Vol.VII No.II Pg.3
April 1970

When Brethren Differ

Robert F. Turner

Now there are brethren, and brethren!! Children born in the same hospital have something in common. They may join the same Memorial Hospital Alumni Association, but they are brethren in a limited sense only. Such membership is no assurance that they have the same parents. (Pause, and think on that for awhile.)

But there are brethren in Christ, born of the same seed (Jas. 1:18), and children of God as proven by their works. (Jn. 8: 39-44; 1 Jn. 3:9-10; Mat. 5: 44-f) These are children in the same family, members of the one body, which is the church (Eph. 1:22-23), in a sense far more meaningful than mere congregational association — although they may, of course, have that in common also. This article concerns the later class — brothers and sisters of common divine parentage.

Such brethren are of the same mind (have a common desire) in matters religious (Rom. 12:16 15:5-7) with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Phil. 1:27) They are kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Rom. 12:10); they submit to one another (Eph. 5: 21-24) in the fear of God — seeing no contradiction in this submission, and subjection to Gods plan for proper rule and oversight. (1 Thes. 5: 12-f)

They do nothing through strife or vainglory, for each is more concerned for the others well—being than for his own (Phil. 2:3-f), and their love for one another is such that each is kind, suffering long, humbled, thinking no evil, but rejoicing in the truth. (1 Cor. 13: 4-7) It is a rare thing for brethren like this to have serious difficulties.

When such brethren differ in religious matters-— as is to be expected among free-thinking men — their respect for the word of God, and its harmony, make them at once aware that the difference is of human origin. In humility and candor they ask, Is it I? Have I failed to fully study and understand Gods will in this matter? Have I failed to understand my brother — to walk in his shoes? The difference may be one of judgement — so diverse that each must continue his faithful service of God fully persuaded in his own mind. (Rom. 14:5-f) Paul could depart asunder from Barnabas, in such matters; and could report that Barnabas had, in hypocrisy, walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel; (Acts 15: 39 ;Gal. 2:11-14) and yet maintain respect for the man Barnabas. (Note, even Barnabas, or Barnabas also) (Note his continued regard for Mark. Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11)

While you are thinking up a sharp reply about how Barnabas and Mark must have corrected their error, consider the attitudes, love for truth, and Christ-like treatment that must have influenced the correction. When true brethren in Christ differ, each is anxious to discuss the issue in the light of Gods word. They study and pray together in love.

And should you ask about brethren who differ in bitter envy and strife, — Hmmmmm, you must know the wrong kind of brethren!! (Jas. 3:10-18)