Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says Yahweh of Hosts. Zechariah 4:6
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in! Who is this King of Glory?
Yahweh of Hosts: He is the King of Glory. Psalm 24:9-10
"Let those who fear you turn to me,
those who know your testimonies."
As the believer finds trouble from the world, he prays that he may find help from the Lord's people. The very sight of our Father's family is cheering. It brings not only fellowship but help. The wise distribution of gifts in the body of Christ--each member having his own gift--was ordained for the mutual help and sympathy of the individual members. It is painful, therefore, to see Christians often walking aloof from each other and allowing coldness, distance, differences and distrust to divide them from their brethren. Who then will not pray that he who has the hearts of all his people in his hand would turn the hearts of those who fear him and know his testimonies to their brethren?
It was the honor of Mordecai that he was "great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren." In the early church Demetrius had "a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself." The members of the church generally "ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people." "Then," as Chrysostom exultingly exclaims, "the Church was a little heaven." Then they could say to each other, "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Even their heathen neighbors were awed and constrained to confess, "See how these Christians love one another."
How sad it is that our Jerusalem should no longer exhibit the picture of a "city compact together" (Ps. 122:3). How sad that so many "walls of partition" should separate brother from brother, so that our Zion has very rarely been exhibited in her "perfection of beauty," when "the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul." Prejudice and misconception divided Job from his friends. Lack of forbearance blighted the union of the members of the church of Rome and even prevailed to separate chief friends Paul and Barnabas. Contentious divisions injured the influence of brotherly love at Corinth. And thus it has been in every successive age of the church, so that the full answer to the Redeemer's prayer--"that they all may be one"--is yet to be manifested. Yet "the communion of saints" was the peculiar feature of early Christianity and ever since has formed an article of her faith. Thus it shall be that in the same proportion as we return to this apostolic standard shall we hold closer fellowship with each other as members of one body, considering one another in order to stir up love and good works. We will bear one another's burdens and receive one another as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
Lack of Christian self-denial presents the main hindrance to keeping unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Admittedly, some of the brethren are weak in the faith in comparison with ourselves. Even so, are we to be "rolling endlessly the returning stone," forever thrusting the same stumbling offense upon them? No, we are not to please ourselves in compelling them to adopt our views. Rather, we are to receive them and bear their infirmities. Accursed be that love which is preserved by "the shipwreck of faith!"
Though scriptural truth must never be denied, there are times when it may be withheld. The Apostle Paul knew and was persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there was nothing unclean of itself. Yet he would rather allow the weaker brother a misconception of conscience until clearer light should be given him than endanger the unity of the church. Liberty must give place to love. For Paul himself, he would rather restrain from lawful indulgence than hazard the safety of a weaker brother and turn away from one who loved the Savior. Wherever we find those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, we must, in accordance with Christian love, be ready to give them our very hearts and view them as brethren--as one with ourselves. With all their infirmities we are to welcome them with brotherly love as those whom Jesus is not ashamed to call his brethren. We must be ready to welcome them as those who fear God and know his testimonies.
Does not the believer's anxiety for the company and assistance of the Lord's people rebuke those Christian professors who are far too closely linked to the society of the world? Surely, if the magnetic charm of worldly society can compensate for the absence of their Savior's image, then they can have but little relish for that heavenly enjoyment which unites the children of God together in close and hallowed communion with God. And do we not see a proof of the degenerating influence of this worldly spirit in the readiness to feel disgust at the infirmities of the real brethren of the Lord? Should we disregard the image of Christ in them because of the unsightliness of the garb that may sometimes cover it?
Let us take notice of the fully mature Christian. He is one who combines the fear of God with the knowledge of God; for knowledge without fear would be self-confidence and fear without knowledge would be bondage. It is the knowledge of God's testimonies joined to a familiarity with his ways that molds the character of men of God into the spirit of love and qualifies them to counsel the weak and inexperienced.
Yet it may be we are denied the privilege to help the weaker brother. If so, let it be the appointed means of leading us to a more simple dependence on Divine teaching and grace as well as to a more blessed anticipation of our Father's house in heaven where all will be harmony, peace, and love. We shall carry truth and the knowledge of God to heaven with us. We shall carry purity there, devotion to God and our Redeemer, divine love and joy, and whatever else of permanent excellence has a settled place in our souls. In heaven we shall have them all in perfection. But do you think we shall carry strife to heaven? Shall we carry anger to heaven? Shall we carry envy, covetousness, and animosity to heaven? Then let us work now to rid ourselves of everything that shall not go with us there. Let us divest ourselves of everything unsuitable to our Christian walk in order that there may be nothing to obstruct and hinder our joyous entrance into the everlasting kingdom.
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