The Christian has a unique relationship not only with his God but also with his fellow Christians. We have the distinct honor of being a part of something greater than ourselves, a part in a larger body, that of Christ (Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
The idea of being a part of a unified whole is important to remember. What are the characteristics of a body? Well, think about your own- your nose and lungs work in harmony to deliver oxygen to the blood, and your mouth, esophagus, stomach, etc. work in harmony to digest food to receive energy needed to survive. We could go on and on, but it should be obvious that for a body to function properly, it must work together and in harmony!
Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:8:
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
Unfortunately, the members of the body of Christ are often at odds with each other, and treat each other in a way not befitting those who profess Christ. Let us examine the Scriptures on how we should treat our brethren.
- We must treat our brethren with the utmost respect. As Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:1-2:
Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Furthermore, Paul’s discussion of getting along with one another in Romans 14:1-15:13 also demonstrates the respect we must show to our brethren, attempting to not offend them in any way as much as possible.
- We must remember that the body of Christ is only functioning when they are in one accord. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:18-27:
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
The body is composed of different people from all walks of life, some stronger, others weaker, but all having their purpose. The body cannot function when it is fighting itself or denigrating others within itself.
- The body cannot have “respecters of persons” within it. As James spoke in James 2:1-9:
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are
convicted by the law as transgressors.
Every part of the body is essential for its growth and stability, be the part rich or poor, strong or weak, agreeable or disagreeable.
- The Christian is commanded to love his brothers. As John says in 1 John 3:14-19a:
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him.
We are to be willing to lay down our lives for our brothers; how much greater love can be shown? Only too often do we see others and ourselves not loving one another, and by doing so we endanger our salvation.
If nothing else, consider this: the body of Christ will be spending eternity as one. If you cannot get along with your brethren on Earth, how will eternity be? How can you walk with Christ and yet not get along with those who are the ransomed in His blood? I believe that we as Christians would be amazed how much spiritual progress we could make, within ourselves, the church, and in evangelism, if we only were able to learn how to love one another, respect one another, and get along. Time is running out for loving one another; shall we be condemned for not having love for the brethren?