Sensitivity and the Brethren

By Rodney Pitts

Sensitivity is a very good trait to develop because it is needed in order to help others with their problems. A person who is insensitive to those around him is a difficult person to live with and adds very little to the good of those who must associate with him. But, too much sensitivity, especially when it concerns one’s own problems, can be a very serious flaw in one’s character. Such sensitivity will hurt the growth of a Christian and will usually gender strife and stagnation within the local church.

The reason this is true is that too much personal sensitivity (often times centered in pride) undermines the very nature of Christianity and the church. As Christians we should always be seeking to grow in our understanding and living of the life which is revealed for us within the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:18). No Christian, no matter who he is, will ever reach a point of growth which is beyond correction from his brethren and the Word. Even the apostle Paul stated that he had not reached such a point, but was “press(ing) toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:12-14).

As brethren, we are to attend to the problems and weakness of one another in order to assure that all will be judged worthy of heaven when the Lord returns. Paul has stated it this way: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). Yet, this is too often interpreted in our own minds to mean that we should be able to explain to our brethren what their problems are, while forgetting that this places the same responsibility upon them concerning our problems. Thus, Christians become like the mother who tells the child how much he needs the horrible tasting cough medicine, while at the same time being unwilling to take the same medicine to help her cough. We used to described this attitude as “being able to dish it out, but not being able to take it!” Such is not what God desires (see Phil. 2:3).

Solomon had a very good point when he stated that “reproof is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool” (Prov. 17:10). I believe that if more Christians would seek to be “wise” in their service to him, there would be a lot more growing and a lot less people coming to “blows” in the church (Eph. 5:15-16). An attitude of humility, wisdom, and love for one another goes a long way toward the solving of problems and the growth of the church. Thus, let us work to be just as ready and willing to take constructive criticism which is offered in a kind and loving way as we are to offer it to others.

One final point that should be mentioned. Christians need to learn to always take loving correction given to them by their brethren in the best possible light. Too often we are suspicious of one another when, in all truthfulness, we should trust our brethren more than anyone else. Why? Because they are our brethren! As members of Christ’s body, we should all seek to do what is best for one another in love (1 Jn. 2:9-11; 3:16-18). If we love each other as we should, we are not going to intentionally hurt one another. Thus, correction centered in love should provoke a deeper relationship between brethren, as well as greater devotion to and understanding of the will of God for our lives.

With these thoughts in mind, we should all be more willing to give others the “benefit of the doubt” when it comes to judging their motives for what they do and say to us. If we will seek to be more sensitive toward the feelings and problems of others and less sensitive about our own, we will grow faster and be ever more pleasing in our service to God.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 4, p. 101
February 21, 1991