The hallmark of Christianity is fellowship, most importantly fellowship with God through Christ Jesus the Lord (I John 1:7; II John 9-11). By being in Christ one has the familial relationship with brethren (Mark 3:31-34). Those elder in the faith are to be treated as fathers and mothers with contemporaries as brothers and sisters (I Tim. 5:1ff). Paul’s instruction to the Roman church was: “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10). To the Hebrew Christians a preserving encouragement was “let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). How do we accomplish this in our Christian life?
Get rid of suspicion (James 4:11). The love God calls us to is a love that “thinks no evil” (I Cor. 13:5). How do you treat the dearest to you in this world? Always suspicious or does love produce better? Jesus called us to higher family than flesh and blood.
Christians should be slow to criticize one another. Jesus’ instruction, if followed, would naturally slow criticism. Examine self first (Luke 6:41-42). Look to yourselves (II John 8) making sure of your full reward. Examine yourself—prove yourself—is the Christian’s first responsibility (Matt. 7:3; II Cor. 13:5). Charity demands it, and bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) provides the remedy. It seems that far too often many in the Lord’s church, rather than being slow to criticize, start there without taking time to understand their brother or sister. For brotherly love to continue, Christians should be slow to criticize one another, and when criticism is needed—constructive criticism.
In the United States we enjoy what is known as the presumption of innocence—“innocent until proven guilty.” Wonder why that is not always the case in the Lord’s church? To love as Jesus we should be careful what we say, and find our brothers and sisters innocent until proven guilty. The tongue can kindle a great fire (James 3:5). Be careful! Whispering, gossiping, and slander divide the people of God and cause much heartache. Solomon said; “Where there is no talebearer the strife ceaseth” (Prov. 26:20).
We need a forgiving spirit. Aren’t you thankful God has one? “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). Peter asked how often shall I forgive my brother, and Jesus responded 490 times (Matt. 18:21-23). He further reminded “if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26). Can we sin against one another? Sure and when that happens repentance is required followed by forgiveness (Luke 17:3).
The Faith continues through brotherly love. If everyone will do their part, then brotherly love will continue, and the work of the Lord will flourish.
Northeast Church of Christ bulletin August 27, 2023