Berean Studies / Ber06 - Brotherly Kindness (Brotherly Love)
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What is the ‘new commandment’ given by Christ to his disciples?
2. What is brotherly love?
3. Who are our ‘brethren’?
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?
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?
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?
28. By what rules are ‘false brethren’ to be judged?
29. What should be our attitude toward ‘siftings’ among the brethren?
1Co 11:19; R2386 col. 1 ¶2 to end
1 Cor. 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
R2386 [col. 1 ¶2 to end]:
But gradually the leads his readers onward and points out to them their low spiritual condition (1 Cor. 3:3), as evidenced by the facts which he cites, saying, "There is amongst you envying and strife and divisions" (a party spirit, dividing themselves under human leadership rather than uniting themselves under Christ, the true and only head). Let it be noted that the Apostle does not accuse the Church at Corinth of what would be termed gross worldly sins, murder, theft, blasphemy, etc., but of the more refined evidences of a wrong condition of heart--a lack of the spirit of love: And yet, as our Lord pointed out, anger, hatred and malice are murder in the heart. Proceeding further, however, he shows that not all of them, but only a part, are in this seriously wrong condition of heart. He adds, therefore (11:18), "I hear that there be divisions amongst you, and I believe it respecting part of you; for there must be also parties amongst you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."
Likewise the siftings in progress during this harvest time are not only to separate those whom the Lord disapproves, but are also to make manifest those whom the Lord does approve: and in no way can this matter be more clearly and distinctly noted than in respect to the difference of spirit manifested where there is a division, a sifting, in progress. We do not refer particularly to the difficulty which you mention, of which we have no other knowledge as yet: we are dealing merely with general principles, which seem applicable in every such case. Those who have not yet had a sifting have had special opportunities to grow strong in the knowledge of the truth and in the spirit of it, and when their sifting does come, it probably will be severe in proportion to the blessings previously enjoyed.
We urge, therefore, upon all of the Lord's people, everywhere, that they set their own hearts in order, purging out all the leaven of malice, envy, strife, hatred, evil speaking (incipient murder), and fill every corner and interstice of their nature, so far as possible, with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of the truth, Love: and that when siftings or separations shall come, they take heed and be not deceived by the Adversary, who always will attempt to put darkness for light, and will not hesitate at misrepresentations, back-biting, evil speaking, slander, etc. And as the Adversary does not hesitate at these, neither do those who become, either knowingly or unknowingly, his agents and tools. Such seem to lose not only their self-respect and sense of propriety and justice and love of truth (which even the world and nominal Christians would have), but in their bitterness of spirit seem to give full testimony respecting which spirit it is that animates them. In these trials and siftings we may be sure that only the one class will come off victors, viz., those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty, trusting in the precious blood, and seeking in all things to be conformed to the image of the Lord, not only in their doctrines, but also in the acts of daily life, and in their words and thoughts. Remember the words of the Apostle Peter, respecting the necessity for putting on the graces of the spirit:--"If ye do these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
The duty of the faithful in every case is the same: to hold up the light--to manifest the spirit of the truth and to refuse to tolerate the evil--to reprove it by the Word of the Lord and in a spirit of love and gentle firmness. The sooner all who love evil--anger, malice, hatred, etc.--depart from those who delight to speak the truth in love, the better. As the Apostle suggests of this class-- "They went out from us, because they were not all of us." Let not those who love the truth and have its spirit of love depart; but let them forget not the assembling of themselves together, and so much the more as they see the Day drawing on.
But nothing in the foregoing should be understood to advise the forcing of a breach, or carelessness as to who may "stumble." Quite the contrary, true love of the brethren means patience, long suffering, gentleness, kindness,--willingness to yield to them and accommodate them in anything nonessential--in anything not opposed to the letter or spirit of the truth. For love and faithfulness to God alone takes precedence to love and faithfulness to the brethren. Each, therefore should not only sacrifice his own non-essential preferences (to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace), but more: the Apostle declares the proper measure of this love is willingness to "lay down our lives for the brethren."
Only after we have thus done all in our power to preserve unity along Scriptural lines and a rupture is unavoidable, may we regard it as a providential sifting from which good will result. And each should previously carefully and prayerfully scrutinize his own heart and conduct to make sure that not selfishness and vainglory are ruling him, but only love. And when a rupture does occur, each should be careful to avoid any unkind words or acts and looks, which later on might be barriers to hinder the return of any who, seeing the error of their way, might subsequently desire to return to holy fellowship. And such returning ones should be most heartily and joyfully received;--"pulling them out of the fire," etc.
These "siftings" seem to emphasize the Master's words,--"Take heed that no man take thy crown." Our joy at seeing some come into the light of present truth is necessarily modified by the thought that they are probably taking the places in trial of some who have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. "Let us fear," as the Apostle suggests, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it by losing either the faith or the spirit of the truth: for the loss of either one means soon or later the loss also of the other.
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?
1Th 4:9, 10; R2196 col. 1 ¶5, 6
1 Thes. 4:9-10 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
R2196 [col. 1 ¶5, 6]:
Although the Church at Thessalonica was composed of those who in respect to length of Christian experience were but "babes in Christ," yet very evidently the persecution which had come upon them had caused them to grow very rapidly. It was but a year since they had received the gospel, and yet the Apostle witnesses to their rapid development, as evidenced by their love one for the other; and not only love for the company at Thessalonica, but the breadth of their love extending to and manifesting an interest in all of the household of faith throughout the Province of Macedonia. The Apostle declares that this love of the brethren was a manifestation of the fact that they had been "taught of God." This reminds us of the statement of another apostle, "He that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen."
One of the first effects of a knowledge of the grace of God in Christ, and of a full, thorough consecration to the Lord, is this love for all fellow-servants--"brethren." Would that the fervency and zeal of first love, both toward the Lord and toward the entire household of faith, might not only continue, but increase with all. But alas! many who start warmly and earnestly grow lukewarm-- become captious, cynical, hypercritical, highminded and self-assertive--and lose much of the simplicity, zeal and humility of their first faith and first love. This is the first attack of the great adversary through the weaknesses of the flesh, to re-ensnare those who have escaped his chains of darkness, and gotten to see some of the glory of God shining through Christ. If they do not resist these temptations, the effect is sure to be not only lukewarmness toward the Lord and his cause and the members of his body, but eventually the cultivation of the fruits of darkness, envy, malice, hatred, strife, instead of the fruits of the spirit of Christ, meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly love and kindness. Hence, the Apostle urges the Church, "We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more," in love and service one for the other, which imply a growth in all the graces of the Spirit.
47. How may we cultivate brotherly love?
48. What additional thoughts are found in Topical Index of ‘Heavenly Manna, ‘ under ‘Love One Another‘?