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Love The Brotherhood

by Bernie Parsons

Love the Brotherhood

 Am I my brother’s keeper? Genesis 4:3-12: "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.  And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.  And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth?  and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?  and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?  And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done?  the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. "

Am I my brother’s keeper? According to God, we have a responsibility toward our brothers and sisters. We may think that we hide our hatred for our brothers and sisters, but their blood cries out to the Lord. 

1 John 4:20-21" If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."

An important lesson that appears to have escaped many in the church is that we cannot both love God and despise our brethren in the church. First of all, we cannot love God if we do not understand God. God has commanded that we love one another. If we cannot love one another, then we do not understand the will and ways of God--therefore we cannot love Him.

 Love the brotherhood. 1 Peter 2:17 "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. "

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: "

The beloved Apostle Peter says that we are to love the brotherhood, an attribute and responsibility that is sadly lacking in many who profess Christianity. Peter also says that we obey the truth through the Spirit whenever we have an unfeigned love of the brothers. Has anyone ever defined “unfeigned” for you? “Unfeigned” means genuine, sincere, and not hypocritical.  If we love the heavenly Father, would we not also love the children of the Father? Peter also says that we are to love one another with a pure—the word “pure” comes from a root word that means sifted, unmixed—in other words, innocent, single-minded, with no ulterior motive--heart, fervently. Fervent comes from a root word that means to boil, and carries with it the connotation of passion, zeal, and glowing enthusiasm. When you put it together, he is saying that we are to have a passionate love for one another, but from a godly, a spiritual, heart.

When was the last time that you were so happy to see a brother or sister in Christ that you threw your arms around them and kissed them on the cheek? When was the last time you greeted a brother or sister with a holy kiss? When you see a brother or sister in the assembly, or out on the street, does joy leap in your heart, or do you think, “Oh, no! There comes brother or sister such-and-such”? Or, “I won’t have anything to do with them—they come from a (fill in the blank) congregation!” We treat them like enemies! I read an article once that said, “The church of Christ is the only army in the world that shoots its own soldiers.” What a sad commentary! Love the brotherhood! 

Love, the mark of a Christian. John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. "

Have you ever stopped to realize that that is how the world identifies—recognizes—us? All men shall know that we are followers of Jesus when they see us love each other. When is the last time that you consciously went out of your way to put love into action toward a brother or sister in Christ? The world is watching! What message are we sending?

We keep crying that the church is in decline, people are worldly, no one wants to hear the Bible, no one cares about their souls anymore—have we ever stopped to ask ourselves, “Am I contributing to this decline with my attitude and actions?"

Don’t bite and devour. Galatians 5:13-16: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Now, the crux of the lesson this morning is this: in the churches of Christ, there are many congregations that won’t affiliate, and the problem is getting worse by the day. We are splintering into more and more groups that hold their fellow Christians in contempt. The Apostle Paul says that we are not to use the freedom that we enjoy in Christ as an opportunity to satisfy the flesh. Instead, he says, we are to serve one another by the love that we exhibit.

We are to love our brothers and sisters to the degree that we love ourselves. I had a brother-in-law, now deceased, who used to pull a prank on my sister. He would hug her with his arms around her neck and his head resting against hers, with his chin propped on her shoulder. He would begin to whisper “sweet nothings” like, “You good looking thing! You’re the best looking person in the country!” The joke was that he would always do this when in front of a mirror, with her back to the mirror, but with him facing it! Now, don’t most of us look into the mirror and say, “You good looking thing, you!”? Be honest! Yes, we tend to love ourselves! God said that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves!

If we bite and devour, like a pack of starving dogs, we will destroy one another. Could it be that much of the church’s decline can be the result of this consumption? What do our children think of all this distrust and venom? What do our neighbors think? What about our unbelieving spouses? 

Galatians 5:19-26 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

I’ve seen people in the church try to provoke one another to anger, or perhaps to envy. If we are going to provoke, let us provoke as written in: 

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

How many of us spend time trying to figure out how to provoke someone to do a good deed, or to show an act of love? We ought to concentrate on cultivating kindness, tenderheartedness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and charity.

TenderheartednessEphesians 4:30-5:2 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 

The Holy Spirit of God lives within His children. Do we grieve the God’s very Spirit when we get carried away in the flesh? Are we bitter, angry, and ready to speak ill of our fellow Christians? Or are we kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving? Our society has taught us not to be tender, that tenderness is a sign of weakness. Not so--tenderness led Jesus to the cross of Calvary, where He suffered beyond imagination, and gave up His life to take away our sins. Do you think that that wasn’t a strong thing to do? Let us walk in love! 

Compassion  Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."

When something bad happens to a brother or sister, do we feel it? Does it hurt us as badly as it hurts them? Or do we shrug it off, because it happened to them and not us?  When something good happens to our brother or sister, are we happy for them--do we rejoice? Or do we get bitter and envious?

Mercy  James 2:13 "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."

Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."

Luke 6:36 "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."

Judgment is the discovery of truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t pretty.  And the truth is that our lives were ugly to the Lord, we sinful creatures called mankind. But thank God for His great mercy! We deserve to die and go into eternal damnation, but He said, “I will send them my son”. We need to cut our brothers and sisters a little slack sometimes. We need to show some mercy, because mercy rejoices against judgment. Without mercy, that is, without God giving us the benefit of the doubt, we would all be lost. Let’s tend toward mercy rather than harshness and severity.

Forgiveness Mat 6:14-15 "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

I’ve heard people in the church say about their brothers and sisters, “I’ll never forgive them for what they did!” Can you imagine God, our father, saying that? Where would that leave us, but helpless and hopeless in the face of our sins? How do you think that makes our  

Charity 2 Pet 1:4-7 "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. "

What is charity? Love that is unearned, unmerited, undeserved! Luke 6: 2: For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 

People will say, “I don’t like brother or sister so-and-so because..” and you can pretty much fill in the blank. We don’t understand charity. It is the same love that God showed to us in that He sent His son to die for us while we were yet sinners.

Lay Down Life for a Friend? No greater love? John 15:12-13 "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Would I die for you? (If a gunman came in, and said that he was going to make an example of one or two of us, and asked who would volunteer to die so that the rest of the congregation might live...)

Would you die for me?

(1) If you think I am good?

Yes—if you are ready to go, because nothing else matters.

Maybe—if you think I deserve to live.

No—you don’t think I deserve to live.

(2) If you think I am bad?

Perhaps for a righteous man? Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Look around you. Look at that brother or sister in front of you, sitting behind you, or beside you.  I ask you to look at them—right now. Would you take their place? Would you die for them? If that gunman walked in now—and these days that is not a stretch of the imagination—would you stand up and say, “Take me”? Or would you say, “I wouldn’t die for him! Or her!” How many of you would slink down in your seats, hoping the gunman would not notice you? Is it because you are so righteous that you don’t deserve to die, or is it because you know you are not ready to go? Let us love the brotherhood!

1 John 3:14-18 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

1 John 4:7-11Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.   Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 

Christ did not die for you because you deserved it. If we were to get what we deserve, we would all be condemned to a Devil’s hell. Herein is the mercy of God, which rejoices against judgment. Judgment would destroy us, because it uncovers the truth of our sins, but mercy saves us. Christ bore our stripes, by His wounds are we healed.I Peter 2:24-25: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. "

When they scourged Jesus, whipping Him to within an inch of His life, our big brother took the beating meant for us. When they hammered the biting nails into his hands and his feet--that was our cross to which He was nailed.  

Hebrews 9: 24-28:For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. "

Why don’t you embrace the love of God? Believe in Jesus, repent of your sins and turn your life over to God, confess faith in Jesus our Lord, and be born again of the water and of the Spirit. God will count you among His children, adding you to the brotherhood, where you can express your love to God.

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