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?
R3034 col. 1 ¶1, 2; R2330 col. 1 ¶3, 4
R3034 [col. 1 ¶1, 2]:
As sons of the Highest, who are seeking to be like unto our Father in heaven, and like unto the copy which he has set before us in his dear Son, our Lord, we are to have for the world in general that broad sympathetic pity and mercy-love which would delight in doing any and everything possible to be done for their uplifting, in accord with the divine program, in the divine time and order. Like our Father and our Elder Brother, we are to love the brethren "with a pure heart, fervently"-- with sincerity. This love for the brethren is nothing like the love for the world. It is not the pity-love, nor mere generosity. It is far more; it is brotherly love. All of the children of God are brethren, as new creatures; all these brethren have hopes, ambitions, interests and promises linked together in the Lord Jesus and in the heavenly Kingdom in which they hope to share. All these brethren are joint-heirs, fellow-heirs one with the other and with the Lord. They are partners; their interests are mutual and co-ordinating.
Additionally, they have a special mutual sympathy of compassion; for while, as new creatures, they are rich in divine favor and promises, they all have serious weaknesses, according to the flesh-- draw-backs; altho the Lord is not reckoning with them according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, the intention, the heart desires, nevertheless, they each and all have besetments arising from these weaknesses and imperfections of the earthly tabernacle, which cause them to "groan," and to sympathize one with the other in their groanings. As the Apostle says, "We which have the first-fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the deliverance of our body"--the complete Church. Thus the sons of God have a further mutual sympathy and love and care for each other, an interest in each other, helpfulness toward each other, which is entirely beyond and above and outside of any feelings which could possibly be appreciated by the world or exercised toward it;--because the world has no such conflict between the old nature and the new; no such covenant of sacrifice; no such acceptance in the Beloved; no such union of heart and purpose and aim and spirit. Oh, yes! the exhortation to love as brethren, fervently, is one which appeals to us specially.
R2330 [col. 1 ¶3, 4]:
And love of the brethren does not mean merely love for a faction, or clique, or for some of the brethren who have natural qualities which we admire. It means love for all who have accepted the New Covenant and are seeking to walk by the Golden Rule of love. It means that if some have peculiarities of natural development and disposition, which are discordant to our ideas and sentiments, nevertheless, we will love and cherish them, and cheerfully serve them, because they are trusting in the Lord, and have been accepted of him, and have adopted the law of the New Covenant, the royal law of liberty and life, as their standard. We thenceforth know them not after the flesh, with its peculiarities and knots and twists: but after the new nature, as "new creatures." It means also that each of us in proportion as we discover our own natural crooks and twists, which are contrary to the law of love, will seek to get rid of these imperfections of the flesh as rapidly as possible, and to make them as little obtrusive and offensive to others as possible.
From this standpoint love will not be forever noting the defects of the various members of the body of Christ, nor holding them up to ridicule and scorn of others; but each will be, so far as possible, fully as anxious to cover the defects of others as to cover his own defects; and to sympathize with others in their conflicts with their besetments, as he sympathizes with himself, and desires that the Lord shall sympathize with him in his own conflict with his own imperfections. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ [the disposition of Christ, love] he is none of his." --Rom. 8:9.
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’?
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’?
R3541 col. 1 ¶6- 8; R3566 col. 2 ¶10- 13; F150 ¶2
R3541 [col. 1 ¶6-8]:
Let us rejoice with those who rejoice! Let us be glad to note every evidence of reform in heart or conduct! But let us remember that conversion is the beginning and not the end of the Christian life. If these converts are now of "the household of faith," let us greet them as such and congratulate them and hope for their growth in grace and knowledge to the point where they will be ready for the next step,--full consecration.
The privilege and responsibility for the instruction of these lies at our door; for alas! most other Christians through lack of development are unable to assist these into right paths of faith and hope, not having found these for themselves,--being still bewildered by the fog and smoke of the "dark ages." Let us be as wise and kind and helpful as possible along these lines; and let us pray for the wisdom from above promised in our year-text.
Meantime let us stand fast in our uncompromising but kindly opposition to Churchianity, "Babylon," and our loyalty to the One Church of many members of which Christ is the Head. While repudiating sectarian systems as of the Adversary, let us fellowship as brethren all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to his service --no matter how imperfectly they discern the truth--hoping for the fuller opening of the eyes of their understanding soon.
R3566 [col. 2 ¶10-13]:
Every true Christian, that is every believer in the atonement, secured by the precious blood, who has consecrated his all to his Savior and is striving daily even though stumblingly to walk in his steps, has a duty toward the visible Church-- toward the fellow-members of the Church of Christ.
(1) He should recognize all such and that without partiality, loving and striving to serve them as "brethren" in deed and in doctrine.
(2) Should he find these "brethren" bound in sectarian "bundles" (Matt. 13:30) he should not join a "bundle" to please them and encourage them in their error; but standing fast in his liberty in Christ he should seek the deliverance of the "brethren." His duty is to lift up the standard and get the true wheat out of all the tare-bundles into the same liberty, in union with Christ, the only Head.
(3) If he cannot have full fellowship at first, he will be all the more in the position the Savior himself occupied before he got a faithful few delivered from Jewish bondage and error. He should be just as kind and helpful to opposing brethren as their wrong ideas and position will permit; and he should foster fellowship specially with those who more and more hear the voice of the Shepherd and come out of Babylon.
We have seen some of the Lord's consecrated people in a lean and starved condition--earnestly desiring a fulness of fellowship with him, yet lacking the necessary instruction as to how it should be attained and maintained. True, they had the Bible; but their attention was called away from that and they learned to look more to teachers and catechisms, etc., running after the traditions of men and not after the Mind or Spirit of God, and have, therefore, lacked the proper spiritual nourishment. The result has been that they have felt dissatisfied with formalism, and yet knew not how to draw nigh unto the Lord with their whole heart, because they knew not of his goodness and the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus, and of the grand plan of salvation for the world by and by, nor of the call of the Church to the New Nature. This starved condition needs, first of all, the pure, "sincere milk of the Word," and afterward the "strong meat" of the divine revelation. Such dear ones are not to be despised nor neglected even though, after realizing the emptiness of churchianity in general, they have been inclined to seek for something else to satisfy their heart-hunger--something of worldly entertainments, etc. We have known some of this class who had settled down to seeming indifference to spiritual things after having vainly tried in various directions to find some soul-satisfaction; but receiving "Present Truth" they blossomed forth in the spiritual graces and knowledge in a most remarkable manner. We believe there are many more of such in the various denominations, and that it is the privilege of those who have received the light of Present Truth to lend them a helping hand out of darkness into the marvelous light; out of spiritual starvation into a superabundance of grace and truth. But to be used of the Lord in blessing such, it is necessary that both wisdom and grace from on high be sought in the Word, and that these should be exercised kindly, faithfully and persistently.
34. How should brotherly kindness consider ‘social obligations’?
35. What course will brotherly love dictate in the matter of ‘borrowing and lending’?
36. How should brotherly love regard visiting, ‘borrowing a neighbor’s time ‘?
37. What is the relation between brotherly love and communism?
38. Do those who have reached ‘the mark’ still have trials along the line of brotherly love?
39. Why is brotherly love ‘one of the final and most searching tests ‘ of the brethren and how may we prepare to meet it?
40. What should be ‘the main- spring back of brotherly kindness’?
41. What does the illustration of ‘the third- quarter mark’ signify?
42. Why is it important that we manifest brotherly love now ?
43. How may we become members of ‘the Mary class’?
44. How did Jesus show us a grand example of brotherly love and sympathy?
45. How can we fulfill Jesus’ command to ‘wash one another’s feet’?
46. How jealously should we guard and increase this grace of brotherly kindness?
47. How may we cultivate brotherly love?
R3090 col. 1 ¶5- 7; R2321 col. 2 ¶2, 3; R3435 col. 1 ¶4, 5; R2824 col. 1 ¶1; R2242 col. 1 ¶5
R3090 [col. 1 ¶5-7]:
"And to brotherly kindness, charity"--love. Kindness may be manifested where but little love exists toward the subject of such kindness; but we cannot long persevere in such acts of kindness before a sympathetic interest is awakened; and by and by that interest, continually exercised, deepens into love. And even though the subject may be unlovely in character, the love of sympathy for the fallen and degraded grows, until it becomes tender and solicitous and akin to that of a parent for an erring son.
Peter indeed describes a most amiable character, but who can consider it without feeling that to attain it will be a life-work. It cannot be accomplished in a day, nor a year, but the whole life must be devoted to it; and day by day, if we are faithful, we should realize a measure of growth in grace and of development of Christian character. It is not proper that we know the truth, and are contented to hold it in unrighteousness. We must see to it that the truth is having its legitimate and designed effect upon the character. And if the truth is thus received into good and honest hearts, we have the assurance of the Apostle that we shall never fall, and that in due time we shall be received into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Hence we see the necessity of ever keeping the instructions and precepts of the Lord fresh in our minds, and of drinking deep into its inspiring spirit, although we are already established in the faith. To be established in the faith is one thing, but to be established in Christian character and in all the graces of the spirit is quite another.
R2321 [col. 2 ¶2, 3]:
The broader and clearer our view of the situation, the more will we be able to sympathize with those of our brethren in Christ who by nature are mean, ignoble, selfish, lacking in benevolence of thought and word and conduct. When we realize that God has accepted them,--not because of their good and noble character, but because they admit its deficiencies and because they desire to become reformed, transformed, by the renewing of their minds--then all who have the Lord's mind or spirit will likewise receive them. In proportion as we have the mind of Christ, the holy mind, we will view them from the divine standpoint of sympathy for their weaknesses and ignoble qualities; and instead of condemning them and spurning them and cutting their acquaintance, because they do not come up to the noblest standards, we will desire all the more to help them up and seek kindly to point out to them the matters which they do not clearly see. We will be patient with them as we see them striving to overcome. We will realize that they contend against a mental disease that they have to some extent inherited, and which can only be gradually eradicated.
From this standpoint we will learn to view them and to think of them not according to their flesh, not according to their natural tendencies and dispositions, but according to the spirit, according to the intentions of their minds, according to their covenant with the Lord. Thus, as the Apostle declares, we know each other no longer after the flesh, but after the spirit. Each one who has accepted God's grace under the New Covenant, and become a partaker of the spirit of holiness, and is striving against sin in all its forms,--in thought and word and conduct,--all such are striving for the grand perfection of character of which our dear Redeemer is the only perfect illustration. All such confess themselves imperfect copies of God's dear Son and seek to grow in his likeness. All such are seeking to put away all the works of the flesh and the devil,--not only the grosser evils (murder, theft, etc.), but also the more common elements of an ignoble, perverted nature, anger, malice, hatred, strife, etc. And all these are seeking to put on more and more the complete armor of God, and to resist sin; and to cultivate in themselves the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus,--meekness, patience, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love.
R3435 [col. 1 ¶4, 5]:
Reversing the foregoing order, and considering the way in which the brethren are to comfort the Church, we note that it is as the channels of the holy Spirit, and as the mouthpieces of the Word of God. No one is competent to be a comforter unless he already has received comfort from God. So to speak, the Lord's people begin receiving their comfort from the time they accept the assurances of God's Word respecting his love and mercy, as exhibited in Christ Jesus, in that he died for our sins. In their appropriation of this divine favor to themselves by faith, they had their first taste of comfort--peace, joy, blessing. As they then proceeded and learned the way of the Lord more perfectly, the door of access into a still further grace was opened unto them--the grace of invitation to joint-heirship with Christ in the Kingdom, and its glorious work of comforting and uplifting mankind in general. (`Rom. 5:2`.) And as this door of favor was entered, additional comfort, additional joy, additional peace and blessing were added and understood and appreciated. And then, as the favored ones progressed under the ministries of the Truth, supplied by the holy Spirit, and became more and more able to rightly divide the Word of Truth, and to appreciate the different features of it, in the same proportion their faith grew stronger, and their comforts and joys multiplied through increasing and deepening knowledge of the Lord and of his plan.
Furthermore, as they behold in the glass of the divine Word the glory of the Lord, the reflected light of his glorious character illuminating their hearts and enabling them to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine love, it brings still increasing confidence and comfort. And every one of these steps of progress, rightly received, and every additional element of character developed prepares the favored one for the exercise of his privilege of being a comforter to others. True, it was his duty and privilege to begin to comfort others as soon as he received the first elements of comfort himself, and to continue distributing the comforts as they came to him. Indeed, we know both from experience and from the Word that unless he thus made use of the favors and blessings, and showed his appreciation of the grace of God by shining it forth upon others, his light thus being obscured would grow dim and eventually be extinguished. But the point we wish to impress is that ability to be a comforter depends upon growth in grace and knowledge, for none but those who themselves are comforted can dispense this grace to others
R2824 [col. 1 ¶1]:
Our Lord's answer shows us how intimately he stands related with all those who are truly his; those who touch his saints touch him, for are they not, as the Apostle declares, "members in particular of the body of Christ?" He is indeed, "the Head of the Church, which is his body," and the ascended Head feels for and cares for and is interested in even the weakest and humblest of those whom he recognizes as truly his. If we remember this it will be a great help to us in the midst of trials and persecutions--the thought that we are "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," that "as he was, so are we in this world," and that while we are in the flesh, Christ is in the flesh, and that this will continue until the last members, even the feet members of the body, shall have suffered and have entered into glory. Let us remember this also, and specially, if at any time we are tempted to deal harshly or speak rudely or think unkindly of any of the "brethren." Let us consider that as we, with all our weaknesses and unwilling imperfections, are the Lord's members and subjects of his interest and care, so also are all of the brethren; and that inasmuch as we do, or do not do, to one of the least of his brethren, we do, or do not do, to him. If this thought of the intimate relationship between the head and the members could be always fresh before our minds, how favorable would be the influence; how often we would improve the opportunity, not only of suffering, as the body of Christ, but of suffering with the fellow members, and assisting in bearing their burdens. "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren."--1 John 3:16; Heb. 2:11; Col. 1:24.
R2242 [col. 1 ¶5]:
Let us remember, however, that this condition of perfect love is not to be attained in a moment, but is to be the result of the experiences of the present life, in obedience to the divine counsel. However, the degree of success and rapidity in cultivating this spirit depends very largely upon our zeal, and the heed which we give to the great Counselor. Those who have given themselves wholly to the Lord and who have been accepted of him, have doubtless even from the beginning of their new life in Christ known considerable of this devotional love for God and for his people, which should increase daily. But the devotional flame which at the beginning of the Christian's experience is fearful and merely seeks the Lord for safety, may by and by reach such a development that it cries out to God, "Oh Lord, I delight to do thy will. Gladly will I toil and suffer, or bear thy reproaches, and serve thy people; if thus I may know that I am pleasing and acceptable to thee!" This is the right spirit, and this spirit should continue all the way down to the close of the battle. But such will find testings and trials by the way, to prove how deep and how sincere is their spirit of love: and where it is genuine, where the good seed of the divine truth has fallen into an honest heart, it will grow, it will thrive upon trials, disappointments; and against every opposition it will bring forth in life a fruitage of good works, of service for the Lord and for his people,-- which may be large or small according to the opportunities enjoyed by all the "overcomers."
48. What additional thoughts are found in Topical Index of ‘Heavenly Manna, ‘ under ‘Love One Another‘?