Sunday, July 17, 2016 am                                                        Others 2016 Index

The Blessing of Brethren (1)


This year we have been addressing the impact of our lives as Christians on others.  Last week we began a study of what the Bible teaches us about being brethren.   We demonstrated how the church is the family God with us being brethren and our need to act like it.    We noted that 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 calls for us to function as a body.  Paul’s point is that EVERY part is important and needs each other.  We need to appreciate how we are the body of Christ and members individually (1 Cor. 12:27).  However, there seemed to be a problem with that at Corinth.  Notice that Paul has to say this because they were NOT functioning as a body.   He gives illustrations of “parts” that think they don’t need the rest of the body (because the foot says it is not a hand – 1 Cor. 12:15-16), and other “parts” that refuse to function because they are not the part they wanted to be (12:21).   And he notes that is NOT how we are supposed to function.

Yet how often do brethren fail to appreciate what it means to be part of a brotherhood?  Do we find ourselves thinking we don’t need the church?  In this lesson we want to notice some blessings associated with being brethren.

Paul was thankful for his brethren. Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Philippians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:3 where he thanks God for Timothy and Philemon 4, where he is thankful for Philemon, etc.  Over and over Paul is grateful that he has brethren that he cares for and cares for him.  In this oft repeated expression, we find Paul realizes what a blessing his brethren really are.  And as we begin our study of our relationship to one another we want to remind ourselves of some of these blessings. 

 I.                     We are likeminded. 

a.       Scriptures calls for us to be likeminded – Philippians 2:1-2, Romans 12:16 – we are to be of the same mind toward one another. 
Paul’s desire was that this like-minded attitude prevail (Romans 15:5)
Philippians 2:20, as Paul sends Timothy to these brethren, he can do so with confidence because, “I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

b.       This can be a blessing because we are dealing with those who we can relate to – we should have the same worldview and mindset.  The foundation of our very existence our appeal to the same standard. 
It is imperative that we are of like mind in how we establish authority for what we do.
WHEN these things are present, this likeminded attitude becomes the ligaments that join us together.  Colossians 2:18-19 warns us to not be cheated out of our reward by practicing error with those who fail to hold fast to Christ the Head of the body, “nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 

c.        When I look at the way this world is falling apart and how bitterly we are divided (which is a product of ungodly attitudes and views), I need to step back and realize that there is a place where I can find refuge from that hate – it is my brethren.  We come together because of this.  We understand each other and can relate to one another.  That IS a blessing from God!

 II.                   We are a source of encouragement and comfort –

a.       At times we all become discouraged.  Again we look at the times we are in and how as nation (and world) we are becoming increasingly more ungodly.  It seems hopeless.  Even in the religious world, we see troubling times with compromise and rejection of God’s word.

b.       The word translated encourage in the New Testament (παρακαλέω, parakaleō) means literally “to call to one’s side.”   The idea is to stand beside someone when they need it.  It is related to comforting, consolation, being there for them, exhorting and cheering them up.

c.        But God has given us brethren as a source of encouragement.   1 Thessalonians 5:11 calls for us to comfort and edify one another.  Vs. 14 calls for us to comfort the fainthearted. 
Hebrews 12:12 we strengthen the hands that hang down. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul speaks of the comfort we find in God and with which we are to comfort one another. 

d.       Paul was often encouraged by brethren (Philippians 2:19) and he sought to encourage them (Colossians 2:2, 1 Thess. 3:2 – Timothy sent).    Romans 1:11-12 summarizes this, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

e.       This is again a blessing to us BECAUSE we are like-minded and because we care about each other as we ought to (loving one another).

 III.                 We find inspiration

a.       Inspiration is often used to describe God’s word being delivered by Him (2 Tim. 3:16).  But in our modern day it is also used to describe one who is moved or stirred up to act in a productive way.  While the word is not used that way in scripture, the idea is there.

b.       The very idea of being an example to one another portrays this idea.  Paul told Timothy to be an example to the believers in all areas of life (1 Timothy 4:12-16).  In so doing, he would save himself and those who heard him.   
Matthew 5:16 – we our light shines, people see our good works and glorify God.

Hebrews 10:24, we are to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.

c.        Romans 10:14, at times Paul acted to provoke to jealousy his brethren in hopes that he would win some. 
2 Corinthians 9:2, Paul used the commitment of the Corinthians to stir up others to give.

d.       Peter wrote his letter to stir up these brethren by reminding them (2 Peter 1:13).  Later he would say he writes to stir up their pure minds (3:1). 

e.       We have all heard the stories of someone whose example kept someone else going.  We have seen those who have “beaten the odds” in spite of their circumstances.  We see godly men and women with maturity to deal with doctrinal and moral matters.  Those whose faith we seek to follow (cf. Hebrews 13:7) because of what they are. 
When we are actively part of the Lord’s body, our brethren can become a great source of inspiration to us.   Like Paul in Philippians 1:12-14 whose suffering had cause most of the brethren to become confident and “much more bold to speak the word of God without fear”. What a blessing that is.

 IV.                 We are a source of correction

a.       We sometimes don’t want to think about this, but it is needed. 

b.       The world and the worldly (even within the Lord’s body) will let you do whatever you want for the most part.  But is that really what is best when you are doing the wrong thing?  Is it even the RIGHT thing to do?  HONESTLY – we know better than that!

c.        In His wisdom, God has blessed us with brethren who will help us do what is right – by guiding us and correcting us when it is needed.  This is taught throughout the New Testament. 
Galatians 6:1-2, James 5:19-20. 
1 Thessalonians 5:14 calls for us to warn the unruly as well as comfort the fainthearted.
We are told in Hebrews 12:5-12 not to despise the chastening of the Lord.   It is for our own good. 
Matthew 18:15-17 gives the process of dealing with a sinning brother.
Even the goal of withdrawing from a sinful brother has this in mind – 1 Corinthians 5:4-7.

d.       Rather than seeing brethren who are coming to you with their concerns as a curse or troubling, think of it as the blessing God intends for it to be.  1 Corinthians 5:5 -  notice the goal of discipline.

 V.                   We are a source of help

a.       From time to time we all need help! Sometimes it is the spiritual struggles.  At other times, we need help physically in various ways.   Our society knows that we help with many things – addictions, legal troubles, family problems, etc.  Sometimes the help offered (and advertised) is genuine, but at other times it is very self-serving (I think of litigious lawyers, unscrupulous lenders, etc.).  Even repairs at home, trying to find someone you trust is a challenge (unless you already know them).  Sometimes the help offered only addresses symptoms rather than the real problems.  Such is the nature of “help” in this world.

b.       Our brethren are a genuine source of help.  They care about us and there for us – both spiritually and physically.  And we ought to care about them and be there for them.  
There are many examples in scripture of brethren being there for each other – Acts 4:32-37, 11:27-30 where brethren in Antioch determined to help brethren in Judea. 

c.        Romans 12:10-15 describes some of the things we do for each other. 
In Galatians 6:1-2, we are concerned about their spiritual welfare, and in that (and perhaps in other matters) we are to bear one another’s burdens (a word that means a heavy load).
James 2:14-17 describes how genuine faith and love will care for others.
We have brothers, mothers, sisters and houses, etc.  Mark 10:29-30.
Galatians 6:10, as we have opportunity, we do good for all, especially our brethren. 

d.       Of course, we should not take advantage of our brethren, as in using our liberties as an opportunity for the flesh (Galatians 5:13), but nevertheless, we are to be here for one another and willing to help each other.  We have brethren here who will do whatever they can for you!  That is a genuine blessing of brethren.


Next week we will continue this study by noticing some more blessings associated with being brethren.  In reality we are introducing SOME of the “one another” concepts we are going to be studying, but I want us to know up front that we need each other and that needs to be central in our lives as Christians.