Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ought Against Thy Brother

One of the biggest dissuaders of the Holy Spirit in the Church today is holding an unforgiving spirit against each other. This creates many things:


1. It creates sensitivity to that person and what they say or do. (Psalm 119:165)

2. It creates a dislike for the person. (John 13:35)

3. It creates negative emotions at the thought of that person. (Jeremiah 29:11)

4. It creates distrust in that person. (John 15:16)

5. It creates evil surmising toward that person or thinking that person is out to “get you.” (I Corinthians 13:5)


These few examples help to illustrate just some of the problems associated with having an unforgiving spirit. Ellen White defines this unforgiving spirit quite well later in this study in Testimonies for the Church Volume 2 page 53. Having an unforgiving spirit is not just turning your nose up to someone who has wronged you. Holding a grudge in your heart, or even not confronting the individual when the wrong occurred (or soon after) are considered a sin by God because we stew about it. Look above at that list of five things (which are just the tip of the iceberg) and see that the devil has a lot to work with when it comes to this sin. God is good, and He gives us a remedy for this awful sin of having “ought against your brother.”


Matthew

5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.


Before we open our hearts to God in worship, if we ought against our brother, it will prove to ruin the worship. God sees quarrels as worthy of taking immediate action against lest we spoil our own souls and the souls of others.


Philippians

2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind.

2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.


I think if this advice would be followed, we wouldn't have fights in the church or it would GREATLY decrease them.


Matthew

18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

18:16 But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.

18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.


Here in Matthew 18, we find Christ's method for church discipline. Notice that He tells us to first go to our brother in a one-on-one conversation. This is for many reasons. First, in going to our brother first, we save him embarrassment and shame. If we talk to others about them first, this is spreading unneeded due attention to our brother's faults (or perceived faults). This is known as gossip. Second, we treat our brother with respect due a child of God. We ought not daunt the failures of others. Third, we quench the simmering ill-feelings that our brother might have. This can lead to all sorts of trouble. Finally, we are performing an evangelistic act. That is, we are trying to win our brother's heart over again and show them what Christ has done for us.


Ellen White on our demeanor as we follow Matthew 18

“Give the erring one no occasion for discouragement. Suffer not a Pharisaical hardness to come in and hurt your brother. Let no bitter sneer rise in mind or heart. Let no tinge of scorn be manifest in the voice. If you speak a word of your own, if you take an attitude of indifference, or show suspicion or distrust, it may prove the ruin of a soul. He needs a brother with the Elder Brother's heart of sympathy to touch his heart of humanity. Let him feel the strong clasp of a sympathizing hand, and hear the whisper, Let us pray. God will give a rich experience to you both. Prayer unites us with one another and with God. Prayer brings Jesus to our side, and gives to the fainting, perplexed soul new strength to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. Prayer turns aside the attacks of Satan.” {Christ’s Object Lessons p. 250.2}


Ellen White on why we hold grudges and evil speak against one another.

“You have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to him and taking the steps which God has absolutely commanded. You say: "Why, I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain." What burdened you? Was it not a plain neglect of your own duty, of a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go and tell the offender his fault between you and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how could you be otherwise than burdened unless your heart was hardened while you were trampling the command of God underfoot, and in your heart hating your brother or neighbor? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission in not telling your brother his fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself by a sin of commission by telling your brother's faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease--by committing sin?

All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose, and pursue the evil course they have begun? This will frequently occur. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly, and leave them with your heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul; their sin no longer rests upon you; you are not now partaker of their sin. But if they perish, their blood is upon their own head.” {Testimonies for the Church Volume 2 p. 53.1, 2}


Ellen White’s dream concerning lack of love for one another in the church.

“Last night I dreamed that a small company were assembled together to have a religious meeting. There was one who came in and seated himself in a dark corner, where he would attract little observation. There was not a spirit of freedom. The Spirit of the Lord was bound. Some remarks were made by the elder of the church. He seemed to be trying to hurt someone. I saw a sadness upon the countenance of the stranger. It became apparent that there was not the love of Jesus in the hearts of those who claimed to believe the truth and there was, as the sure result, an absence of the spirit of Christ and a great want both in thoughts and feelings of love for God and for one another. The assembling together had not been refreshing to anyone.

As the meeting was about to close, the stranger arose and with a voice that was full of sorrow and of tears, he told them that they had a great want in their own souls, and in their own experience, of the love of Jesus, which was present in large measure in every heart where Christ took up His abode. Every heart renewed by the Spirit of God would not only love God but love his brother, and if that brother made mistakes, if he erred, he must be dealt with after the gospel plan. Every step must be followed according to the directions given in the Word of God. "'Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted'" (Galatians 6:1), he said. "Rememberest thou not the prayer of Christ just before He left His disciples for His long, agonizing struggle in the garden of Gethsemane, before His betrayal, His trial, and His crucifixion?" (See John 17:15-23). . . .

Be careful how you treat the purchase of the blood of Christ. There will be need of plain and faithful reproving of evil works, but let the one who takes this work upon him know that he is not separated from Christ by evil works himself. He must be spiritual and restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. . . .

The spirit and character of Christ are manifested in the chosen of God, by their heavenly conversation, their meekness, their blameless conduct. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.--Manuscript 32, May 28, 1887, diary, "Visit to Germany." {This Day With God p. 157}


Ellen White on Matthew 5:23, 24.

“When one who professes to serve God wrongs or injures a brother, he misrepresents the character of God to that brother, and the wrong must be confessed, he must acknowledge it to be sin, in order to be in harmony with God. Our brother may have done us a greater wrong than we have done him, but this does not lessen our responsibility. If when we come before God we remember that another has aught against us, we are to leave our gift of prayer, of thanksgiving, of freewill offering, and go to the brother with whom we are at variance, and in humility confess our own sin and ask to be forgiven.

If we have in any manner defrauded or injured our brother, we should make restitution. If we have unwittingly borne false witness, if we have misstated his words, if we have injured his influence in any way, we should go to the ones with whom we have conversed about him, and take back all our injurious misstatements.

If matters of difficulty between brethren were not laid open before others, but frankly spoken of between themselves in the spirit of Christian love, how much evil might be prevented! How many roots of bitterness whereby many are defiled would be destroyed, and how closely and tenderly might the followers of Christ be united in His love! {Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing p. 58, 59}


As we can see, God is interested in getting us to love one another so much that we leave nothing to destroy our relationship with each other. Remember friends, love is keeping the Law and Jesus said:


Matthew

22:36 Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law?

22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

22:39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If we are lacking love for one another, we are sinning. Let us not fall into this trap. God would have us love each other no matter what the circumstance. Jesus came into a world that did not love Him. He came to His own people and they didn’t love Him. He won our love by loving us first.


I John

4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.


This is His call to all of His people: Love even if you aren’t loved back. Why waste time and give the devil an advantage? If you have ought against someone, go to that brother or sister and make things right. If you cannot make things right, at least make sure they know how much you want to have all malice, anger, hatred, dislike, or whatever out of your heart so that you can love like Jesus? What is holding you back from doing this, friend?



Titus 2:11-14

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