By Hoyt H. Houchen
Question: Why do brethren sometimes have such a hard time getting along with one another?
Reply: At the root of dissension is the devil. We must always be aware that he is around and active (1 Pet. 5:8). He is pleased when he can divide brethren. He is very pleased if he can cause brethren to fuss, feud and fight because that weakens the church. The devil is opposed to Christ and there is nothing he had rather do than destroy His church. Continued bickering and strife will soon destroy the church in any community. Paul warned the Galatian brethren, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:15). Biting denotes the wounding effect of wranglings and continuous devouring depicts destruction. This is certainly incompatible with love. The Hebrew writer urged his readers, “Let love of the brethren continued” (Heb. 13:1). Hate engenders strife and division; love engenders peace and harmony. The devil wants the former; God wants the latter.
Selfishness is a major reason for brethren not getting along with one another. Usually, trouble results because somebody wants to have his own way about something. He is not willing to abide by the wishes of others in matters of judgment. We have enough worldly forces and religious error to combat, without fighting among ourselves. There is a small church in Colorado which only recently has suffered its third split. What must the community think when it witnesses such conduct among those who call themselves Christians? Such situations are deplorable.
When brethren truly love one another and manifest a spirit of humility they will be able to get along with one another. Unity will prevail. Jesus said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another” (Jn. 13:34,35).
To show that selfishness is a source of dissension, James asked his readers: “Whence come wars and whence came fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jas. 4:1,2). Wars and fightings among men come from their pleasures, the desire to have their lusts gratified. Their lust is often for power. They want to rule and have their say. Their lust is for a place of prominence and influence. They covet what others have. These are the basic causes of fighting. This is not only true of men in the world, but sadly it is true of some in the church. Clashes among brethren will cease only when self is sacrificed in the interest of others. Prayer is often amiss, and thus not granted. Too often men do not pray for what is best but for what they want in order to satisfy their own selfish desires and interests. Prayers should be constantly offered in behalf of others in the interest of good will and harmony. Brethren should never forget to pray. One commentator made the statement, “there are not only unanswered prayers, there are also unasked prayers!” There is power in prayer. James wrote, “The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working” (Jas. 5:16).
If brethren are to get long with each other, they must make an effort to do so. When brethren manifest love, a spirit of humility and work in the interest of peace, they can get along and the devil will not have his way.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 24, p. 741
December 18, 1986