Perhaps one of the most abused and ignored aspects of a Christian’s walk is his attitude and behavior toward his fellow Christians. We have noticed, and we are sure you have also, that members of our churches have a tendency to treat each other with less consideration, respect and love than they show towards members of the world with whom they have contact. This seems to us a most lamentable situation.
The Holy Bible amply testifies that those of the church should live in harmony, unity and love, bearing each other’s burdens and sorrows. Paul urges the Ephesians to walk with longsuffering, “forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Christians’ attitudes toward each other should suggest amity, not contention. Jesus instructs Peter to forgive his brother not seven times, but seventy times seven. Patience is the rule here, not intolerance.
Psalm 15 asks, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?” the answer is found in the same Psalm – “He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.” So we can see that those who slander, backbite and gossip are considered undesirable and unfit for dwelling with the Lord. Perhaps we should think of this verse and many similar ones lest we engage in these spiritually unhealthy activities.
Nor does our obligation end with a mere tolerance of our neighbor. Our being Christians demands that we actively and willingly strive for the betterment and advantage, not only of self, but of our sisters and brothers in Christ. In Matthew 22:39, Jesus summarizes the second table of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Viewing our walk in this light should not lead us in ways of neutrality and pacifism. We need to take definite stands on current issues. We need to uphold our creeds and preserve the Truth. Scripture also calls us pilgrims and soldiers, instructing us in the battle of this life. Surely we must never let principle slip, in order to appear loving and “Christian.” We must never avoid disputes at the expense of losing the purity of the Word. But, even in these valid disagreements, we should remember to attack issues, actions and statements, not individuals themselves.
We think the words of admonition found in Matthew 7:1-5 should be applied practically today, as always. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother; Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Usually when a person tends to the shortcomings of his own nature, he lacks both the time and the audacity to attack the imperfections in others.