It has been said that love is the source of peace and harmony. If your love grows cold, you will see your peace disappear. This statement can be applied to the church. If our love for one another grows cold, peace between us will slowly disappear. The Christian’s attitude toward one another should be that of Christ. Just because the world is divided doesn’t mean the church has to be. What type of attitudes should we have towards the brethren?
We should have an attitude of love.
There are two types of love that we should have toward each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. The first kind of love is brotherly love. This type of love is often shown in close friendships. It is a mutual type of love. This is a generous and affectionate love that seeks to make the other person happy with no expectation for the acts of kindness to be returned. A great example of this brotherly love is found in I Sam. 18:1 – 3 with David and Johnathan. The Bible tells us Jonathan loved David as himself, “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.” This type of love should be on full display in the kingdom.
The second kind of love is agape love. This love is the most noble and powerful type of love because it is an act of the will. The greatest example of agape love is our Lord on the cross. He sacrificed Himself for the world. That is unconditional love. Our love toward each other should be unconditional. We are image bearers of God; as He loves us unconditionally, we ought to reflect the same type of love toward each other.
Consider some passages with me:
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:9,10).
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood” (I Peter 2:17).
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly” (I Peter 4:8).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7).
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (I John 4:10,11).
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Love is connected with the character of God; since God is love, His children must bear this quality. What does it look like to show love? To show love means that I’m going to offer forbearance. Eph. 4:1 – 2 states, “I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.” Another way we can show love is by warning each other about unruly behavior. I Thess. 5:14, “We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Lastly, forgiving each other. Paul wrote, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
Our Lord embodied these characteristics while on earth. He was forbearing, He was concerned about the spiritual wellbeing of others, and He was forgiving. This is love. Does this type of love dwell in you? Do you have brotherly love in your heart? Does agape love flow through you?
We should have an attitude of peace.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Webster defines this word “peacemaker” a person who helps to prevent or stop an argument, a fight or a war. The characteristics of a peacemaker is someone who is friendly, agreeable, adaptable, trusting, and empathetic.
A peacemaker desires to live in peace and harmony. A peacemaker has the attitude of reconciliation. In other words, they are willing and ready to resolve any conflict. It is imperative that we manifest an attitude of peace. Peace produces unity. Unity breeds harmony and strength. This is what the church needs, especially during times like this: we cannot allow political, racial and personal matters to divide us as the church.
Jesus said, “be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). The Hebrew writer wrote, “Pursue peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14). Galatians 5:22, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self – control; against such things is no law.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:13, “be at peace among yourselves.” Paul had to remind two sisters in Christ to live in harmony in Philippians 4:2, “I urge Euodia, and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.”
Jesus said, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23 – 24). When you look at this text, our Lord stresses the importance of resolving conflict. Those present during this sermon would have been familiar with offering a gift at the altar as a part of temple worship. Jesus’ main point in these two verses is very simple: make peace with your brother or sister before you enter into worship. In other words, temporarily set aside your religious actions and make things right. Be a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9).
The problem that we have today is that if there is any conflict, instead of being at peace with one another, we just leave and go to another congregation down the road. We avoid conflict. We don’t do the hard work of loving each other enough to hang in there and sort things out. God expects His children to resolve conflict, not sweep it under the rug and pretend everything is fine.
It would not be acceptable worship in the eyes of God if an individual comes before Him, yet harbors hate, anger, unforgiveness, or bitterness in their hearts toward a brother or sister in Christ. We must continue to live in harmony with each other. The god of this world will try everything in his power to divide the church. We cannot give the enemy a foothold. I’m reminded of what Paul told the church in Corinth, and what he told them can apply to us. He said, “Aim for perfect harmony, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.”
How is your attitude toward the brethren? Having an attitude of love and peace will ultimately strengthen the church. An attitude of hate will divide the church.