Brother Forgive Brother



“And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” 

Matthew 18:34, 35

     Another grave evil that had arisen in the church was that of brethren going to law against one another. Abundant provision had been made for the settlement of difficulties among believers. Christ Himself had given plain instruction as to how such matters were to be adjusted. "If thy brother shall trespass against thee," the Saviour had counseled, "go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:15-18.    

     To the Corinthian believers who had lost sight of this plain counsel, Paul wrote in no uncertain terms of admonition and rebuke. "Dare any of you," he asked, "having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? . . . Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" 

     Satan is constantly seeking to introduce distrust, alienation, and malice among God's people. We shall often be tempted to feel that our rights are invaded, even when there is no real cause for such feelings. Those whose love for self is stronger than their love for Christ and His cause will place their own interests first and will resort to almost any expedient to guard and maintain them. Even many who appear to be conscientious Christians are hindered by pride and self-esteem from going privately to those whom they think in error, that they may talk with them in the spirit of Christ and pray together for one another. When they think themselves injured by their brethren, some will even go to law instead of following the Saviour's rule. 

     Christians should not appeal to civil tribunals to settle differences that may arise among church members. Such differences should be settled among themselves, or by the church, in harmony with Christ's instruction. Even though injustice may have been done, the follower of the meek and lowly Jesus will suffer himself "to be defrauded" rather than open before the world the sins of his brethren in the church. 

     Lawsuits between brethren are a reproach to the cause of truth. Christians who go to law with one another expose the church to the ridicule of her enemies and cause the powers of darkness to triumph. They are wounding Christ afresh and putting Him to open shame. By ignoring the authority of the church, they show contempt for God, who gave to the church its authority.     

     In this letter to the Corinthians Paul endeavored to show them Christ's power to keep them from evil. He knew that if they would comply with the conditions laid down, they would be strong in the strength of the Mighty One. As a means of helping them to break away from the thralldom of sin and to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, Paul urged upon them the claims of Him to whom they had dedicated their lives at the time of their conversion. "Ye are Christ's," he declared. "Ye are not your own. . . . Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."  

AA 304-306   

     I counsel you, my brethren and sisters, to commence the New Year with a clean record.   For the truth's sake and for Christ's sake, make every effort in your power to right you wrongs. Search your hearts critically, analyze your feelings, and remove every cause of dissension. If you have defrauded your brother, angels have written it against you. If you have failed to make his case your own, and to manifest toward him tenderness and compassion, you have neglected your duty, and thus it stands registered against you.   Whatever have been the mistakes and errors of the past year, let them be canceled now; let them not be brought into the New Year, to mar the purity of its unwritten pages. Come to the Lord with hearts overflowing with thankfulness for past and present mercies, and manifest your appreciation of God's bounties by bringing to him your thank-offerings, your freewill-offerings, and your trespass offerings.    

     The Chinese new year is sacredly kept for one week, with great ceremony. Old debts are paid, old grudges are forgiven. If an individual cannot pay his debts, his fellow-Chinamen assist him, so that old accounts may not be carried into the new year. They say Joss (their god) will be angry with them if they neglect this work. Although these heathen are ignorant of the true God, yet in these things their example is worthy of imitation, even by Christians.    

     The worshipers of idols should not be in advance of the children of the living God. Shall not faults be confessed, and differences be put away, before we enter upon the New Year? Oh that in every church in our land there might be a settlement of old difficulties, that jealousies and wrongs between brethren might be made right! Would not the world's Redeemer and the holy angels look down upon such a scene with pleasure? Would not the heavenly arches ring with the sweet music, Peace on earth, good-will to men? Let us try to set things in order among us, that we may have the approbation of Heaven. Let us bring all our tithes into the store-house, and prove our Lord therewith, and see if he will not open the windows of Heaven, and pour us out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  

RH, January 4, 1881


     How can those for whom Christ has sacrificed so much, continue to enjoy his gifts selfishly? His love and self-denial are without a parallel; and when this love enters into the experience of his followers, they will identify their interests with those of their Redeemer. Their work will be to build up the kingdom of Christ. They will consecrate themselves and their possessions to him, and use both as his cause may require.    

     This is nothing more than Jesus expects of his followers. No individual who has before him so great an object as the salvation of souls will be at a loss to devise ways and means for denying self. This will be an individual work. All that it is in our power to bestow will flow into the Lord's treasury, to be used for the proclamation of truth, that the message of Christ's soon coming and the claims of his law may be sounded to all parts of the world. Missionaries must be sent out to do this work.    

     The love of Jesus in the soul will be revealed in word and deed. The kingdom of Christ will be paramount. Self will be laid a willing sacrifice on the altar of God. Every one who is truly united with Christ will feel the same love for souls that caused the Son of God to leave his royal throne, his high command, and for our sake become poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.

                                                             RH, October 13, 1896

         “But instead of using their means for the Master, how many embezzle it, invest it for themselves, furnishing their homes with rich carpets, fine furniture, and multiplying lands and houses to glorify themselves in the earth, while the needy call upon them in vain. If they do anything for the poor, they call them paupers, and look upon them with contempt. They do not consider from whence comes their intrusted capital, and that they are all the time receiving unnumbered blessings from God. If he should withhold his beneficence, they would be numbered with the poor.   We are all dependent upon the benevolence of a gracious God. The day will come when those who have cherished selfishness and covetousness, who have defrauded the poor, who have withdrawn mercy and love from them, will be made manifest.”

ST, June 13, 1892

     “When troubles arise in the church we should not go for help to lawyers not of our faith. God does not desire us to open church difficulties before those who do not fear Him. He would not have us depend for help on those who do not obey His requirements. Those who trust in such counselors show that they have not faith in God. By their lack of faith the Lord is greatly dishonored, and their course works great injury to themselves. In appealing to unbelievers to settle difficulties in the church they are biting and devouring one another, "to be consumed one of another" [Galatians 5:15].    

     These men cast aside the counsel God has given, and do the very things He has bidden them not to do. They show that they have chosen the world as their judge, and in heaven their names are registered as one with unbelievers. Christ is crucified afresh, and put to open shame. Let these men know that God does not hear their prayers. They insult His holy name, and He will leave them to the buffetings of Satan until they shall see their folly and seek the Lord by confession of their sin.    

     Matters connected with the church are to be kept within its own borders. If a Christian is abused, he is to take it patiently; if defrauded, he is not to appeal to courts of justice. Rather let him suffer loss and wrong. God will deal with the unworthy church member who defrauds his brother or the cause of God; the Christian need not contend for his rights. God will deal with the one who violates these rights. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." [Romans 12:19.] An account is kept of all these matters, and for all the Lord declares that He will avenge. He will bring every work into judgment.” 

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