Berean Studies / Ber06 - Brotherly Kindness (Brotherly Love)
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1. What is the ‘new commandment’ given by Christ to his disciples?
2. What is brotherly love?
3. Who are our ‘brethren’?
4. Why is the manifestation of brotherly kindness so necessary ?
5. Is it important that we observe the spirit as well as the form of our Lord's command?
6. Why do the Lord’s ‘brethren’ need no ‘outward passwords, grips or badges’?
7. How is our love for God measured by our love for ‘the brethren’?
8. Can we fellowship all ‘the brethren’ alike?
9. Should we always expect to have our manifestations of brotherly kindness received in the same spirit?
10. How are the comfort and peace of the Church dependent upon the manifestation of this grace?
11. How should brotherly love exercise itself in seeking opportunities for service?
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 ?
F296 through F297:
The Lord's rule on this subject is clearly set forth to be--"He that humbleth himself shall be exalted; and he that exalteth himself shall be abased." (Luke 14:11) The Church is to follow this rule, this mind of the Spirit, in all matters in which she shall seek to know and obey her Lord. The Lord's method is to advance only him whose zeal and faithfulness and perseverance in well-doing have shown themselves in little things. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." (Luke 16:10) "Thou hast been faithful over a few things: I will make thee ruler over many things." (Matt. 25:21,23) There is always plenty of room at the bottom of the ladder of honor. Whosoever wills, need not for long be without opportunities for serving the Lord, the Truth and the brethren in humble ways which the proud-spirited will disdain and neglect, looking for service more honorable in the sight of men. The faithful will rejoice in any service, and to them the Lord will open wider and yet wider doors of opportunity. Thus his will, exemplifying the wisdom from above, is to be carefully followed by every member of the New Creation--especially in his vote, in his stretching forth of his hand as a member of the body of Christ to express the will of the Head.
A self-seeking brother should be passed by, however capable; and a less capable, but humble, brother should be chosen for Elder. So gentle a reproof should be beneficial to all--even though not one word be uttered respecting the reasons governing. And in the case of a capable Elder giving evidence of a dictatorial spirit, or inclining to regard himself as above the Church and of a separate class, or implying a divine right to teach not coming through the Ecclesia (Church), it would be a kindness as well as a duty to such an one to drop him to some less prominent part of the service or from all special services for a time, until he shall take this gentle reproof and recover himself from the snare of the Adversary.
All are to remember that, like other faculties, ambition is necessary in the Church as well as in the world; but that in the New Creation it must not be a selfish ambition to be something great and prominent, but a loving ambition to serve the Lord and his people, even the very humblest. We all know how ambition led to Satan's fall-- from the favor and service of God to the position of an enemy of his Creator and an opponent of all his righteous regulations. Similarly, all who adopt his course, saying, "I will ascend above the stars of God [I will set myself above others of the sons of God], I will be as the Most High--[a ruler amongst them, a usurper of divine authority without divine appointment, and contrary to the divine regulation]," are sure to suffer divine disapprobation, and proportionate alienation from the Lord. And the influence of such, like Satan's, is sure to be injurious. As Satan would be an unsafe teacher, so are all who have his disposition sure to lead into darkness for light; because they are not in the proper attitude to receive the light and be used as messengers of it to others.
Whenever, therefore, any brother feels sure that he is called to preach in some public capacity when no door of service has been opened to him in the appointed manner--if he is inclined to force himself upon the Church, without its almost unanimous request--or if having been chosen to the position of a leader or Elder he seeks to hold the position and consider it his by right, without regular votes of the Church from time to time requesting his service continued, we may set it down either that the brother has not noted the proprieties of the case, or that he has the wrong, self-seeking spirit unsuitable to any service in the Ecclesia. In either event it will be the proper course to make a change at the first proper occasion for holding an election: and, as already suggested, the first Sunday of a year or in a quarter would be an appropriate time easily remembered.
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’?
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?
See Topical Index of Watch Tower Bible , under ‘ Brethren .’
29. What should be our attitude toward ‘siftings’ among the brethren?
30. What should be the attitude of all ‘true sacrificers’ toward each other and toward those who have left ‘the Holy’?
31. How does brotherly kindness apply ‘the Golden Rule’?
32. How should brotherly love exercise itself toward the special servants of the Church?
33. How should we exercise brotherly love toward our brethren still ‘in Babylon’?
34. How should brotherly kindness consider ‘social obligations’?
35. What course will brotherly love dictate in the matter of ‘borrowing and lending’?
Ro 13:8; F564 ¶1, 2; F569 ¶1, 2; Lu 6:35; F567 ¶2; F568 ¶1, 2
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
F564 [¶1, 2]:
"Owe no man anything but to love one another," is the divine rule, as expressed by the Apostle. (Rom. 13:8) It would be well if all the world knew of this rule and followed it closely, and we know that in due time just this rule will be rigidly enforced--during the Millennial age. But the New Creation has this as its rule now, and however others may fail to recognize it and to follow it, the Lord's people should obey this instruction implicitly. Even to natural Israel, the house of servants, the Lord laid down the injunction that if faithful to him they should be lenders, not borrowers (Deut. 15:6), and this principle commends itself to every person possessed of good judgment as being the very essence of wisdom-- wisdom which it would be well, were it possible, to apply to the world--wisdom which the world recognizes, but which comparatively few either of the Lord's people or of the world strenuously endeavor to follow as an invariable rule of life.
In other words, every member of the New Creation should, as respects earthly things, live within his means. If he can earn but a dollar a day he should not for a moment think of spending more than that, except upon the direst necessity, but should adapt his conditions accordingly, until there be a change to more favorable circumstances. Recognizing that the Lord's providential care is over him and all his affairs, he should, after arranging as wisely as he knows how respecting his temporal matters, conclude that these as well as his spiritual affairs have been subject to divine supervision, and that the Lord designed a blessing for him in connection with these conditions. He should, therefore, be thoroughly content with them, however trying they may be--waiting patiently on the Lord for such relief as divine love and wisdom may bring in due time. If the income be a liberal one, moderation should be his rule of conduct in this as in all things. "Let your moderation be known unto all men." Economy is a part of the divine arrangement, as exemplified by our Lord and the apostles, and particularly illustrated in the matter of the saving of the fragments by order of him who had power to create out of nothing food for a multitude.
F569 [¶1, 2]:
There is a kind of petty borrowing and lending practiced by many, especially in respect to household articles, soap, sugar, tubs, tools, etc., that deserves consideration here. The New Creatures, under the control of the spirit of a sound mind, must deprecate in their hearts such petty annoyances; so much so that they will be sure so to regulate their own affairs and wants as to make such borrowing an extremely rare matter --a matter of absolute necessity in case of sickness or other extremity. It should be a part of the determination of all the Lord's saints to put other people to as little trouble as possible. If, therefore, through neglect of proper attention to their affairs, they are short of butter for a meal, they should prefer to do without it rather than to annoy a neighbor and to set a bad example. If they have only one smoothing iron, and cannot afford to purchase another, they would best abide by the consequences, and use the one only.
Those who cultivate such strict regulations in respect to their own affairs will naturally feel more annoyed than would others if a neighbor comes to them to borrow. Nevertheless, the Lord's people are to be lenders, not borrowers; and our advice would be that in all reasonable moderation the Lord's people should gain a notoriety of peculiarity in both these respects--that they would be always willing to lend, and that heartily, with cheerfulness and goodwill, and a desire to please and accommodate, to the extent that they could afford to lose--and always unwilling to borrow. Such persons would admittedly be considered "good neighbors," whether they were thought "peculiar people" as respects their devotion to the Lord and his Word or not. True, the borrowers might not always return the article, and it might cost trouble to go after it; or, in the case of borrowing food, they might never return it. We should reflect, however, that if they thus borrowed and consumed and failed to return food, they would be less likely to come again for more. If circumstances would permit, we would prefer never to ask the return of a borrowed article. We would rather consider these favorable opportunities for making friends with the "mammon of unrighteousness"--good opportunities for sacrificing trivial earthly interests that we might, through these, obtain a greater moral and spiritual influence with our neighbors.
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
F567 [¶2] through F568 [¶2]:
The Lord's counsel to his people on the other side of the question is equally explicit. If they see their brethren have need they are to do good and to "lend, hoping for nothing again"--without thought of gaining similar or other favors in return. We must, however, understand this injunction to "lend" to a brother in harmony with the other injunction that we should not borrow; and, hence, the implication would be that the brother possessed means and would be able to repay, but that temporarily he had need, and was able to give some kind of a mortgage or security to the one lending. But such lending, to assist a brother in necessity, should be done freely and without hope of reward--without stipulating for interest (usury), but merely for the return of the principal within the specified time. It should be purely an accommodation, an expression of brotherly love.
If the brother be not circumstanced so that he could repay or give security for the money, the loan should not be made, but, instead, a gift--to whatever extent the giver felt himself able to exercise charity and in proportion to the necessities of the brother. The brother might engage to pay back, but it should be insisted upon that it is a gift, unless subsequently the brother's affairs should decidedly change, and he should be abundantly able to return the gift, in which case he certainly should have the desire of heart so to do. Even then, if the giver were well able to afford it, he might say to the brother, "I cannot feel happy to take back the gift; therefore, I entreat you, pass it on to someone else, whom you may find in need, now or at some future time." The matter would be entirely different, however, if the brother or any other person wished to borrow money with a view to extending his business, and with the intention of making profit. To loan the money to such an one, taking ample security, and requiring interest would be thoroughly legitimate; and such interest would not be "usury," in the oppressive or wrong sense, but would be in harmony with what the Lord enjoined in his parable when he said, "Thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury [interest]." Matt. 25:27
In full accord with these injunctions, the Scriptures give us another, which might well be heeded, and always to profit, not only by the New Creation, but also by the world in general. The injunction reads, "A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend." (Prov. 17:18) According to this suggestion, sureties and securities for others, indorsements of notes, etc., would be barred, and wise it would be for all of the Lord's people to follow this rule carefully. Even in the most urgent case imaginable, in which there might be almost absolute necessity for going upon the bond of a brother, care should be exercised that no obligation is taken that could not be met without serious disaster. If the bond were for a sum that one would be willing to lend to the brother, or to give to him in case of necessity, then the bond or security or indorsement would be allowable, but not otherwise--never to the jeopardy of one's own credit, nor to the risk of one's own business, nor to the impoverishment of one's own family. Compare Prov. 22:26; 11:15; 6:1-5.
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?
F188 ¶1; F370 ¶3; R2754 col. 2 ¶3, 4
The third-quarter mark on this racecourse we will call-- love for the brethren. From the first we recognize a duty-love toward the brethren even as toward the Father, only in a less degree, because the brethren had done less for us; and we recognized them chiefly because such was the Father's will. But as we got to see the principles of righteousness, and to appreciate the Father, and to see that the Father himself loveth us, notwithstanding our unintentional blemishes, our hearts began to broaden and deepen toward the brethren; and more and more we became able to overlook their unwilling imperfections and blemishes and mistakes, when we could see in them evidences of heart-desire to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and in accord with the principles of the divine character. Love for the brethren became distinctly marked in our experiences. Alas! evidently a good many of the Lord's dear people have not yet reached this third-quarter mark on the race course toward the prize of our high calling. There is much need of developing the brotherly kindness, the long-suffering, the patience, which the Scriptures inculcate--and which are necessarily tried and tested more in our connection with the brethren than in our connection with the Father and our Lord. We can see the perfection of the Father and the Son, and that they have no imperfections; we can realize their magnanimity toward us and our own shortcomings toward them: but when we look toward the brethren we see in one this weakness, and in another that weakness; and the temptation is, alas, too common to say to a brother: "Let me pick out the mote from thine eye"--instead of realizing that such a picking and nagging and fault-finding disposition toward the brethren is an evidence that we still have a large beam of impatience and lovelessness of our own to contend with. As we near this third-quarter mark, we gradually get the beam out of our own eyes--we get to see our own blemishes, and to appreciate more and more the riches of our Lord's grace toward us; and the influence of this upon our hearts is to produce in us a greater degree of the spirit of meekness, patience, and gentleness toward all--and this again enables us to overlook or cover a multitude of sins, a multitude of imperfections in the brethren, so long as we realize that they are surely brethren--so long as they are trusting in the precious blood, and seeking to run this same racecourse for this same prize.
Our Love is growing, and we press along for the third quarter-mark. By the time we reach it, our duty-love, plus love for the principles of righteousness, has extended, not only to the divine character, and included dislike for every wicked thing doing injury to mankind, and contravening the divine character and plan, but at this mark we have attained a position of broader sympathy for others--we begin to share God's sentiment, not only of opposition to sin, but also of love for, and sympathy with, all who are seeking the way of righteousness and holiness. By this time we are able to recognize the brethren in a somewhat different light than ever before. We can now see them as New Creatures, and differentiate between them and their mortal bodies, whose imperfections are obvious to us. We learn to love the brethren as New Creatures, and to sympathize with them in the various weaknesses, misjudgments, etc., of their flesh. So keen becomes our Love for them that we have pleasure in laying down our lives on their behalf--daily, hourly, sacrificing our own earthly interests or pleasures, or conveniences, giving of our time, our influence, or what-not, to assist or serve them.
R2754 [col. 2 ¶3, 4]:
Love of God from this latter standpoint as the representative of every grace and every virtue, as the representative of righteousness, and the opponent of every injustice and inequity, led us to seek and to follow out these principles amongst our fellow-men, as well as in our own characters. As we began to love truth, purity, nobility of character, wherever it could be found, we found some of it in a mottled and streaked condition even in the world of mankind: we found that the original law of God, written in the heart of father Adam, altho largely erased and obliterated from the hearts and consciences of his children, is not wholly gone;--that to some extent, especially under the influence of Christianity in the past eighteen centuries, some features of this perfect law may be dimly discerned amongst men.
But our scrutiny, backed by our increasing love of these principles of righteousness, found nothing satisfactory amongst natural men--nor even amongst those professing godliness--professing to be followers in the footsteps of Jesus. We found these all, like ourselves, far short of perfection, far short of the glory of God. But as the true love, of right principles, burned in our hearts more and more fervently, we learned to sympathize with the entire "groaning creation," and to "love the brethren;" for in the latter we perceived a class inspired by the same spirit by which we ourselves had been begotten of God, the spirit of the truth; we saw some of them struggling as we had struggled, with appreciation only of the duty-love; we saw others who had gained a higher conception than this, who had learned to appreciate the principles of righteousness and to love them, and to hate iniquity, and further, to love the God who is the embodiment of these. And the realization that these "brethren," like ourselves, were gradually approximating the divine standard--"pressing toward the mark"--filled us with interest in them and in their battle against sin and its weaknesses, and against the Adversary and his beguilements. We became more and more interested in their welfare and overcoming in proportion as we were striving and making progress in the same "narrow way." This love of the brethren we did not have at the beginning; it marks a distinct progress in our race toward the "mark;" we might term it the third quarter-mile mark. But altho a grand attainment was achieved when this love of the brethren reached the point of willingness to "lay down our lives for the brethren" (`1 John 3:16`), yet it was not the full attainment of the "mark" for which we are running.
42. Why is it important that we manifest brotherly love now ?
43. How may we become members of ‘the Mary class’?
44. How did Jesus show us a grand example of brotherly love and sympathy?
45. How can we fulfill Jesus’ command to ‘wash one another’s feet’?
R3543 203543 Subhead: THE MEANING OF THE LORD’S ACTION ; R2201 col. 2 ¶3 to end
R3543 [col. 2 ¶4 to end]--The Meaning of the Lord's Action
Here we have the entire lesson explained. In their fear to be the least, all the disciples had shunned the opportunity of service for the Master and for each other. Our Lord, their acknowledged Head and Master, the Messiah, had humbled himself to serve them all, and had thus rebuked their in humility, and at the same time set them an example that would apply to every affair of life, namely, that they should be glad to serve one another on every proper occasion, in the high things or in the common affairs of life. This washing of one another's feet we may readily see applies to any and every humble service of life, any and every kindness, though specially to those services and kindnesses which would be along the lines of spiritual assistances and comfort.
From this standpoint it will be seen that we do not understand that our Master here enjoined a form or ceremony as our Dunkard friends and others believe. We do not even see in the matter the groundwork for the custom of the pope of Rome, who once every year, at this season washes the feet of twelve poor men, perhaps beggars, who are first prepared by a general washing and then brought in while the pope performs the special public service in the washing of their feet. We see no such formality in our Lord's intention. Indeed so far from it being a comfort or necessity to literally wash feet in our day and under our conditions, the reverse would be true. On the contrary, the Apostle points out, to wash the saints' feet in olden times was a mark of special hospitality, and entitled the performer to a loving respect in the Church.--1 Tim. 5:10.
How many blessed opportunities we have for comforting, refreshing, consoling one another and assisting one another in some of the humblest affairs of life, or in respect to some of the unpleasant duties, experiences or trials of life. As our Golden Text expresses it, we are in love to serve one another and not through formality. Any service done or attempted to be done in love, with the desire to do good to one of the Lord's people, we may be sure has the divine approval and blessing. Let us lose no opportunities of this kind; let us remember the Master's example; let us, like our Master, not merely assume humility or pretend it, but actually have that humility which will permit us to do kindness and services to all with whom we come in contact, and proportionately enjoy this privilege as we find the needy ones to be members of the Lord's body--the Church.
As our Lord said to the disciples, "He that is bathed need not save to wash his feet," even so we may realize that all who are justified and consecrated members of his body have already had the bath, the washing of regeneration, and are already clean through the word spoken unto them. (John 15:3.) Nevertheless, although thus cleansed and sanctified, so long as we are in contact with the world we are liable to a certain degree of earthly defilement, and it especially behooves each one not only to look out for himself but to help one another to get rid of earthly defilements, thus serving his brethren, helping them in the weaknesses, trials and imperfections of the flesh, assisting them to become overcomers. In these respects he is cooperating in the great work of washing the saints' feet, cleansing from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the reverence of the Lord.--2 Cor. 7:1.
R2201 [col. 2 ¶3 to end]:
Our Lord's words to Peter, "If I wash thee not thou hast no part with me," certainly imply that the washing was more than a mere ceremony-- more also than a mere expression of humility, as we shall endeavor to show. Nevertheless, the principle should hold good in every time and in every clime: that whatever useful service can be rendered to a fellow-member of the body of Christ, however humble or menial, it should be performed, as unto the Lord.
Having finished the service the Master explained its significance. He had set them an example (1) of humility, in being willing to perform the most menial service to those who were truly his; (2) the washing was an illustration of a great truth, namely, that altho already cleansed by the Lord--justified freely from all things, through faith in him--yet that there were certain defilements which would attach to each of them so long as they would be in the world, from contact with its evils and besetments. While the general washing (justification) would stand good for all time, yet they would need continually (figuratively) to wash one another's feet--with the "washing of water by the word." (Eph. 5:26.) This would signify that they should have a mutual watch-care over one another's welfare; to keep each other clean, holy, pure, and to assist one another in overcoming the trials and temptations and besetments of this present evil world;--arising from the three sources of temptation, "the world, the flesh and the devil."
This cleansing work which is to be done for one another is in harmony with the injunction, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." They could not get each other into the love of God: that could be attained only in the one way; through the original cleansing of the precious blood, through faith; and no one can thus cleanse us or help us into divine favor, except the Redeemer himself. But he having cleansed us and brought us into divine favor, has commissioned us that we should help one another to "abide in his love" and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The merit, the way and the privilege are all of God through Christ. The agencies used in applying these to one another are ourselves. "Ye ought also to wash one another's feet;" to help keep each other separate from the world, and clean through the Word he has spoken unto us,--by "the washing of water by the Word;" "building one another up in the most holy faith."
This again reminds us of the Scriptural statement, in reference to the Church perfected and glorified, --"His wife hath made herself ready." (Rev. 19:7.) While the entire arrangement for her wedding robes, the washing of regeneration (justification) and the water for her feet-washing, are all provided for the bride through the agency of the Bridegroom, and she is thus made ready, yet the use of these means, the putting on of her adornment, the embroidering of her robes and the arrangement of the jewels presented to her through the spirit, is left for herself to do; each member of the body co-operating unto the edification of the whole body in love.--1 Thes. 5:11; Rom. 14:19.
It would doubtless be pleasing in the sight of the Master, our Head, that we should have a disposition to help and to reform the world in general, and to wash the vilest of the vile from all their sin; but however praiseworthy such a disposition might be, we are to remember that this is not the command which he has placed before us in our text. His injunction here is not to do general washing of all the unclean, but to do special washing for those whom he already has cleansed, justified, through faith. It is in respect to the fellow-members of his body that he has given this charge; and we emphasize it here, because this fact seems to be very generally overlooked by Christian people, who give their time rather to the outward cleansing, the moral and social uplifting, of those whose hearts have never been washed by the Master, and correspondingly neglect one another, his "feet." Yet, as already seen, preceding, tho it is a great honor to render such a service to one another, the privilege will be properly appreciated and much used only by the truly humble who have much love for the Master.
But, it requires peculiar qualifications to enable us to help each other in this respect; before we can help others to remove the motes out of their eyes, and to cleanse their way of life, in all its little particulars, so that every thought as well as every word and act shall be brought into subjection to the divine will, it is necessary that we have experiences along the same lines ourselves. We must endeavor to get rid of the motes and beams that would obstruct our own vision. We must cultivate purity in our own lives,--in our deeds, words and thoughts. Only as we cultivate the various graces of the spirit,--meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly-kindness, love, can we hope to be specially helpful to others in putting on these adornments of character and purities of life, and to get rid of defilements of the world, and the flesh.
To this end it will be found helpful to remember the lesson of Mary in her service to the Lord's literal feet. Many who would reject well-meaning criticisms of conduct, resent well-meant efforts to wash their feet, as interferences with their private business, would be very amenable to the influences of the same person if he approached them with such evidences of true devotion and loving interest as would be symbolized by tears. It is the sympathetic ones who are most successful in helping the various members of the body of Christ out of the difficulties, besetments and defilements incident to the following of the Lord in this present time. Oh, let us study and strive and pray that we may be very successful in obeying the Master's words, "Ye also ought to wash one another's feet."
It will also be a great help and comfort to the fellow members of the body, if in connection with these efforts to help one another in the cleansing of our ways, by taking heed unto the Word of the Lord, we will have with us also some of the precious ointment of sympathetic and, as far as possible, commendatory and encouraging words, and helpful assistance: for all the members of the feet class who are seeking to walk worthy of the Lord need the ointment of sympathy and encouragement, as offsets to the trials, difficulties and persecutions incident to the "narrow way," coming to them from the great Adversary and his blinded servants.
46. How jealously should we guard and increase this grace of brotherly kindness?
47. How may we cultivate brotherly love?
48. What additional thoughts are found in Topical Index of ‘Heavenly Manna, ‘ under ‘Love One Another‘?