Do you love the brethren?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 13, 2009
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion… (Philippians 2:1)
Do you really love the brethren? Here’s another way of asking the same question: What character qualities should you as a Christian display around other believers? Paul is basically asking this rhetorical question in a roundabout way in this verse. I mean, after all, should not Christians have the “encouragement from being united with Christ”? Should they not experience the “comfort from his love”? And, come on, if we say we “love Jesus,” then we as believers should display “fellowship with the Spirit,” and have “tenderness and compassion” because we have experienced these qualities from the Lord himself! Right? Why then do we demand these things from the faithful but have a difficult time in showing them to other believers? In fact, I have seen where Christians can show a lot of unity with the world, comfort and love, and an abundance of tenderness and compassion when it comes to dealing with the ungodly, but brother where art thou when it comes to your fellow brother or sister in the Lord?
As I have read the Scriptures it tells me that as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ you must, not a decision here but a command, show unity, love, tenderness, and compassion to your fellow disciples of the Lord first before you can even think about doing so with the world. Why? Because fellow believers can immediately tell if you are being phony in your faith or if your qualities truly come from your trust in the Lord. Your life should display the harmony you claim you have with Jesus with your brothers and sisters in the same Lord. After all did not Jesus pray that we would all be “one” in him as he was in the Father? United together in the brotherly bond of Jesus in our lives through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps you forgot that Paul wrote that little catch at the beginning of his rhetorical question by using the word “if.”
I have to give a big loud hardy har har to those who publicly proclaim they “love” brother so and so in the Lord but if the truth be known they actually think he is a “so-in-so!” You know what I mean. If you cannot love the brethren first you have no room for Jesus in your life. Least you forget Jesus declared, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” And buddy he meant fellow believers, not the world at large! How do I know this to be true, because he immediately says, “By this all men (the world) will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) His disciples loving one another, go figure?
So sweet sister Suzy or beloved brother Bill in the Lord, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,” then you had better being showing if first and foremost with your compatriots in Christ.
So, let me ask you again: “Do you really love the brethren?” If not, you cannot say you love Jesus.
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