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My Brother's Keeper

by Lester Bauman

Attitudes That Promote Brotherhood

chapter 3

C. Relationship Attitudes

Relationship attitudes are an important factor in maintaining brotherhood in the Christian community. You cannot legislate brotherhood; it is totally dependent on the personal convictions and attitudes of each member. You cannot don brotherhood as you would a suit of clothing. If you do not have it in your heart, you do not have it, no matter what you wear or what you say.

Poor relationships in the congregation are almost always the result of a lack of brotherhood. If brotherhood is faltering in a congregation, it will almost always surface first in a breakdown of the relationship attitudes.

1. Humility

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Humility is one of the most difficult of the brotherhood attitudes to cultivate. It is totally opposed to our natural inclinations. Eve ate the forbidden fruit because she wanted more prestige. We almost automatically seek the same. But the humble Christian is more concerned about his brother's success and prestige than he is about his own.

Humility takes a lot of the tension out of church life. If we are not worried about our prestige, we do not have to fight to maintain it. We can be much more relaxed when we teach a Sunday school class. We do not need to be embarrassed or offended if our thought is shot down by someone else. It does not need to bother us if we "lose" the election for Sunday school superintendent. We can honestly rejoice at the good thought a brother shares, or the position he is asked to fill.

If I am humble, my brother is no longer a threat to me. Since I have not prestige to maintain, I do not need to worry that my brother will undercut it. I am free to love him, no matter what!

2. Service

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).

Paul wrote the Book of Galatians to counteract the idea that Gentile believers should follow the Old Testament Law in order to find Christian perfection. Paul told the Galatians that they had been called to liberty, not to the bondage of the Law. However, Paul must also have realized that his words could easily be misinterpreted (as they often are today). He added a qualifier: "Do not use your liberty as an excuse to sin. Use it to serve your brother."

All of these relationship attitudes are contrary to our natural responses and desires. This one is no exception. Because of our nature, we enjoy it when others serve us. We feel somewhat put out when we have to serve others. Somehow it makes us feel important when others serve us, and demeaned when we need to serve them.

Jesus taught the very opposite. If you want to be important, serve others. If you are called to be a leader of God's children, be their servant. Do not expect your brother to wash your feet; wash his!

We have all met people who are parasites. They are always glad for the help of others, but seldom have time to reciprocate. This destroys brotherhood. But brotherhood is enhanced when God's people are more concerned about helping their brethren than they are about getting their brethren to help them.

from chapter three of My Brother's Keeper
© Copyright, Christian Light Publications

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