CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG (7)
More attributes that promote unity
Bear in mind, as stated often before, for TRUE unity to be achieved EVERYONE needs to possess these qualities.
defines this word as, “earnestness, zeal”.
It is a word that primarily means “to make haste…then to treat
seriously or respectfully.” (#4710, TDNT)
This is something needed in every aspect of the Christian’s life. 2 Corinthians 8:7 says, “But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”
2 Peter 1:5 says, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,…”
The amount of diligence we put into something will have a great influence on its success.
application of this in seeking unity.
We have frequently noted that we will not achieve unity unless we
are willingness to work at it. Rom.
12:11, in describing the way we treat each other as brethren says we
should be, “not lagging in
diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
Sometimes the extent of our efforts toward unity is just wanting it. We don’t do much, either for or against achieving this peace and unity. We may even say a prayer, BUT what are we willing to DO to accomplish it? How hard are we willing to work at it?
Will we be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) or just peace lovers?
C. Every attribute we have discussed thus far and every attribute we will discuss in the future requires diligence to see its fullest gain.
II. Self-control –
is to be achieved, SOMEBODY has to maintain calm and in control.
As a sports official, it is constantly emphasized that we remain calm and controlled, especially in a volatile environment. When a coach is angry and arguing with an umpire, if he remains calm, it will usually diffuse the situation more quickly. Let the coach say his peace and move on. The point is that SOMEBODY has to stay in control.
remind ourselves of the need for self-control.
It is a fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:23 and it is one of the
“Christian graces” found in 2 Peter 1:6.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 is a list of sinful conduct that I describe as
the list of selfishness. It
includes those who are “without self-control” (3:3).
In my years of studying the Bible, I have come to the conclusion that every sin involves self-control in some way (i.e. the lack thereof). This applies to dealing with one another as brethren as well.
C. When we are faced with some volatile situation with our brethren, our first priority needs to be to stay calm and in control of ourselves. It is certainly true that the other party needs self-control as well, but even if he is “burning hot” in anger, if you remain calm it can more quickly diffuse the situation and most certainly it will keep you from making matters worse by adding your sins to the problem. We especially need to think about this when it comes to what we say and HOW we say it!
D. This is not to say, there is not a time to become angry (Eph. 4:26). But even in anger, we must be in control. Jesus was angry when He drove out the moneychangers and livestock merchants from the temple (cf. Lk. 19:45-46, Jn. 2:13-17), but He did NOT sin!
III. Honesty –
A. This is another Christian trait that cannot be overemphasized. In our studies we have noted the need for honesty in studying the scriptures and noting our own part in a given situation (i.e. we have to honestly ask ourselves if we are part of the problem; have we honestly evaluated the circumstances? etc.). But that is just a part of being honest.
Christian needs to live an honest life in all things.
When James 3:17 describes, “the wisdom that is from above” he
concludes the list by noting that it is “without hypocrisy.”
The hypocrite, by default is one who is NOT honest.
Eph. 4:25 calls for us to put away lying and “let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’, for we are members of one another.”
2 Peter 1:5 calls for us to add to our faith, “virtue” a word that describes moral excellence or integrity. This involves total honesty.
C. How does this contribute to unity? It will affect your approach to dealing with concerns. It will affect how others view you. When you have not acted honorably in times past, one who has a problem with you will use that against you. There are issues of trust and integrity involved. They may accuse you anyway (especially if they are not honest or do not desire peace), but if your life is right, it “will not stick” (1 Peter 2:12). Remember that we are talking about doing our part right, regardless of what the other party does.
IV. Fairness –
A. The word means, “free from bias, dishonesty and injustice.” (dictionary.com) We all know that in many ways this life is unfair. However, there are many times when fairness is within our control, but we choose to act in an unfair way. It is such that I speak of here.
demands that we act with fairness towards others.
While individual situations may warrant specific actions, our
conduct ought to be “without prejudice.”
Jas. 3:17 – describes the wisdom from above as being “without partiality”. Earlier in this book, James had spoken of showing favoritism to one over another in the assembly (Jas. 2:1-4). In Jas. 2:8-9 he notes that if we show partiality of this sort we commit sin.
Consider the example of Jacob with Joseph over his brothers. IT led to multiple problems including their hatred of Joseph, evil actions (selling him as a slave), etc. AND, such actions are NOT helpful in achieving unity among brethren.
C. As we develop an understanding of the Christian life, we need to carry it out with consistency. This is not only outward preference, but in dealing with situations.
Leaders need to consider this as they deal with problems. Again, we acknowledge each situation is different, but there needs to be a consistent standard at the foundation of decisions that are made.
D. Inconsistency and acting in an unfair manner can complicate matters of difference between brethren.
V. Willing to yield
A. One of the most sure ways to ensure failure in resolving conflict is to be stubborn and unyielding. While we fully understand that we cannot compromise the truth at all, we need to be willing to yield whenever possible. This applies especially when yielding can resolve problems.
again, describes the wisdom from above as being “willing to yield.”
The KJV uses the expression, “easy to be entreated.”
Romans 14:1, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.”
Romans 15:1, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
1 Corinthians 6:7-8, “…Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?...”
C. Far too many problems among brethren are more about personality conflicts than doctrinal differences. It is not uncommon for one to find some “doctrinal justification” for their actions, especially when there is an unwillingness to forgive, a stubborn determination to win the fight, some pet peeve with a brother that has been suppressed (or not), or the person is simply not the one you are closest to AND you want to “justify” your harsh and stubborn conduct. As long as such attitudes exist, unity will NEVER be achieved.
D. If it preserves the church, we ought to be willing to sacrifice our personal comforts and even the wrongs we have suffered at the hands of our brethren. Of course I realize there are times we cannot yield – for the sake of the congregation and purity, but too often we can do so much than we do to resolve our differences.
VI. Encouragement –
A. One of the blessings of the church is edification. The word means to build one another up. One way that we do this is to encourage each other. It ought to be a part of the fabric of who we are.
says, “Let no corrupt word proceed
out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it
may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:16 speaks of every
part doing its share causes the body to grow and be edified in love.”
1 Thess. 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
Hebrews 12:12-13, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”
C. Many problems that arise between brethren begin with criticisms and failures to adequately encourage one another as brethren. Sometimes brethren who have problems will not go to others because they don’t want to be lectured or looked down upon or treated in a less than kind way by others. While their attitude may not be right, sometimes their avoidance is understandable (i.e. there are enough attitude problems to go around).
D. Are we known more for our encouragement of our brethren or our criticisms?
VII. Tactfulness –
3:2-11 clearly identifies the dangers of the tongue.
It is a spiritual indicator of one’s life.
Continually we are warned to keep our tongues, even in texts
dealing with unity.
Note Ephesians 4:29 again. Also note Eph. 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you.”
B. Quite often, our tongues get us in trouble. Instead of healing a situation, we often make matters worse. And whether we want to hear this or not, quite often it is not what we say but HOW we say it.
10:16 Jesus said, “Behold, I send
you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as wolves.”
Among the traits to would apply to this is being tactful in your
Paul said in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Friends, these verses don’t just apply to those outside the body of Christ. They need to be implemented among ourselves as brethren too.
But what about harsh speech in the Bible? There are times when that is needed, but in my studies such times are reserved after other methods have been tried and failed. The typical disposition of Jesus was meek, tender and compassionate. His strong rebukes were reserved for those who ought to have known better (leaders, men full of hatred, false teachers, etc.) – these were the exception and not the rule. And BTW, in such cases, Jesus was often defending “the little man” as He rebuked them.
tactful may mean you have to wait for the right time to say something or
that you need to carefully choose your words of concern.
It may also mean that some things simply need to be let go for
now. For example: A babe in
Christ doesn’t need to be rebuked for every little thing they do that
you don’t agree with. Give
them time to learn and grow.
The same is true in dealing with brethren we have differences with. AGAIN, we need to FIRST ask, how much do I want to resolve this problem? What can I do (or not do) and not compromise my faith?
VIII. Brotherly kindness -
A. In 2 Pet. 1:7 as we approach the pinnacle of the Christian graces, we find brotherly love (kindness). It is from the Greek work, Philadelphia, and means the love of brethren. IT is a different kind of love than AGAPE. This is genuine feelings for one another. This is a relationship that has developed so that we are so close to one another, we are like family. IF we were in a circumstance where we had to choose, our spiritual family would gladly come first.
Peter 1:22 we read, “Since you
have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in
sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure
1 Thess. 4:9-10 gives us a great example, “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more”
Finally we simply read in Hebrews 13:1, “Let brotherly love continue.
line of this is that we have to treat each other as brethren.
The point being, we need REAL
RELATIONSHIPS with one another.
We CARE about each other passionately and we WANT our
relationship to thrive.
Everything we have talked about in this lesson and previous lessons about godly attitudes that promote unity can be summarized in this attribute. WE CARE ABOUT EACH OTHER so much that we will do ANYTHING to keep the family together!