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?
1Pe 1:22; Ro 12:9; R2518 col. 1 ¶5( 4) to end; R2213 col. 1 ¶2; R2242 col. 1 ¶4; R3542 col. 2 ¶4, 5; R3233 col. 2 ¶4
1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
R2518 [col. 1 ¶5(4) to end]:
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit [the spirit of the truth] unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart, fervently."-- `1 Pet. 1:22`.
This medicine is for those who have used the other prescriptions and gotten clean. It points out that the purity came not merely through hearing the truth, nor through believing the truth, but through obeying it. And not merely a formal obedience in outward ceremony and custom and polished manner, but through obedience to the spirit of the truth--its real import. All this brought you to the point where the love of the "brethren" of Christ was unfeigned, genuine. At first you treated all with courtesy, or at least without impoliteness; but many of them you did not like, much less did you love them: they were poor, or shabby, or ignorant, or peculiar. But obeying the spirit of the truth you recognized that all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to the dear Redeemer and seeking to follow his leadings are "brethren," regardless of race or color or education or poverty or homeliness. You reached the point where your heart is so free from envy and pride and selfishness, and so full of the spirit of the Master, that you can honestly say, I love all the "brethren" with a love that is sincere and not at all feigned.
Now having gotten thus far along in the good way, the Lord through the Apostle tells us what next --that we may preserve our hearts pure,--"See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently [intensely]." Ah, yes, the pure heart must not be forgotten, else it might be but a step from pure love into a snare of the Adversary, carnal love. But the pure love is not to be cold and indifferent: it is to be so warm and so strong that we would be willing to "lay down our lives for the brethren."--`1 John 3:16`.
With such a love as this burning as incense to God upon the altar of our hearts there will be no room there for any selfish, envious thoughts or words or deeds. Oh how blessed would all the gatherings of the "brethren" be, if such a spirit pervaded all of them! Can we doubt that, if it held sway in one-half or one-third or even one-fourth, it would speedily exercise a gracious influence upon all--for righteousness and fidelity and love and peace, and against envy, strife, malice, slanders and backbitings?
Let all the "brethren" more and more take these medicines which tend to sanctify and prepare us for the Master's service, here and hereafter.
R2213 [col. 1 ¶2]--"Let love be without dissimulation.":
He had already explained the necessity for love; but he now puts us on guard against a merely feigned love, which would only outwardly appear kind and polite. The true spirit of love, a holy spirit, will not be a dissimulating one, a hypocritical one: the love will be genuine, heartfelt as well as mouth expressed. This love is to be toward God, and toward all in proportion as they are God-like, or striving to be so. It is to be a love of that which is good, right, pure, true.
R2242 [col. 1 ¶4]:
While the outward affairs of life are to be regulated and harmonized with the Lord's character and will, as expressed to us in his Word, yet the object sought is to have these good qualities proceed from an inward source, a regenerated heart; a heart from which Selfishness has been dethroned, and in which Love has been enthroned as the moving impulse of life. Love to God will regulate all of our obedience to him, so that it will not be merely outward and formal ceremonies, but worship in spirit and in truth. Love to fellow-men --especially to the household of faith--will guide us in our dealings with them; for love thinks no evil, love slanders not, love backbites not, love bears no false witness, love seeks not her own interests merely, but also the welfare of others, is not proud, but humble, meek, gentle, easy to be entreated, long-suffering and patient.
R3542 [col. 2 ¶4, 5]:
It is difficult for us to gage our own hearts thoroughly and hence we should use great charity in measuring the hearts and intentions of others, and should err rather on the side of too great sympathy and leniency than on the side of too strong condemnation. Doubtless had the apostles been inquired of respecting the matter they would have denied any elements of selfishness in their motives and conduct, and would have thought and spoken only of their zeal for the Lord and desire to be near him. This illustrates to us, what the Scriptures declare, that the human heart is exceedingly deceitful-- that it needs scrutinizing carefully lest, under the cloak of something good, it might harbor qualities which without that cloak we would despise or spurn.
As further illustrating this subject, and as helping us each and all to apply the lesson personally, we relate a dream told by a Scotch minister, Horatius Bonar, shortly before his death. He dreamed that his zeal was represented in a package of considerable size and weight, and that some angels came to it and weighed it and assured him that it was full weight, an hundred pounds-- all that was possible. In his dream he was greatly pleased with this report. They next determined to analyze it. They put it into a crucible and tested it in various ways and then reported the result thus: "Fourteen parts selfishness; fifteen parts sectarianism; twenty-two parts ambition; twenty-three parts love to man; twenty-six parts love to God." Awakening he realized that it was but a dream, yet felt greatly humbled, and doubtless was profited by it throughout the remainder of life. That dream may be equally profitable to each of us in leading us to a close inspection of the motives which lie beyond our words and thoughts and doings--especially beyond our service for the Lord and for the brethren.
R3233 [col. 2 ¶4]:
As there are nominal Christians and real Christians, so there is a nominal love as well as a real love amongst those who profess the name of Christ, and it should be more and more the aim of the Lord's true people to cultivate his spirit, his character, his disposition, his love, his friendship; and that they may be able to cultivate these he has caused the Apostle to present to our attention a most graphic description o f the love which is from above. This description is given in 1 Cor. 1 3. It must be enjoyed to some extent by all who are New Creatures, for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is non e of h is; but it will be increasingly enjoyed and appreciatingly understood in proportion as the Lord's people each become stronger in the Lord --copies of God' s dear Son --like him who is the friend above all others.
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’?
1Jo 4:8; R2649 col. 1 ¶3, 4; F467 ¶3; F600 ¶2
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love .
R2649 [col. 1 ¶3, 4]:
Altho the first evidence of the possession of "the love of God" is a love for God, nevertheless the Scriptures distinctly point out to us that an additional requirement is specified, viz., love for the brethren--for those who have the spirit of God, especially, but in a general way at least a sympathetic love for all mankind. Thus the Apostle says, "If we love one another, [it is an evidence that] God dwelleth in us, and [that] his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:12.) The same Apostle emphasizes this same point, saying, "Whosoever hath this world's goods [interests, affairs], and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17.) The intimation is that such a lack of love and sympathy, and such a restraint of assistance from a brother in need, would imply that the love of God either did not at all dwell in such an one, or that it was but slightly developed--far from being perfected.
Nor does this love merely exercise itself toward the brethren in matters of temporal necessities; rather, it affects all the affairs of life, leading the one who enjoys it to "walk in love," "forbearing one another in love." (Eph. 5:2; 4:2.) And even were it necessary to speak an unpalatable truth, the spirit of the Lord, "the love of God," will dictate the speaking of the truth in love, which the Apostle assures us is essential to our growth in Christ.--Eph. 4:15.
Another thought is in respect to the mutual love, sympathy and interest which should prevail amongst all the members of this "one body" of the Lord. As the Lord's Spirit comes more and more to rule in our hearts it will cause us to rejoice in every occasion to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, but especially unto the household of faith. As our sympathies grow and go out toward the whole world of mankind, they must grow especially toward the Lord, and, consequently, especially also toward those whom he recognizes, who have his Spirit, and who are seeking to walk in his footsteps. The Apostle indicates that the measure of our love for the Lord will be indicated by our love for the brethren, the fellow-members of his body. If our love is to be such as will endure all things and bear all things in respect to others, how much more will this be true as respects these fellow-members of the same body, so closely united to us through our Head! No wonder the Apostle John declares that one of the prominent evidences of our having passed from death unto life is that we love the brethren. (1 John 3:14) Indeed, we remember that in speaking of our filling up the measure of the afflictions of Christ, the Apostle Paul adds, "for his body's sake, which is the Church." Col. 1:24
The inspired Word declares that "the [natural] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9) --not the organ called the heart, but that which the heart represents in Scripture, viz., the natural affections. The New Creature gets a new heart, a new will, a new standard of affection, in which God and his righteousness and truth and plan and will are first; and in which all other things occupy a place of honor and love in proportion to their harmony with the Lord and his righteousness. To those possessing this new heart all the members of the New Creation are necessarily first and closest: hence, as the Apostle says, love of the brethren is one of the best tests of relationship to the Lord as New Creatures. But this, as already shown, must not interfere with a just recognition of obligations to others.
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?
R3537 col. 1 ¶2 and col. 2 ¶1
R3537 [col. 1 ¶2 and col. 2 ¶1]:
The Apostle, speaking of the ministries of the Church one for another, says that ours is a sacrifice of sweet odor unto God, but again he adds that the Gospel referred to is of life unto life to some and of death unto death to others. That is to say, good deeds, kind words and efforts will be appreciated by those who are in the right attitude of heart to appreciate them, while on the contrary the same good deeds will arouse offence and constitute a bad odor to those who are in a wrong condition of heart. How often have we seen it so, that with our best endeavors to serve the feet of Christ some have been comforted and refreshed, others have been angered --to one the effort was a sweet odor, to the others it was an offensive odor, because of their wrong attitude of heart toward the Lord and toward the body of Christ--because, perhaps, of their ambitions or whatnot that were interfered with.
It was just so at Bethany: the sweet odors that filled the house, and the blessing and refreshment that came to Mary in connection with the ministration, had a very different effect upon Judas. He was angry; his selfishness hindered his appreciation of the honor done to the Lord; he could think only of himself and what he had hoped to get out of the transaction, and how, so far as he was concerned, the whole matter was a waste. The sourness that came to his heart because of its wrong attitude is indicated by the testimony that he straightway went to the chief priests to bargain with them for the betrayal of Jesus. Let us, then, dear brethren, see to it that our hearts are in a loving attitude toward the Lord and not in a selfish attitude-- that we appreciate everything done in his name and for his body, and that we be not selfseeking. Otherwise the result will be with us the savor of death unto death, as it was with Judas.
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?
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’?
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’?
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‘?