren, and both should be treated courteously, kindly, helpfully; but it would be impossible to fellowship the first class in the same manner or degree that we would fellowship the second class. In considering the Church, only the latter should be counted, because the Church is the body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood. Only the latter, therefore, should be expected to participate in the Memorials of the Lord's death, and the pledge of consecration to be dead with him. It is to the first of these classes of brethren (typified by the Levites) that the Apostle addressed the exhortation, "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies living sacrifices," etc. (Rom. 12:1.) Those who follow this exhortation and make the sacrificial consecration, thereby become brethren on the highest plane of the spirit, and thus become members of the highest degree of fellowship as members of the body of the Anointed One.
But our Lord's "brethren" were not immaculate, were not separate from sinners. How, then, could he be "made like unto his brethren," and yet be separate from sinners? The answer to this question is found in the recognition of the fact that the world of mankind, sinners in general, are not the ones who are referred to as "his brethren." The man Adam, indeed, was a son of God at his creation, and up to the time of his transgression (Luke 3:38), but not subsequently. And all of his race are Scripturally designated "children of wrath." (Eph. 2:3) Only those who have "escaped the condemnation that is on the world," and who have gotten back into harmony with God, through Christ, are Scripturally authorized to consider themselves the sons of God. (John 1:12) Of the others, our Lord declares, "Ye are of your father, the devil, for his works ye do." (John 8:44) Our Lord Jesus never counted himself in as one of the children of the devil, nor as one of the "children of wrath," but declared that he "proceeded forth and came from God." Neither did he recognize as "his brethren" any of those who were still "children of wrath." The only ones recognized as the "Lord's brethren" are those who, having escaped the condemnation that is on the world, have been brought nigh to the Father through the blood of Christ, and have received "the spirit of adoption" into God's family, and the promise of full "adoption of sons" at the establishment of the Kingdom. (Rom. 8:15,23; Gal. 4:5) It is because these are justified, reckonedly freed from Adamic guilt and reckonedly constituted righteous, through the blood of Christ, that they are in any sense of the word like our Lord Jesus, "his brethren," on a similar footing of divine favor and separateness from the world. Of the consecrated of this class our Lord says, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." "I have chosen you out of the world." (John 15:19; 17:16) From this standpoint it can readily be seen that our Lord was "made like unto his brethren"--exactly, in every particular. Not that his "brethren" were in this condition at the time he humbled himself and was made flesh--he had no brethren at that time, except as this class was foreknown of God. (Eph. 1:5,11; Rom. 8:29) But the divine arrangement was such that God foresaw that he could be just, and yet justify those of the sinner race who accepted divine grace through Christ, and whose sins were, on this account, covered, not imputed to them, but imputed to him who "bore our sins in his own body on the tree." God forearranged, foreknew, his purpose to call out the Gospel Church to be "joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord," to the inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven. And it was in view of this prearranged plan that all who will constitute this class were spoken of in advance, through the prophets, as the "brethren" of Christ. Prophetically, our Lord is represented as saying to the Father, "I have declared thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the Church have I sung thy praise." (Psa. 22:22; Heb. 2:12) Since this was the divine program--that our Lord should not only be the Redeemer of the world, but also a pattern for the "brethren" who would be his joint-heirs--therefore, in carrying out this divine program it was fitting that he should in all his trials and experiences be "made like unto his 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’?
1Jo 3:16; R2343 col. 2 ¶2; R2751 col. 2 ¶4; R2807 col. 2 ¶9 ‘We are to ... ‘; F468 ¶1 and 469
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
R2343 [col. 2 ¶2]:
The foundation principles of the Christian religion are laid upon these lines, which are the reverse of the world's lines of thought and conduct; namely, that the greatest one in the Church is the one who is the greatest servant, the one who renders most assistance to others. The greatest servant in the Church was the great Head of the Church himself, who gave even his life on our behalf. And those of his followers who desire to be great in the estimation of the Lord and so esteemed of their fellows, are enjoined that they should follow closely in the Master's footsteps, and with humility of heart be ready and seek to lay down their lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16.) Nor does this mean simply formal service; it means an actual service. Our Lord's sacrifice, we see, was not merely a form or a show of interest and of love: it was the giving of his life as the purchase price for ours. So with us; we are not merely to love one another and to serve one another, in word, in profession, in title (as for instance, the word "minister" signifies servant); but we are to serve one another as we are to love one another, "in deed and in truth."--1 John 3:18.
R2751 [col. 2 ¶4]:
For these reasons we are expecting great things in the way of progress of the truth in the near future. We believe it the duty, as well as the pleasure, of all who have been enlightened of God through the harvest message, to spread the good tidings abroad,--to hand out to famishing brethren the meat in due season which has so strengthened our own hearts. And this seems to be more and more the spirit of the Lord's brethren, as they receive of the Lord's grace and truth and become more and more copies of God's dear Son, and have more and more of his spirit of willingness to serve the brethren, and, as the Apostle suggests, are willing to lay down their lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16)--not literally, but day by day and opportunity by opportunity--willing to sacrifice the comforts and advantages which, to the natural man, go to make up the sum of earthly life and happiness. They take pleasure in renouncing earthly privileges and luxuries, and even some of life's comforts, that they may spend the more of their substance and be the more spent themselves in doing good unto all men, especially to the household of faith, and especially in the higher spiritual good things which they have the inestimable privilege of dispensing as servants of our present Lord.--Matt. 24:45.
R2807 [col. 2 ¶9]:
We are to recognize as "brethren" those who have only the phileo, degree of duty-love, as Paul did when he wrote, "Greet [for me] all that love [phileo], us in the faith" (Titus 3:15); but we are to see to it that we "love the brotherhood" (1 Pet. 2:17) with agape or higher love, which counts not present life precious and to be saved, but gladly lays down life for the brethren--in daily and hourly sacrifices of time and money and all earthly interests on their behalf. --1 John 3:16.
F468 [¶1] through F469 [¶1]:
The same thought is again expressed in the words, "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:16) What a brotherhood is thus implied! Where else could we hope to find such love for the brethren as would lay down life itself on their behalf? We are not now speaking of how the Lord may be pleased to apply the sacrifice of the Church, represented in the "Lord's goat" as a part of the Atonement Day sacrifices.* We merely, with the Apostle, note the fact that, so far as we are concerned, the sacrifice, the laying down of life, is to be done in the main for the brethren--in their service; the service for the world belongs chiefly to the age to come, the Millennium. Under present conditions, our time and talents and influence and means are, more or less, mortgaged to others (the wife or children or aged parents or others depending on us), and we are obligated also to the provision of "things needful," "decent," and "honest in the sight of all men" for ourselves. Hence, we find comparatively little left at our disposal for sacrifice, comparatively little to lay down for the brethren, and this little the world and the flesh and the devil are continually attempting to claim from us, and to divert from the sacrificing to which we have consecrated it.
The Lord's selection of the Church, during this time when evil prevails, is to the intent that surrounding circumstances may prove the measure of the love and loyalty of each to him and his. If our love be cool, the claims of the world, the flesh and the Adversary will be too much for us, and attract our time, our influence, our money. On the other hand, in proportion as our love for the Lord is strong and warm, in that same proportion we will delight to sacrifice these to him--not only to give our surplus of energy and influence and means, laying these down as we find opportunity in the service of the brethren, but additionally, this spirit of devotion to the Lord will prompt us to curtail within reasonable, economical limits the demands of the home and family, and especially of self, that we may have the more to sacrifice upon the Lord's altar. As our Lord was for three and a half years breaking his body, and for three and a half years giving his blood, his life, and only finished these sacrifices at Calvary, so with us: the laying down of our lives for the brethren is in small affairs of service, either temporal or spiritual, the spiritual being the higher, and hence the more important, though he who would shut up his compassion toward a brother having temporal need would give evidence that he did not have the Spirit of the Lord ruling in his heart in any proper degree.
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?
19. How should brotherly kindness seek to avoid ‘busy- bodying’?
20. How should brotherly love control the tongue?
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 ?
F289- 292; R2666 col. 1 ¶2, 3; F402 ¶2 to 406; F414 ¶2 to 417
Matthew 18:15-18 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
R2431--"Instructions for the Body of Christ":
And our Lord not only approved of judging on the part of the Church, but gave explicit directions to all its individuals respecting how to avoid judging one another and how to submit themselves to the judgment of the Church as the body of Christ.
(1) They were to avoid judging a brother or sister guilty of wilful wrong-doing and were to attempt to reason the matter out privately, that the one or the other might see his error.
(2) If this proved unavailing, the one feeling himself aggrieved (yet still not judging his brother wilfully guilty) is to call in two or three brethren to hear both sides of the controversy. (As the Apostle suggests, those called in should be "wise"--1 Cor. 6:5;--such as both the accuser and the accused would recognize, and whose judgment they would respect and follow.)
(3) If these brethren, called on to act as judges, and his own choice of "wise" brethren, give their verdict against the accuser, that should settle the matter: the accuser should recognize his error. Not to do so would imply that he was not seeking to ascertain the truth, but that he had judged his brother personally, the very thing that both the Lord and the Apostle warn us against. If the accuser be not able to see matters fully in the same light as his "brethren," he should nevertheless accept their decision and trust and pray to the Lord that he would be guided into clearer views. But should the brethren, called in to judge, agree with the accuser, the accused of course should yield,--especially if he had acknowledged the judges to be "wise." The violator of the judgment of such "wise" brethren (if the matter were considered of sufficient importance) was to be charged and the cause heard before the Church-- whose decision was to be final; and disregard of its decision implied excommunication.--Matt. 18:15-35.
We have examined this question somewhat in detail, because fearful that something in our last issue might have seemed to sanction personal judging. The Lord, however, does recognize his Church and does promise to act through it and to give his judgment thus to those who seek it, promising in this very connection that, Where two or three are gathered in his name, he is in their midst. The great difficulty with many is their lack of faith; they do not believe the Lord's Word, nor trust to his providences, but want to take matters into their own hands. And this is particularly the case with those who are in the wrong.
F289 through F292--Discipline in the Ecclesia (Matt. 18:15-18)
The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only, but of the entire Church. If one appears to be in error or in sin, his supposed wrong should be pointed out to the erring one only by the one he has injured, or by the member first discovering the wrong. If the reproved one fails to clear himself, and continues in the error or sin, then two or three brethren without previous prejudice should be asked to hear the matter and advise the disputants. (Elders they may or may not be, but their eldership would add no force or authority in the case except as their judgment might be the riper and their influence the more potent.) If this committee decide unanimously with either party, the other should acquiesce and the matter be wholly at an end--correction, or restitution, so far as possible, being promptly made. If either of the original disputants still persists in the wrong course, the one who made the original charge or one of those called in committee or, preferably, all of these together, may then (but not sooner) exercise their privilege of bringing the matter before the Ecclesia, the body, the Church. Thus it is evident that the Elders were in no sense to be judges of the members--hearing and judgment were left to the local body, or Church.
The two preliminary steps (above mentioned) having been taken, the facts being certified to the elders, it would be their duty to call a general meeting of the Ecclesia, or consecrated body, as a court--to hear the case in all of its particulars, and in the name and reverence of its Head to render a decision. And the matter should be so clear, and the condemned should have such generous treatment, that the decision would be a unanimous one, or nearly so. Thus the peace and oneness of the body (the Ecclesia) would be preserved. Repentance even up to the moment of the Church's condemnation is possible. Nay, to secure repentance and reform is the very object of every step of these proceedings--to reclaim the transgressor; his punishment not at all the object. Punishment is not ours but God's: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom. 12:19) Should the wrongdoer repent at any step in this proceeding, it should be a cause of thanksgiving and rejoicing to all who possess the Lord's Spirit, and no others are members of his body. Rom. 8:9
Indeed, even if the transgressor refuse to hear (obey) the decision of the entire Church, no punishment is to be inflicted or even attempted. What then? Merely the Church is to withdraw from him its fellowship and any and all signs or manifestations of brotherhood. Thenceforth the offender is to be treated "as a heathen man and a publican." Matt. 18:17
At no time in these proceedings are the faults or failings of the offender to be made public property --scandalizing him and the Church, and the Lord, the Head of the Church. Nor is he to be harshly spoken of even after the separation; just as we are not to berate, or rail against, heathen men and publicans, but are to "speak evil of no man" and to "do good unto all men." (Titus 3:2; Gal. 6:10) Love is the quality which insists on the strictest obedience to these last two requirements to "all men": how much more will love insist that a "brother," a fellow-member in the Ecclesia, the body of Christ, shall not only not be injured by false or garbled statements, but that additionally, his weaknesses or blunders or sins be carefully covered, not from the unsympathetic world only, but also from "the household of faith" and from even the Church-- until the final step of "telling it to the Church" should be found absolutely necessary. At every step the spirit of love will hope that the wrongdoer is laboring under some misapprehensions, and will be praying for wisdom and grace to turn a sinner from the error of his way and thus (possibly) to save a soul from death. James 5:20
Oh, that the holy Spirit, the spirit of love, might dwell in every member of the Ecclesia so richly that it would give pain to hear a defamatory tale about any one, and especially about a fellowmember! This would at once eliminate one-half the friction, or more. Nor would the following of the above procedure, outlined by our Lord, lead to frequent church trials: rather, while removing the ground for animosities, it would inculcate a respect for the judgment of the Church as being the judgment of the Lord, and the voice of the Church would be heard and obeyed accordingly. Furthermore, with order and love thus prevailing we may be sure that each would seek as far as possible to "mind his own business" and not attempt to reprove his brother or correct him, or bring the matter before a committee or the Church, unless the matter were one of some importance as concerned himself or the Church or the Truth.
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.
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.
R2666 [col. 1 ¶2, 3]:
In the family of God, the saints, begotten of the holy spirit, are all to be recognized as brethren, and to be dealt with accordingly. It is the new creature, and not the old creature, that is the brother in Christ; hence we may love the new creature, and in some respects have very little love for the old, just as all have disrespect for certain blemishes in their own mortal flesh, as they realize its weakness and imperfection,--and the more so in proportion as they grow in the divine likeness as new creatures. If, therefore, a brother should trespass against us it should be our first thought that this wrong done us is not by the brother, the new creature in Christ, but by his mortal flesh, which for the moment has gotten the upper hand with him or to some extent blinded him. Accordingly, instead of feeling angry with the brother, we should feel sympathetic, and our hearts should go out to him, and our desire be strong to do him good and to help him to overcome the weaknesses of his earthen vessel.
It is in line with this thought that our Lord suggests that the proper course is for the aggrieved one to go quietly, without saying a word to anyone else, and have a kindly conference with the one who is doing him wrong, seeking to point out the merits and demerits of the question at issue, and if possible to gain the brother back to fellowship, righteousness, harmony with the Lord. If this shall be unavailing, the next step shall be still a secret one--the taking of two or three brethren of supposedly good heart and large experience, and that without attempting to prejudice their minds, and to ask these to hear the cause and to give counsel as to which one is in error. Whichever of the brethren is in error should be convinced by his fellow-pilgrims, whose arguments with him should be based upon the Scriptures and the spirit of love; but if differences still exist between them, and cannot be harmonized, then, as a court of last resort, the matter should be taken before the Church--the consecrated--and after being heard by the Church, its decision should be considered final, and be accepted by all. If either of the brethren still have doubts as to his receiving justice in the matter he may console himself with the thought that he will surely obtain a blessing by giving full and hearty assent to the Lord's arrangements, even if he have so large a measure of self-conceit that he still believes his side of the question to be right, notwithstanding the judgment of all the brethren to the contrary.
F402 ¶2 through F406--"Judge Not, that Ye Be Not Judged. For with What Judgment Ye Judge, Ye Shall Be Judged" (Matt. 7:1,2)
The competent judges of the Church are the Father and the Son--the latter being the Father's representative, to whom he has committed all judgment. (John 5:22,27) The New Creatures are not competent to be judges one of another for two reasons: (1) Few of them fully comprehend and appreciate the divine Law of Love governing all. (2) Evidently few can read their own hearts unerringly; many either judge themselves too severely or too leniently, and, hence, should modestly decline to sit in judgment of the heart of another whose motives may be far from appreciated. It is because of our incompetence for judging that the Lord--while assuring us that this shall be one of our future functions in the Kingdom, after being qualified by participation in the First Resurrection --forbids all private judgment amongst his followers now; and threatens them that if they persist in judging each other they must expect no more mercy and leniency than they show to others. (Matt. 7:2; Luke 6:38) The same thought is enforced in the sample prayer given us, "Forgive us our debts [trespasses] as we forgive our debtors." Matt. 6:12
This is not an arbitrary ruling by which the Lord will deal unjustly and ungenerously with us, if we deal thus with others: on the contrary, a correct principle is involved. We are "by nature children of wrath," "vessels fitted for destruction"; and although the Lord mercifully proposes to bless us and relieve us of our sins and weaknesses and to perfect us through our Redeemer, he will do this only on condition of our acceptance of his Law of Love, an d our heart- conformity to it. He does not propose accepting unregenerates and having "children of wrath" in his family. To be fit for any place in the Father's house of many mansions [planes of being] (John 14:2) all must cease to be children of wrath and become children of Love--being changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of our Lord, the spirit of Love. Whoever, therefore, refuses to develop the spirit of Love, and contrary to it insists on uncharitably judging fellow-disciples, proves that he is not growing in knowledge and grace, not being changed from glory to glory of heartlikeness to the Lord, not a true follower of the Lord, and, hence, should not have mercy extended to him beyond what he uses properly in copying his Lord. The amount of his likeness to the Lord (in love) will be shown by his mercy, and generosity of thought, word and deed toward his fellows.
Oh, that all the Spirit-begotten ones, the "New Creation," could realize that this spirit of judging (condemning), alas! so common (indeed, almost the "besetting sin" of the Lord's people) measures their lack of the spirit of Love--their lack of the Spirit of Christ--which, totally absent, would prove us "none of his." (Rom. 8:9) We are persuaded that the more speedily this fact is realized the more speedily will progress the great transformation "from glory to glory," so essential to our ultimate acceptance as members of the New Creation.
But few of the Lord's people realize to what extent they judge others, and that with a harshness which, if applied to them by the Lord, would surely bar them from the Kingdom. We might have feared that, under our Lord's liberal promise that we shall be judged as leniently as we judge others, the tendency would be to too much benevolence, too much mercy, and that "thinketh no evil" might be carried to an extreme. But no! All the forces of our fallen nature are firmly set in the opposite direction. It is more than eighteen centuries since our Lord made this generous proposal to judge us as leniently as we will judge others, and yet, how few could claim much mercy under that promise! It will be profitable for us to examine our proneness to judge others. Let us do so, prayerfully.
The fallen or carnal mind is selfish; and proportionately as it is for self it is against others--disposed to approve or excuse self and to disapprove and condemn others. This is so thoroughly inbred as to be an unconscious habit, as when we wink or breathe. This habit is the more pronounced with advanced education. The mind recognizes higher ideals and standards and forthwith measures everyone by these, and, of course, finds something at fault in all. It delights in rehearsing the errors and weaknesses of others, while ignoring its own along the same or other lines--and sometimes, even, hypocritically denouncing the weaknesses of another for the very purpose of hiding its own or giving the impression of superior character along the line in question. Such is the mean, contemptible disposition of the old fallen nature. The new mind, begotten of the Spirit of the Lord, the holy Spirit of Love, is in conflict with this old mind of selfishness from the start, under the guidance of the Word of the Lord--under the Law of Love and the Golden Rule, and becomes more and more so as we grow in grace and knowledge. At first all New Creatures are but "babes in Christ" and appreciate the new Law only vaguely; but unless growth is attained and the Law of Love appreciated and measured up to, the great prize will not be won.
The Law of Love says: For shame that the weaknesses and shortcomings of brethren or of others should be exposed before the world; for shame that pity and sympathy did not at once advance to speak a word in their defense, if too late to spread over their faults a mantle of charity to hide them entirely! As our noble, loving Master declared on one occasion, when asked to condemn a sinner: "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone." The person without frailties of his own might be to some extent excusable for assuming unbidden of the Lord the position of executioner of Justice--taking vengeance on wrongdoers, exposing them, etc.; but we find that our Master, who knew no sin, had so much Love in his heart that he was disposed rather to condone and forgive than to punish and expose and berate. And so it will doubtless be with all begotten of his Spirit: in proportion as they grow up into his likeness they will be the last to pray for vengeance-- the last to execute punishments by tongue or otherwise, until so commanded by the Great Judge. He now, on the contrary, instructs us, "Judge nothing before the time," and declares, "Vengeance is mine."
Well has the Apostle delineated the spirit of Love, saying, "Love suffereth long and is kind" -- to the wrongdoer. "Love envieth not" the success of others, seeks not to detract from their honor nor to pull them back from it. "Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up," and, consequently, never seeks to detract from the splendor of others to make self shine by contrast. It "doth not behave itself unbecomingly," immoderately --it has no extreme and selfish desires and avoids extreme methods. Love "seeketh not that which is not her own"--does not covet the honors or wealth or fame of others, but delights to see them blessed, and would rather add to than detract from these blessings. Love "is not easily provoked," even to render just recompenses: remembering the present distress of the entire race through the fall, it is sympathetic rather than angry. Love "thinketh no evil"; it not only will not invent and imagine evil, but is so disposed to give the benefit of any doubt that "evil surmisings" are foreign to it. (Compare 1 Tim. 6:4.) Love "rejoiceth not with iniquity, but rejoices with the Truth [rightness]": hence, it would delight to uncover and make known noble words or acts, but would take no pleasure in, but avoid, exposing ignoble words or deeds. Love "covereth all things," as with a mantle of sympathy--for nothing and nobody is perfect, so as to stand full inspection. Love anticipates and has her mantle of benevolence always ready. Love "believes all things"--is not disposed to dispute claims of good intention, but rather to accept them. Love "hopes all things," disputing the thought of total depravity so long as possible. Love "endures all things"; it is impossible to fix a limit where it would refuse the truly repentant one. "Love never faileth." Other graces and gifts may serve their purposes and pass away; but Love is so elemental that, attained, it may always be ours--throughout eternity. Love is the principal thing. 1 Cor. 13:413
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!
F414 [¶2] through F417--"If Thy Brother Trespass Against Thee"
But is not this in conflict with our Lord's command, "Judge not that ye be not judged?" Must we not first judge the evildoer individually, and then talk, or gossip, about his evil deeds, or do "evil speaking" respecting him, so that the entire Church may know and repudiate the evildoer?
By no means: the divine arrangement is fully in harmony with itself when rightly understood. If A and B have a difference, and A believes himself to be defrauded by B, he must not judge B in the sense of condemning him. He may only say, "There is a difference between us, and I feel sure that I am right; though B may feel equally confident that he is right and that I have not been wronged." A may not disfellowship B on this account, for to do so would be to judge him--to condemn him. He may say, to himself, "The matter is trivial, anyway, as between brethren, and I will let it drop, believing that B, as a brother in the Lord, would not wrong me intentionally, and that it may be that my view and not his is the wrong one."
However, if he be not able to take this view he still must not judge, must not decide, that he is right and B wrong--but must go to B and explain how the matter appears to him, and if possible reach a kind, brotherly agreement, perhaps by mutual concessions. But if they cannot agree, he may ask two or three of the wisest brethren of the Church, C and D (brethren in whose sincerity B as well as himself would have great confidence), to go with him to see B on the subject--not to condemn B, for even A himself must not have judged, or condemned, him; but to hear the matter in the presence of A and B and give their advice to both. This should result satisfactorily to all--especially if all have the spirit of love one for the other and the desire to do right toward one another as members of the anointed body. But if peace is not yet established, there still is to be no judging, no condemnation; for two or three brethren cannot "judge" but only the Church.
If when A took with him C and D, they gave their opinion against A and in favor of B, that should end the matter. Under such conditions A cannot take the question to the Church. He evidently would be quite self-opinionated and "heady" to carry the matter further. The Lord's instructions give him no further privilege (Matt. 18:15); but if he were still dissatisfied, we know of no principle that would be violated if he took two or three other able and unprejudiced brethren, E, F, G, to B, for a fresh hearing of the case and for their advice.
But if, when A took C and D to B, they all sided with A's contention that B had wronged him and refused to desist, and if B after a reasonable time refused or neglected to right the wrong, A would be privileged in conjunction with C and D to call a meeting of the Church, to whom the whole matter should be rehearsed by both A and B--for it is to be supposed that if B still associates with the Church he recognizes its counsel and authority, and it is to be presumed also that B is conscientious. When the Church hears the matter, it is not to be forgotten that only the justified and sanctified constitute the Church, and that they are sitting in judgment in the name of their Lord and Head and to deliver his judgment. The matter is not to make a factional fight in the Church, but to preserve its unity in the bonds of peace. A and B, of course, should not vote, nor should anyone vote who felt any other than a desire to express the Lord's judgment in the matter. The decision should be unanimous, or practically so--even though this should require some modification of the extremes of sentiment. Let justice always be tempered with mercy, "Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Gal. 6:1
The Church's decision is to be accepted as final by all; and whoever refuses to accept and conform to its requirements in such a matter of morals (not of conscience) is to be unto the others "as an heathen man or a publican"--until such time as he shall cease to defy the Church--when, of course, he shall be forgiven and received fully into fellowship as before. The object is not to cast the brother off utterly; but merely to show disfavor toward his wrong course with a view to assisting him to its correction. To treat such an one "as an heathen man and a publican" would not mean to slander or dishonor him even after he had been cast off. The Lord's people are not to be slanderers or backbiters under any circumstances: the general command--"Speak evil of no man," covers the case exactly. We are neither to speak ill of, nor to look cross at, publicans and sinners, nor to refuse to do business with them; but we are to withhold from them the special fellowship and courtesy appropriate to the brethren of the New Creation and possessed of the holy Spirit and its love, joy and peace.
Should B refuse to hear the Church and to desist from doing wrong to A, and then later repent and be received back into full fellowship, his contumacy should be remembered against him if at any time he were nominated for the duties of an Elder. He would need to manifest a decided change before being considered fit for that service; for even if he were thoroughly conscientious, his course would, at least, prove him rather obtuse as respected right where his personal interests were involved. Indeed, to refuse to heed the counsel of three brethren and to necessitate the bringing of the wrong to the Church for adjudication would be an unfavorable indication, even if he afterward heard the Church and obeyed it and made amends to A.
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?
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‘?