Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Unity Among Brethren

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Unity is indeed pleasant and good. It is, unfortunately unattainable with those of the world. They stand opposed to truth and righteousness. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’” (Matthew 10:34-36). It is a common, but unfortunate mistake to think that we can be one with the worldly. This can only happen if we compromise. Instead, John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

While unity with the world is not attainable, unity among Christians is not only possible, but expected by God. Paul admonished the brethren in Corinth, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Each of us must consider it our personal and individual responsibility to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). What a sad state it is if peace is not found between brethren. The one who is responsible for division, rancor or strife will give an account to God for his sin. May we all have the spirit of Abraham, who told his nephew, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren” (Genesis 13:8).

There are numerous obstacles to unity between brethren. These need to be identified and avoided. Among them…

  • Selfishness. (cf. Philippians 2:5-8). A headstrong person, who is interested only in his own will and desires, is destructive to the body of Christ. When we fail to consider and promote the interests of others above our own, we have departed from the spirit that characterized our Lord, and His purpose in coming to this earth.
  • Speculative and Hobbyistic Teaching. (cf. Titus 2:7; 3:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Peter 1:16-2:2). A teacher of God’s people should have one and only one agenda, to further the cause of Christ. Those who have a hobby in their teaching lack proper breadth and depth in their efforts. As such, those who sit at their feet are spiritually malnourished, and vulnerable to error. The speculative teacher brings questions rather than producing and strengthening faith. Teachers should take seriously their charge, and note James’ warning, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
  • Uncontrolled Tongues (cf. James 3:5-12). The way a divisive man sows his destructive seed is with the tongue. Gossip, grumbling and murmuring, deceitful flattery, and even mindless prattle is destructive to unity. If we are to maintain unity, we must remember that the tongue is “a fire, a world of iniquity” (vs. 6), and take the needed precautions to avoid sinning with our words.
  • Peevishness (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:5). Provocations are inevitable, and the easily provoked will always struggle to be at peace with his brethren. Love shows a better way.

In contrast to such obstacles, there are numerous tools the Christian can access to promote unity with his brethren. Among them…

  • Generosity and Self-Sacrifice (cf. Philippians 2:5-8; Romans 12:3-5; 16:19). The opposite of selfishness, a willingness to put the interests of others before your own is a sure way to promote unity. The wonderful thing about such selflessness is that it tends to spread to others.
  • Unity in Faith and Teaching (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10). This is not optional. We are to teach only the oracles of God. It is God’s truth that sets us free (cf. John 8:32).
  • Promote Peace with All Men (cf. Romans 12:18-21). As noted before, peace is not always possible. It is possible, however, to always pursue peace. If division occurs, let it not be said that you are a cause or a contributor to the sin.
  • Genuine Love for the Lord and His Church. The body of Christ is precious. Christ is its head, and all are to show a care for Him and one another, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Our deep love for the church should bring forth a fierce defense against any attempts to divide her.

Paul wrote that we are to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). The word “endeavor” necessitates persistent effort on the part of all Christians. That means you and me!

(Note: Inspiration and material for this article was taken from Roy E. Cogdill’s The New Testament Church, Lesson 27, pages 65-66).