Good Relationships Among Brethren
by R.J. Evans
The Scripture provides much information concerning good relationships among those who are children of God. There are many positive teachings concerning how to get along — especially all the commands to love one another. There are a number of warnings against gossip, tale bearing, backbiting, slander, and sowing discord among brethren. The book of Proverbs is filled with wise instruction concerning relationships with others.
In the church, many problems have occurred because someone failed to abide by the teachings of God’s Word. Brethren are told to put “away lying, each speaking truth with a neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25); we are warned against causing “dissensions, contentions and heresies” (Gal. 5:20); those who are factious, causing “divisions and offenses” are to be marked (Rom. 16:17); a divisive person is to be rejected “after the first and second admonition” (Titus 3:10); also, there are warnings against being “idle, wandering from house to house, not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (1 Tim. 5:13).
But what about those occasions when we believe someone has sinned against us? Are we told what to do? Are we supposed to go around telling everyone, except the person himself, that he has sinned against us? Indeed, the Bible does give clear instructions on what to do in this situation — see Matthew 18:15-17. Notice the very first step: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (V. 15). How many do this? It seems to be so much easier to go to someone else first, and gain a sympathetic ear, rather than following what the Bible teaches. Quite often, those who operate like this, have not even been sinned against. It’s often pettiness, hurt feelings, jealousy, an “ax to grind,” etc., and not actually a sin, to begin with. Also, the other person may be totally unaware of any wrong they might have done. The passage goes on and gives further instructions: “But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Vv. 16-17).
Years ago, when living in another state, we had a sister move from across the city and place membership with the congregation where I preached. We’ll call her “sister Smith.” Before she identified with us, the preacher where she had been attending told me that she had many admirable qualities, but to be careful, because she occasionally had a tendency to “stir things up.” Well, after she had been with us for several months, I was in my study one day and the phone rang. It was sister Smith. After the usual greetings, she then proceeded to start telling me how she had been “wronged” by a particular couple in the congregation. I’ll just refer to them as the “Jones.” They were fine Christians, very faithful and diligent in the Lord’s work. They had been with us a number of years. As soon as I realized what she was attempting to do, I stopped her. I told her that I should not be a party to what she was beginning to tell me about this couple. This brother had his own business, so I gave her his office phone number and suggested she call him immediately and set up an appointment with him and his wife. Sister Smith immediately became somewhat “rattled” and started backing away from what she was about to tell me. From that point on, with my insisting that she contact this couple, the conversation ended rather quickly. At the next service of the church, I asked sister Smith if she had contacted the Jones couple about her complaints. Essentially, what she proceeded to tell me was that after giving it some more thought, she realized that it was all a big misunderstanding on her part and she had no problem with this couple. Never again did another incident like that one ever come up involving sister Smith.
That’s interesting, isn’t it? How many problems could be solved if Christians were willing to simply follow Bible instructions concerning establishing and maintaining good relationships among brethren. Some make a practice of dropping little “bomb shells” about someone, but immediately follow it up by saying — “But I don’t know anything about it,” “But I’m not getting involved,” or “Oops, I shouldn’t have said that.” Such subtle actions, in reality, already have them involved. They are simply “stirring things up”! They have already done their damage. Those who conduct themselves in such a manner, destroy what credibility they may have had by their “behind the back” actions. Please note, concerning the seven things that God hates, what is listed in Proverbs 6:19: “A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”
When dealing with such deeds as just mentioned, the information that might have been revealed should be dealt with in a similar manner as having received an anonymous letter — dispose of it in the proverbial “File 13”!
My Rock & My Redeemer
by Mike Johnson
Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Consider the last part of the verse where the Psalmist refers to God as his strength and redeemer.
The Hebrew word translated “strength” (NKJV) is defined by Vine’s Expository Dictionary as “rock; rocky wall; cliff; rocky hill; mountain; rocky surface; boulder.” Many translations actually translate the original word as “rock,” (i.e. O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer). A husband, for example, may refer to his wife as “his rock.” He would be pointing out his wife is his “strength”; she provides stability for the family. God is our rock; He provides us with strength and with safety; He is our refuge. Psalm 18:2 says, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:31 says, “For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” Psalm 46:1 points out, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
Also, the Psalmist, thought to be David, refers to God as his “Redeemer.” The word used here simply means to “buy back,” and when applied to God it means a deliverer from sin, death, or danger. David probably could recall many occasions where God had delivered him, but David may not have understood the details regarding the true price of redemption. The cost would be Jesus, having been sent by God, dying for the sins of mankind on the cross. Thus, in the ultimate sense, Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Job said, in Job 19:25, “For I know that my redeemer lives….”
Is God your Rock and Redeemer today? If not, why don’t you make him that?
— via Biblelist, 11/24/15
News & Notes
Let those of us who are God’s children be remembering the following in prayer:
Shirley Davis has been have some terrible arthritic pains in her legs.
Misty Thornton (heart trouble), Joseph Cooper (had been on life support, but is slowly improving), Rebekah Hampton (POT Syndrome), Deborah Medlock (neck and shoulder problem), Rex Hadley (bypass blockage), Dexter Roberts (cancer in lymph nodes and several places), Steve Vesta (critically ill), Shirley Davis (arthritic pains), Eleanor Roberts (Alzheimer’s disease), Henry Roberts (pain in back and feet), Judy Daugherty (undergoing physical therapy three times a week), Danielle Howard (has trouble at times with her blood pressure and heart rate), Mary Vandevander and Sue Wooten (shut-ins), Sunny Nichols (Parkinson Disease), Jean Beach (gastrointestinal problems), Michelle Rittenhouse (PVCs), Raylee Metts and Lexi Crawford (cancer), Anthony Monroe Jr. (hearing problem), Betty Miles (stroke), Don Hill (cancer), Colleen Henson, Donell Wells, and Kelsey Williams
The gospel meeting at the church of Christ in Hoboken begins next Sunday and continues to Wednesday (Oct 11-14), meeting at 7:30 for the weeknights, with Andy Berendt as the guest speaker. The church meets at 5101 Main Street.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)