By Raymond Harville
Agreement in doctrine does not guarantee unity. There have been many churches that divided, when in the conclusion both groups believed and taught the same thing. However, each refused the other. Division often comes as a result of differences in personalities. There are misunderstandings. These create feelings within us, and we must fight for a “cause” that is “right” to “us.” Every person’s “cause” is right to him. Sometimes discipline is needed under these circumstances because we become factious.
To be worthy of our vocation as a Christian, we are to walk with all “lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – With these characteristics of life demonstrated, our lives “become ” (are suited to) the gospel. Those who manifest these traits are the ones for whom the gospel was intended. It is revealed unto babes (Matt. 11:25). These are “unsophisticated in mind and trustful in disposition.” It is possible for Christians to become blinded to the truth. Christians are not to allow the fleshly feelings (either of attitude or lustful practice) to control them. Therefore, endeavouring (make haste, be diligent) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. However, not everyone will try. The unity of the body is far more important to the body than are the ones who do not try to keep the unity of the Spirit.
Where there are seeds of division, efforts need to be put forth to kill them. “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2). “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8). Paul beseeched the Christians at Corinth to “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). ” be of one mind, live in peace . . .” (2 Cor 13: 11). “Be ye of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Rom. 12:16). “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5, 6). These admonitions are needed now as much as they were then.
Sometimes admonitions are not enough. “Now I beseech you, brethren, Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). If such action is not taken, greater problems will arise, and more souls will become involved. Jesus, the personification of lowliness, meekness, kindness, and longsuffering, could, without violating these traits, make a whip and drive certain ones out of the temple (John 2:15).
One can be meek, lowly, and longsuffering and still contend earnestly for the faith. Paul could call Bar-Jesus a child of the devil (Acts 13: 10), and say Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world (2 Tim. 4: 10). One can say that the word of Hymeneus and Philetus will eat as a canker; point out that they have erred concerning the truth, and still be given to meekness, lowliness and longsuffering. Sin must be pointed out and opposed lest the innocent become contaminated and the elders are condemned because of neglecting to care for the flock. Preachers must speak boldly.
It is not always easy to manifest the spirit of lowliness, meekness and longsuffering while opposing sin and error. One could easily overlook these traits in his zeal for righteousness. Truth and righteousness come before unity, but lowliness and meekness are to be learned when truth first begins to enter the heart. These are foundation traits that help us learn truth, follow righteousness, and practice peace and unity.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 31, pp.6-7
June 7, 1973