Who Are My Brethren?
(More Hard Lessons Learned)
Today and everyday, I need to remember that in light of my own felt weakness and sinful folly, and in light of the long-suffering and loving-kindness of God towards *all* of His elect, when it comes to those who uncompromisingly profess the Gospel truth, and who are not walking in some prolonged, outwardly egregious, irreverent manner, I need to make every effort:
- To count them as brethren in Christ;
- To think as highly of them as possible;
- To give them the benefit of the doubt as to their motives, rationales, words, and actions;
- To overlook their “less desirable” characteristics, even when those traits rub against my preferences and personality;
- To be as kind, compassionate, and peaceable with them as possible (being slow to anger and to the use of harsher, more forceful, language);
- To remember that they are but flesh (as am I), sinners saved by grace, and thus prone to changes in demeanor, mood, temperance, diligence, obedience, and steadfastness; degrees of confidence, assurance, comfort, peace, rest, and joy; and that they will most assuredly experience variance in their physical, social, familial, economic, mental, emotional, and even spiritual states (temporally-speaking) throughout their sojourn here.
- To be as quick as possible to not only forgive their trespasses (especially when forgiveness is sought) but to forget them as well, as God enables, even as I would desire to be forgiven of my foolish ways;
- To be far, far, far more apt to pray for them, in a spirit of meekness and humility, than to speak out against them, let alone condemn them, especially in any public sense;
- To make every effort to remember my own faults, stumblings, and folly; my own biblical ignorance and error; and to extend to them that same degree of leeway, compassion, patience, care, fidelity, and love that others, most notably our Lord, extended (and still extends) to me in my hours of need.
- (10) To remember that bruised reeds, smoking flax, and “weaker brethren” (so-called) may be prone to condemn themselves when the Lord Jesus (who bought them) does not; or may be deep in despair, harassed by doubt, overwhelmed with the sight of sin, and made to feel their own weakness – even to the point of being beyond immediate consolation; or they may be ready to question the reality of their own profession, wondering if they have deceived themselves and others (but certainly not God); yet, I must remember not to speak or act towards them in any way that would serve to break them, quench them, or cause them to halt, stumble, or unnecessarily doubt or despair; but rather, to point them to Christ, and His blood, and the forgiveness, peace, and comfort found therein.
I write this as an ideal, as something to strive towards, knowing how thoroughly I miss the mark in living up to these words (needing to be daily reminded). I write this as a call to remembrance and as a confession of my shortcomings; yet, it is my prayer, nonetheless. May it be that God will increasingly give me, and all of His people, this spirit and mindset — so that we may indeed experience a greater sense of that unity amongst brethren that He has called us unto. Even now I feel like a hypocrite writing it, but know that my heart is in it, by God’s grace, and that I long to have these things become an ever-increasing, and ever-present, reality in my life.
Finally, I write this knowing that it is no excuse for compromise and ungodly ecumenism. My words apply to those who promote the True Gospel, who love the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in Scripture, who desire to serve Him and to do His will (and not their own). We are not called to be unequally yoked with the Arian, Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, Sacramentalist, Talmudist, Mohammedan, Polytheist, Pantheist, Cultist, or any other worshiper of the fallen human will and imagination. Likewise, we are not called to have fellowship and communion with hedonists, libertines, and others who take upon themselves the name of Christ whilst ever walking in a lewd, riotous, or debaucherous manner. Lastly, we are not called to stand or walk with those who profess a love for Christ and His Gospel, but who *knowingly* embrace as Christian brethren, those who reject free and sovereign grace, particular redemption, and other core tenets of absolute Gospel truth. There is no justification for spiritual unity with unrepentant Calminians (often called “Tolerant Calvinists”), Amyraldians (and other “Four-point Calvinists”), or any other such who would seek to water down the Gospel, take away the offense of the cross, give false hope to lost religionists, or who would bid Godspeed to those who do.
To God be the glory