Berean Studies / Ber06 - Brotherly Kindness (Brotherly Love)
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What is the ‘new commandment’ given by Christ to his disciples?
2. What is brotherly love?
3. Who are our ‘brethren’?
4. Why is the manifestation of brotherly kindness so necessary ?
5. Is it important that we observe the spirit as well as the form of our Lord's command?
6. Why do the Lord’s ‘brethren’ need no ‘outward passwords, grips or badges’?
7. How is our love for God measured by our love for ‘the brethren’?
8. Can we fellowship all ‘the brethren’ alike?
Jude 21, 22; R3233 col. 2 ¶1- 3; R3034 col. 1 ¶3, 4; R3219 col. 2 ¶2
Jude 21,22 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference:
R3233 [col. 2 ¶1-3]:
In a word there are two planes of friendship--a natural plane, on which men of like natural qualities would be drawn together; and a spiritual plane, on which those unlike in natural qualities, but alike in spiritual hopes, aims and ambitions, are drawn still more closely together by the new tie, the new love, which binds not their flesh but their hearts in Christian love and unity.
These New Creatures in Christ Jesus know each other not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. In each other's spirits or new minds there are the noblest sentiments, the highest aspirations, that which is good, true, noble, pure-- whatever may be their weaknesses according to the flesh. They love each other from the new standpoint of intention, will, harmony with God, and their friendship for one another grows increasingly as they perceive each other's energy in fighting the good fight of faith against the evil influences of the world, the flesh and the Adversary. Nor tongue nor pen can properly express the love, the friendship, which subsists between these New Creatures in Christ Jesus, to whom old things have passed away and all things have become new.
This does not signify, however, that a parent must have exactly the same love for other children as for his own;--he has a greater responsibility for his own, and should realize it. Nor does it imply that even the saints will all be loved to the same degree. Our Lord, we are told, specially loved some of his disciples. By and by, when perfection shall have replaced imperfection, all "brethren" will be perfect and all neighbors will be brethren beloved. Until then, however, we must love all, but "making a difference"--according to natural obligations and spiritual development.--Jude 22.
R3034 [col. 1 ¶3, 4]:
But now we come to another point. Our love for the brethren cannot be exactly of the same measure and exactly of the same intensity or fervency toward all. There is something which guages or regulates it. What is it? It is that we love God and the glorious principles of righteousness, which are represented in his character; and we love our Lord Jesus from the same standpoint, as being the very exemplifications of all that is good, noble, true, just, generous, loving; and our love for the brethren must, of necessity, be in proportion as we find the brethren to be copies of our Lord. We do not mean copies in the flesh, but viewed from the Lord's standpoint; copies in spirit, copies in heart, copies in motive, copies in intention, copies in loving zeal for righteousness, truth, etc. Thus, as we grow in the love of God and in the love of Christ and in the love of the principles which they represent, we grow also in love toward all men and toward the brethren, but particularly toward those who are growing most in likeness to the Lord. This is not partiality; this is not doing to others different from what we should wish them to do to us. This is following the Lord Jesus' example; for we find that amongst his apostles, even, all of whom were chosen, there were three specially beloved; and of those three one is specially noted as "that disciple whom Jesus loved." He was specially loved, because he was specially lovable; and so with us and the brethren. We should love them all warmly, fervently, but of necessity with varying degrees of fervor, and the fervor should increase with each in proportion as we note his growth in heart-likeness to our Lord.
And if this be so, what shall we say of those who, after having come to a knowledge of the truth, and after having tasted and appreciated its goodness, fall away into sin?--of those who cease to walk after the spirit, and begin to walk after the flesh? Can our love for them burn with the same fervency as before? By no means; it should not do so. As the Apostle says in our text, we should make a difference. In doing so we are following the example of our Heavenly Father; for we have just noted that only by walking after the spirit can any of us keep ourselves in the love of God. Only by following the same course, therefore, should any be able to keep himself in the love of the brethren. Any deflection should bring corresponding loss of brotherly love and fellowship.
R3219 [col. 2 ¶2]:
Knowledge is to be highly esteemed in the Church, and to be regarded as an evidence of progress, of growth; for non e can grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might--in grace--unless he grows also in knowledge . We properly esteem most highly those whose love for the Lord and for his truth are evidenced by zeal in the study of his Word, and whose favor with God is evidenced by their being guided more and more into the deep things of God. Nevertheless, as in the earthly family we love and care for the babes and immature, so also in the household of faith the little ones and the dwarfs are to be cared for and loved and helped that they may grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
9. Should we always expect to have our manifestations of brotherly kindness received in the same spirit?
10. How are the comfort and peace of the Church dependent upon the manifestation of this grace?
11. How should brotherly love exercise itself in seeking opportunities for service?
12. How should brotherly love manifest itself ‘in honor preferring one another’?
13. How should we ‘consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works’?
14. How will brotherly love exercise itself in ‘laying down our lives for the brethren’?
15. How should we manifest brotherly kindness toward the weaker brethren?
16. How will brotherly love sympathize with the more demonstrative brethren?
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 ?
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’?
F376 ¶1, 2; F406 ¶1 to 409; R2667 col. 1 ¶1- 4 and col. 2 ¶1, 2
F376 [¶1, 2]:
This divine law affects the New Creature's relationship to God. He recognizes the meaning of the expression, "Love the Lord with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy being, with all thy strength." He finds no room for self here, except as self shall be fully in accord with God. This affects his relationship with the brethren, for how could he love God, whom he has not seen (except with the eye of faith), if he does not love the brethren who have God's Spirit and whom he has seen with the natural sight? (1 John 4:20,21) As he learns to consider carefully in his dealings with them, to do for them and toward them as he would that they should do for him and toward him, he finds that it effects a great transformation in life; that this is not at all the rule or law under which he himself and others have been accustomed to live, to think, to act, to speak.
He finds that as he would like brethren to act kindly toward him, and speak gently to him, so he should speak and act kindly and gently to them. As he would like to have them be patient with his imperfections and weaknesses, and to draw the mantle of charity over these human defects, so he should do toward them. He finds that as he would not like to have the brethren speak evil of him, even if the evil were true, so he should be kindly affectioned toward them, and "speak evil of no man," but "do good unto all men," especially to the household of faith. As he would not like to have others expect of him more than he could reasonably do, so he would not expect of others more than they could reasonably do. The same principle would operate also in respect to the world and its affairs. The whole course of life is thus gradually changed; and, as the Apostle suggests, this change comes in proportion as we "behold the glory of the Lord"-- in proportion as we come to appreciate and learn to copy the grandeur of the divine character ruled by this Golden Rule of perfect Justice, coupled with abounding Love.
F406 [¶1] through F409:
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!
We Should Judge Ourselves
"If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged [punished, corrected of the Lord]." 1 Cor. 11:31
The Golden Rule would surely settle this disposition to "gossip" about others and their affairs. What slanderer wishes to be slandered? What gossip wishes to have his matters and difficulties and weaknesses discussed either publicly or confidentially? The "world" has little else to talk about than gossip and scandal, but the New Creation should preferably be dumb until the love and plan of God have furnished them with the great theme of which the angels sang--"Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will toward men." Then the "words of their mouths and the meditations of their hearts" will be acceptable to the Lord and a blessing to those with whom they come in contact.
The Apostle, commenting upon the tongue, shows that this little member of our bodies has great influence. It may scatter kind words that will never die, but go on and on blessing the living and through them the yet unborn. Or, "full of deadly poison," it may scatter poisonous seeds of thought to embitter the lives of some, and to blight and crush the lives of others. The Apostle says--"Therewith bless [honor] we God, even the Father; and therewith curse [injure] we men,...out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" James 3:8-11
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh"; so that when we are gossiping about others, "busybodying" in their affairs, it proves that a large corner of our hearts, if not more, is empty as respects the love and grace of God. This thought should lead us at once to the throne of grace and to the Word for a filling of the Spirit such as the Lord has promised to those who hunger and thirst after it. If, still worse than idle gossiping and busybodying, we have pleasure in hearing or speaking evil of others, the heart condition is still worse: it is overflowing with bitterness--envy, malice, hatred, strife. And these qualities the Apostle declares are "works of the flesh and the devil." (Gal. 5:19-21) Would that we could astound and thoroughly awaken the "New Creation" on this subject; for if ye do these things ye will surely fall, and no entrance will be granted such into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Fitting for the Kingdom leads us in the very opposite direction, as the Apostle Peter declares, "Add to your faith patience, brotherly kindness, love; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall; but gain an abundant entrance into the Kingdom." (2 Pet. 1:5-11) The Apostle James is very plain on the subject and says: "If ye have bitter envyings and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." (James 3:14,15) Whoever has such a slanderous and bitter spirit has the very reverse of the Spirit of Christ, the holy Spirit, the spirit of Love: let him not lie either to himself or to others--let him not glory in his shame --let him not thus put darkness for light, the spirit of Satan for the Spirit of the Anointed.
Proceeding, the Apostle declares the secret of the confusion and unrest which has troubled the Lord's people at all times, to be in this unclean, only partially sanctified condition of the heart, saying, "where envying and strife is, there is confusion [disquiet, unrest] and every evil work." (James 3:16) If these weeds of the old fallen nature are permitted to grow they will not only be noxious but will gradually crowd out and kill all the sweet and beautiful flowers and graces of the Spirit.
R2667 [col. 1 ¶1-4 and col. 2 ¶1, 2]:
Our sins were covered from the Lord's sight, and we were treated as tho we owed him nothing, by his grace, exercised toward us through Christ Jesus and his atoning sacrifice; and this reckoned forgiveness will be made actual by and by, and the debt entirely canceled, if, according to the New Covenant we have made with the Lord, we shall prove faithful in cultivating his spirit of love and in becoming copies of his dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,--forgiving others as we would be forgiven by the Lord, loving, sympathizing with and helping others as we have been treated by the Lord, etc.
The parable is but an illustration of the Golden Text of our lesson, taken from the Lord's prayer: it is only so long as we are willing to forgive our debtors that we may pray with confidence to our heavenly Father and hope for his forgiveness of our trespasses. If we forgive not our fellow-creatures, and that not merely in word, but in deed and from the heart, neither will our heavenly Father forgive our trespasses, and altho he has generously covered them from his sight, and treated us as justified by faith, he would immediately remember our trespasses against us, and thus our justification would lapse or be abrogated, by a failure on our part to exercise the holy spirit toward the brethren and toward all men as we have opportunity.
From this standpoint the question of forgiveness of the brethren and forgiveness of all others is a very serious one to the Lord's people. It means that if they do not in a reasonable time develop this spirit of forgiveness, the spirit of love, the spirit of God, the holy spirit, they cannot continue to be recognized as Christ's disciples, they cannot continue to be recognized as children of God, they cannot be recognized as having their sins covered, but, on the contrary, will be treated as even more responsible than the world of mankind in general, and have executed upon them severer punishments than will be exacted from others who knew not the Master's will, and who have never tasted of his grace, and who therefore would be less culpable in the exercise of a selfish, uncharitable, ungenerous, unforgiving spirit.
We cannot suppose, however, that the Lord would expect perfection in this matter at once, from those who are still but "babes" in Christ. But his expectations are reasonable, that we should grow in grace as we grow in knowledge of him, and as expressed in the lesson of the Vine and the Branches; every branch which in due time, after due opportunity, does not bring forth the fruitage of the vine, the grapes of love (including forgiveness), will be cut off by the great Husbandman,-- no longer recognized as a branch. So in this parable, the one who had experienced such great blessing from the king, and who had been reckoned for the time an honored member of his kingdomc lass, ceased to be so regarded and so treated, and, on the contrary, was treated by the king without favor.
The Lord's people very generally find themselves in considerable trouble along the line of justice. We all recognize justice as the very foundation of all order and righteousness, and when we feel that justice is on our side it is proportionately the more difficult to freely forgive the person whom we believe to have been acting from the standpoint of injustice. There is a general tendency to require others to measure up to our standard of justice, by some sort of penance, before we forgive them. It is against this very spirit that our Lord was teaching, and to counteract which he gave this parable. We are to remember that the Lord will require us to live up to the standards we set for others. If our standard in dealing with others be one of exact justice, we may expect no mercy at the Lord's hands. (See James 2:13.) And what would this mean as respects the sins that are past through the forbearance of God, and what would it mean as respects the obligations upon us every day and every hour, to whose full requirements we are unable to measure? As we cannot come to the Lord ourselves on the score of justice, so we are not to deal with others upon that standard. As we must ask of the Lord mercy, grace, forgiveness, so we must be willing to extend to others mercy, grace, forgiveness, when they trespass against us; and as heartily, quickly and freely as we ourselves hope for.
The Lord has not laid down this rule in an arbitrary fashion, as simply saying, If you do not forgive others I will not forgive you. There is a deeper reason for it than this. He wishes to develop in us his own spirit, his own character, a likeness or copy of which was exhibited to us in the person and life of his dear Son, our Lord Jesus. It is absolutely essential, therefore, that we shall have the character he desires, or else we can never attain to the joint-heirship in the Kingdom which he is pleased to extend. Hence we are to understand that this requirement or command of forgiveness, etc., is with a view to develop us as copies of his dear Son, in order that he may bestow upon us, in due time, all the riches of his grace, contained in the exceeding great and precious promises of his Word.
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?
D474 to 481
D473 [¶3] through D481--Communism as a Remedy
Communism proposes a social system in which there will be community of goods; in which all property shall be owned in common and operated in the general interest, and all profits from all labor be devoted to the general welfare--"to each according to his needs." The tendency of Communism was illustrated in the French Commune. Its definition by Rev. Joseph Cook, is-- "Communism means the abolition of inheritance, the abolition of the family, the abolition of nationalities, the abolition of religion, the abolition of property."
Some features of Communism we could commend (see Socialism), but as a whole it is quite impracticable. Such an arrangement would probably do very well for heaven, where all are perfect, pure and good, and where love reigns; but a moment's reflection should prove to any man of judgment and experience that in the present condition of men's hearts such a scheme is thoroughly impracticable. The tendency would be to make drones of all. We would soon have a competition as to who could do the least and the worst work; and society would soon lapse into barbarism and immorality, tending to the rapid extinction of the race.
But some fancy that Communism is taught in the Bible and that consequently it must be the true remedy--God's remedy. With many this is the strongest argument in its favor. The supposition that it was instituted by our Lord and the Apostles, and that it should have continued to be the rule and practice of Christians since, is very common. We therefore present below an article on this phase of the subject from our own magazine:
"They Had All Things in Common"
"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." Acts 2:44-47
Such was the spontaneous sentiment of the early Church: selfishness gave place to love and general interest. Blessed experience! And without doubt a similar sentiment, more or less clearly defined, comes to the hearts of all who are truly converted. When first we got a realizing sense of God's love and salvation, when we gave ourselves completely to the Lord and realized his gifts to us, which pertain not only to the life that now is, but also to that which is to come--we felt an exuberance of joy, which found in every fellow-pilgrim toward the heavenly Canaan a brother or a sister in whom we trusted as related to the Lord and having his spirit; and we were disposed to deal with them all as we would with the Lord, and to share with them our all, as we would share all with our Redeemer. And in many instances it was by a rude shock that we were awakened to the fact that neither we nor others are perfect in the flesh; and that no matter how much of the Master's spirit his people now possess, they "have this treasure in earthen vessels" of human frailty and defection.
Then we learned, not only that the weaknesses of the flesh of other men had to be taken into account, but that our own weaknesses of the flesh needed constant guarding. We found that whilst all had shared Adam's fall, all had not fallen alike, or in exactly the same particulars. All have fallen from God's likeness and spirit of love, to Satan's likeness and spirit of selfishness; and as love has diversities of operations, so has selfishness. Consequently, selfishness working in one has wrought a desire for ease, sloth, indolence; in another it produced energy, labor for the pleasures of this life, self-gratification, etc.
Among those actively selfish some take selfgratification in amassing a fortune, and having it said, He is wealthy; others gratify their selfishness by seeking honor of men; others in dress, others in travel, others in debauchery and the lowest and meanest forms of selfishness.
Each one begotten to the new life in Christ, with its new spirit of love, finds a conflict begun, fightings with in and without; for the new spirit wars with whatever form of selfishness or depravity formerly had control of us. The "new mind of Christ," whose principles are justice and love, asserts itself; and reminds the will that it has assented to and convenanted to this change. The desires of the flesh (the selfish desires, whatever their bent), aided by the outside influence of friends, argue and discuss the question, urging that no radical measures must be taken--that such a course would be foolish, insane, impossible. The flesh insists that the old course cannot be changed, but will agree to slight modifications, and to do nothing so extreme as before.
The vast majority of God's people seem to agree to this partnership, which is really still the reign of selfishness. But others insist that the spirit or mind of Christ shall have the control. The battle which ensues is a hard one (Gal. 5:16, 17); but the new will should conquer, and self with its own selfishness, or depraved desires, be reckoned dead. Col. 2:20; 3:3; Rom. 6:2-8
But does this end the battle forever? No—
"Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous task will not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown."
Ah, yes, we must renew the battle daily, and help divine implore and receive, that we may finish our course with joy. We must not only conquer self, but, as the Apostle did, we must keep our bodies under. (1 Cor. 9:27) And this, our experience, that we must be constantly on the alert against the spirit of selfishness, and to support and promote in ourselves the spirit of love, is the experience of all who likewise have "put on Christ" and taken his will to be theirs. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's remark, "Henceforth know we no man [in Christ] after the flesh." We know those in Christ according to their new spirit, and not according to their fallen flesh. And if we see them fail sometimes, or always to some degree, and yet see evidences that the new mind is wrestling for the mastery, we are properly disposed to sympathize with them rather than to berate them for little failures; "remembering ourselves, lest we also be tempted [of our old selfish nature in violation of some of the requirements of the perfect law of love]."
Under "the present distress," therefore, while each has all that he can do to keep his own body under and the spirit of love in control, sound judgment, as well as experience and the Bible, tells us that we would best not complicate matters by attempting communistic schemes; but each make as straight paths as possible for his own feet, that that which is lame in our fallen flesh be not turned entirely out of the way, but that it be healed.
(1) Sound judgment says that if the saints with divine help have a constant battle to keep selfishness subject to love, a promiscuous colony or community would certainly not succeed in ruling itself by a law utterly foreign to the spirit of the majority of its members. And it would be impossible to establish a communism of saints only, because we cannot read the hearts--only "the Lord knoweth them that are his." And if such a colony of saints could be gotten together, and if it should prosper with all things in common, all sorts of evil persons would seek to get their possessions or to share them; and if successfully excluded they would say all manner of evil against them; and so, if it held together at all, the enterprise would not be a real success.
Some saints, as well as many of the world, are so fallen into selfish indolence that nothing but necessity will help them to be, "not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." And many others are so selfishly ambitious that they need the buffetings of failure and adversity to mellow them and enable them to sympathize with others, or even to bring them to deal justly with others. For both these classes "community" would merely serve to hinder the learning of the proper and needed lessons.
Such communities, if left to the rule of the majority, would sink to the level of the majority; for the progressive, active minority, finding that nothing could be gained by energy and thrift over carelessness and sloth, would also grow careless and indolent. If governed by organizers of strong will, as Life Trustees and Managers, on a paternal principle, the result would be more favorable financially; but the masses, deprived of personal responsibility, would degenerate into mere tools and slaves of the Trustees.
To sound judgment it therefore appears that the method of individualism, with its liberty and responsibility, is the best one for the development of intelligent beings; even though it may work hardships many times to all, and sometimes to many.
Sound judgment can see that if the Millennial Kingdom were established on the earth, with the divine rulers then promised, backed by unerring wisdom and full power to use it, laying "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and ruling not by consent of majorities, but by righteous judgment, as "with a rod of iron"-- then communism could succeed; probably it would be the very best condition, and if so it will be the method chosen by the King of kings. But for that we wait; and not having the power or the wisdom to use such theocratic power, the spirit of a sound mind simply bides the Lord's time, praying meanwhile, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And after Christ's Kingdom shall have brought all the willing back to God and righteousness, and shall have destroyed all the unwilling, then, with Love the rule of earth as it is of heaven, we may suppose that men will share earth's mercies in common, as do the angels the bounties of heaven.
(2) Experience proves the failure of communistic methods in the present time. There have been several such communities; and the result has always been failure. The Oneida community of New York is one whose failure has long been recognized. Another, the Harmony Society of Pennsylvania, soon disappointed the hopes of its founders, for so much discord prevailed that it divided. The branch known as Economites located near Pittsburgh, Pa. It flourished for a while, after a fashion, but is now quite withered; and possession of its property is now being disputed in the Society and in the courts of law.
Other communistic societies are starting now, which will be far less successful than these because the times are different; independence is greater, respect and reverence are less, majorities will rule, and without superhuman leaders are sure to fail. Wise worldly leaders are looking out for themselves, while wise Christians are busy in other channels--obeying the Lord's command, "Go thou and preach the Gospel."
(3) The Bible does not teach Communism, but does teach loving, considerate Individualism, except in the sense of family communism--each family acting as a unit, of which the father is the head and the wife one with him, his fellow-heir of the grace of life, his partner in every joy and benefit as well as in every adversity and sorrow.
True, God permitted a communistic arrangement in the primitive Church, referred to at the beginning of this article; but this may have been for the purpose of illustrating to us the unwisdom of the method; and lest some, thinking of the scheme now, should conclude that the apostles did not command and organize communities, because they lacked the wisdom to devise and carry out such methods; for not a word can be quoted from our Lord or the apostles advocating the communistic principles; but much can be quoted to the contrary.
True, the Apostle Peter (and probably other apostles) knew of, and cooperated in, that first communistic arrangement, even if he did not teach the system. It has been inferred, too, that the death of Ananias and Sapphira was an indication that the giving of all the goods of the believers was compulsory; but not so: their sin was that of lying, as Peter declared in reviewing the case. While they had the land there was no harm in keeping it if they got it honestly; and even after they had sold it no harm was done: the wrong was in misrepresenting that the sum of money turned in was their all, when it was not their all. They were attempting to cheat the others by getting a share of their alls without giving their own all.
As a matter of fact, the Christian Community at Jerusalem was a failure. "There arose a murmuring"--"Because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations." Although under the Apostolic inspection the Church was pure, free from "tares," and all had the treasure of the new spirit or "mind of Christ," yet evidently that treasure was only in warped and twisted earthen vessels which could not get along well together.
The apostles soon found that the management of the community would greatly interfere with their real work--the preaching of the gospel. So they abandoned those things to others. The Apostle Paul and others traveled from city to city preaching Christ and him crucified; but, so far as the record shows, they never mentioned communism and never organized a community; and yet St. Paul declares, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." This proves that Communism is no part of the gospel, nor of the counsel of God for this age.
On the contrary, the Apostle Paul exhorted and instructed the Church to do things which it would be wholly impossible to do as members of a communistic society--to each "provide for his own"; to "lay by on the first day of the week" money for the Lord's service, according as the Lord had prospered them; that servants should obey their masters, rendering the service with a double good will if the master were also a brother in Christ; and how masters should treat their servants, as those who must themselves give an account to the great Master, Christ. 1 Tim. 5:8; 6:1; 1 Cor. 16:2; Eph. 6:59
Our Lord Jesus not only did not establish a Community while he lived, but he never taught that such should be established. On the contrary, in his parables he taught that all have not the same number of pounds or talents given them, but each is a steward and should individually (not collectively, as a commune) manage his own affairs, and render his own account. (Matt. 25:14-28; Luke 19:12-24. See also James 4:13,15.) When dying, our Lord commended his mother to the care of his disciple John, and the record of John (19:27) is, "And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John, therefore, had a home, so had Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Had our Lord formed a Community he would doubtless have commended his mother to it instead of to John.
Moreover, the forming of a Commune of believers is opposed to the purpose and methods of the Gospel age. The object of this age is to witness Christ to the world, and thus to "take out a people for his name"; and to this end each believer is exhorted to be a burning and a shining light before men--the world in general--and not before and to each other merely. Hence, after permitting the first Christian Community to be established, to show that the failure to establish Communities generally was not an oversight, the Lord broke it up, and scattered the believers everywhere, to preach the gospel to every creature. We read--"And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles," and they went everywhere preaching the gospel. Acts 8:1,4; 11:19
It is still the work of God's people to shine as lights in the midst of the world, and not to shut themselves up in convents and cloisters or as communities. The promises of Paradise will not be realized by joining such communities. The desire to join such "confederacies" is but a part of the general spirit of our day, against which we are forewarned. (Isa. 8:12) "Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:36
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’?
R3536 col. 1 ¶3 to col. 2 ¶1; R2201 col. 1 ¶4- 7
R3536 [col. 1 ¶3 through col. 2 ¶1]:
Spikenard Mary represents one of the most beautiful elements of Christian character amongst the Lord's people from that day until the present. For be it remembered that the entire Church of Christ in the largest sense is the "body of Christ," as expressed by Jesus and also by the apostles. The Mary class, who would rather purchase perfume at a great cost whereby to serve the anointed Church, the body of Christ, than to spend the same upon themselves, is still with us, and has been of the Church for these eighteen centuries. Not only was the Head of the body anointed, perfumed, honored, comforted, cheered, but all of the members since have likewise received a blessing from this class, this spikenard Mary class. It is composed not always of the orators, the wealthy or the wise--its ministry is unostentatious and to many, especially of the world, it seems foolishness and waste--but the Lord appreciates it, and so do the members of his body who are comforted and refreshed thereby. Blessing be upon this Mary class!
Honor To Members--Honor To Head.
But if there have been members all the way down who have been comforted in this way, should we not expect some particular blessing of the kind in the end of this age, upon the "feet" members? According to our understanding we are now in the closing of this age --the Head has been glorified, many of the members of the body have passed beyond the veil, and only the feet are here. Perhaps this very picture of Mary's anointing the feet of our Lord as well as his head constitutes a type or picture of what we may expect in this present time. And here comes in a beautiful feature of the divine arrangement--we may all be of the Mary class as well as of the feet class. In other words, each member of the body of Christ may to some extent serve the fellow-members of the body, the fellow-members of the feet, as Mary served the feet of Jesus.
Let each one of the Lord's true people as he studies this matter conclude that by the grace of God he will join the Mary class, and purchase spikenard very costly and lavish it upon the feet of the body of Christ--the Church--the true members. This will mean love, sympathy, kindness, gentleness, patience and assistance and comfort. It will mean large and growing development in all the fruits and graces of the Spirit, whose combined name is Love.
Dear readers, let us each remember that while it is impossible for us to do as Mary did in this lesson, it is the privilege of each to do still more important things for each other, for the brethren of Christ now in the world, the feet members of his body. Hers was a literal perfume and in time lost its virtue; but the little acts of kindnesses and helpfulness which we may render one to another will never lose their merit in the estimation of our Lord, and never lose their fragrance to all eternity in the estimation of each other. The little things of life, the little words, the little tokens, the kind looks, the little assistances by the way, these and not great things are our possibilities, our perfumes, the one for the other.
"Wash One Another’s Feet."
The washing of the feet in olden times in oriental lands was very necessary to the comfort, and hence to wash one another's feet would signify to comfort and refresh one another even in the most menial services. This is the essence of our Lord's lesson to us, that we should be glad for any opportunity for serving one another, for comforting and helping one another, however menial the service. Apply this now to the expression of our lesson. Mary washed our Lord's feet with perfume, and the Mary class, the most loving and devoted class in the Church, are to help one another, to wash one another's feet; and they are to do so not in the rudest and clumsiest manner imaginable, but, inspired by love and devotion one to another, they are to wash one another's feet with the kindness and sympathy and love and appreciation symbolized by Mary's spikenard; and their comforting of one another is to be with that love and solicitation which was represented by Mary's using the very locks of her head for her Master's feet.
We see some evidence that this love, this spikenard-Mary love and sympathy, is growing amongst the members of the Lord's body; that as they perceive the animosity of the world and the flesh and the Adversary against the Lord's anointed they are all the more devoted one to another, and all the more disposed to honor one another with care and love and sympathy, and to speak and act generously and kindly one toward another. We are glad of this--we know of no better evidence of growth in grace on the part of the consecrated. Let the good work go on until we shall have filled the house with the perfume of love, until the whole world shall take knowledge of how Christians love one another-- not in a narrow or partisan sense, but in the broad sense that Christ loved all who love the Father and all who sought to walk in the Father's ways.
R2201 [col. 1 ¶4-7]:
What a comforting thought it should be to all who are of Mary's attitude of mind that it is still possible to wash and to anoint the Lord's feet. His own lips have declared that, whatever is done for the least one of his consecrated followers, is accepted by him as done unto himself. Ah! blessed thought; the Lord is still in the flesh, representatively; his faithful are to be esteemed "members of his body," as new creatures. And while these are still in the flesh, the sufferings of Christ in the flesh are still in progress, and will not be finished until the last member has been glorified.--`Col. 1:24`.
Moreover, the Scriptural figure holds good: Christ is the Head of this body which is his Church, and which for eighteen hundred years has been in process of development; and now the last members of the body are here,--"The feet of him." As members of the feet class many are weary, discouraged, needing rest, refreshment and comfort, such as was bestowed upon the literal feet of the Master.
Here comes in a test with respect to the symbolic feet of Christ, similar to that with respect to the natural feet which proved the great love of Mary and the slight of love of Simon. The members of the feet class are unpopular to-day as was the Master himself in his day, with a class corresponding to the scribes and Pharisees and doctors of the Law. Only those who love the Master much and appreciate greatly their own forgiveness will love his "feet members" in the present time to the extent that they would be willing to serve them and to fellowship them; while others like Nicodemus and Simon, altho well-meaning and considerably interested, will be ashamed of the gospel of the Nazarene in the present time, and ashamed of his feet, which published to Zion glad tidings, saying, "Thy God reigneth"--the Millennial age is dawning and the reign of Christ has already begun. (`Isa. 52:7`.) But those who are ashamed either of the gospel or of its servants are ashamed of the Master and of the Father; and such cannot be recognized as "overcomers" of the world, because instead they are overcome by the world and its spirit. Such shall not be accounted worthy to progress into the full knowledge and privileges of discipleship.
How few there are who seem to have a large measure of the spirit of Mary Magdalene! How few are really very helpful to one another. How few pour upon one another the spikenard ointment of comforting words, helpful suggestions and encouragements. Those who are thus helpful will be found filled with a genuine love for the "head," for the "body" in general and even for the "feet." And the secret of their love as in Mary's case will be found to be a large appreciation of their own imperfections and of the Lord's mercy and grace toward them, in the forgiveness of their sins. The Apostle expresses the sentiments of these helpful and loving members of the body, who are the only ones who are making their calling and election sure, saying,--"For we thus judge, that if one died for all then were all dead; and that we who live should not henceforth live unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us and rose again."
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‘?