6. Guarding the Others’ Reputation

By John Thiel. Study 6 – Unity in Christ Conference 2013, Audio: mp3

Are we learning the lessons of unity in Christ? We have a wonderful Saviour, we have a wonderful appreciation of His salvation for us, but are we learning the lessons of unity in Christ with one another? Doesn’t every human being want to feel good about his reputation? This is a very important subject in regards to sustaining each other’s unity.

Hebrews 3:1-2 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses [was faithful] in all his house.

Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. He was faithful to Him that appointed Him. What was Jesus appointed to? Consider that.

Isaiah 61:1-3 The spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

He was faithful unto Him that appointed Him. The word appointed is synonymous and in parallel with anointed. He anointed Him for a purpose and Jesus was faithful to that. What was the purpose, what was He anointed to? He anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound; that those who mourn should be comforted and those who sit in ashes be replaced with beauty, and those who are deeply heavy in spirit, that this spirit of heaviness might be replaced with the garment of praise. That is what He was appointed to.

Why are the people in such a position? Why are they brokenhearted? Why are they bound? Why are they captives? Why do they mourn? Why do they sit in ashes and are heavy in spirit? He was appointed to relieve all that, but why were they there in the first place?

Psalms
107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. 10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, [being] bound in affliction and iron;

Why are they bound? Why are they hungry? Why are they longing?

Psalms 107:11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help. 13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, [and] he saved them out of their distresses.14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.

Why are they in that situation? Why are they mourning, why are they crying out help? It is because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High. They ridiculed that and went astray, he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and [there was] none to help. This was the consequence of their own rebellious mentality. Then they cried unto the Lord. What did the Lord do? Did He say you are a lot of rebels? It’s your fault. Why did you do that? You are in the darkness which you created yourself. Not at all. They cried unto the Lord in their trouble that they brought upon themselves and He saved them out of their distresses. Ponder deeply, understand this.

Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. 16 But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. 17 One thousand [shall flee] at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.

It’s a beautiful gift of God’s peace but they said, no we don’t want that, we want to get it ourselves. We want to achieve the victory with our own horses, in our own fabrications. He says, you go ahead, and as you flee upon horses therefore you will flee for your life. You will ride on the swift and those that pursue you will be swift. He paints a beautiful picture here of a people who want to save themselves and their trouble gets worse and worse. It is difficult and we can’t find our way out of it until finally we become as a beacon on a hill, a display of utter failure.

Psalms 30:18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you,

The rebellious mentality of self is perfectly described here and the Lord says, go, I will wait. I will let you get on with what you are doing. I will wait so that I can be gracious unto you.

Psalms 30:18 …and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD [is] a God of judgment: blessed [are] all they that wait for him. 19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. 20 And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

We often quote those two verses on their own, but can you see the setting in which they are given? We often quote verse 15 on its own, but can you see the setting in which it is given? It is given upon a people who He was trying to help and they said no we don’t want your help. Then He says, alright go and enjoy yourself if you can. I will just quietly wait and when you are a beacon on a hill, when you are crying to me for mercy, then I will show you that I am gracious. Don’t you love the Lord? Isn’t He wonderful?

Our Reputation

We are here to understand our reputation. What does that reveal regarding our reputation? What reputation do we have according to our natures? Is there any good reputation here? The Apostle Paul expresses it very well, O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me? I have brought all this wretchedness upon myself; I don’t even deserve any help. Who can deliver me? It is impossible. He said afterwards, I am the chief of sinners. To us in God’s church of Laodicea, what is the reputation?

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

You don’t even know your reputation in my view. Your reputation is like the words of Apostle Paul in Philippians 3. You believe your reputation is good.

Philippians 3:4-6 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews;as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

What a reputation. This is the sense of reputation which Apostle Paul had before he became an apostle. This is the Laodicean sense of reputation. You knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: This is your true reputation. What a reputation! What does the true witness propose? In line with what we have just been reading before. I have waited, I have seen you going that way, I will just wait and when you come to your senses and you know exactly what your reputation is, you will cry, and as you cry here is the proposal:

Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

What is He proposing in so many words? I propose to you that I want to restore your reputation. Your nakedness is going to be covered. Your blindness and wretchedness is going to be taken care of. Buy of me. Buy gold tried in the fire, buy of me. What is meant by that?

David

Isaiah 55:1-3 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for [that which is] not bread? and your labour for [that which] satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye [that which is] good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

Here he opens up to our view David. Did he get himself into trouble? He the beautiful youth that slew Goliath, he that had a wonderful walk with God, did he do some grievous sins? Did he suffer the consequences of them? Here Jesus is saying to those who by their own wrong ways went horribly astray. He just waited so that He could show them mercy.

He proposes to the Laodiceans, to us, look where you are. Do you recognise? No you don’t. But when you get into trouble and you have difficulties in the church, you have lack of unity and you are craving for unity in church and in marriage, and you know that you have gone so wrong, the Lord says I love you. The Lord says I want to restore you. You are bound by iron, you can’t even change. You know what you should be doing and you can’t, can you? You discover the bonds of iron that won’t let you change.

What is the covenant; the sure mercies of David? What is the covenant ratified by that makes the covenant effective that He wants to make with us?

Zechariah 9:9-12 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion [shall be] from sea [even] to sea, and from the river [even] to the ends of the earth. As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein [is] no water. Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee;

Those who have been fleeing on horseback in symbolic terms, I will cut off the chariot, the people who are chasing you. You saw it in the experience of the Hebrews fleeing from Pharaoh; it is a perfect example of this. We have wanted to flee in our own way on our own horses and He comes along and says, you are going to be swiftly followed. You will be full of fear, you will be in agony and anxiety, but I am going to do something. My covenant with you is that the blood of the covenant will be that which is going to release you from prison and iron bindings of that which we have done. It has bound us because it has become part of our genetic makeup. It is so much part of me, I can’t change it. The Lord will break the bonds of that.

The sinners whose reputation He came to exalt that He proposes to uphold, the reputation that is absolute dung, He came to restore. Isn’t that what Apostle Paul described in Philippians? How did he regard his reputation when he came to the realisation of what we are reading? He said it is dung. Is that what you can recognise about your own reputation? My reputation is dung. You can hear people talking about me. What is yours? He came to exalt us to a high reputation. How did He do that?

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 …we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

How does He propose to restore our reputation? We who are all sin whose reputation is dung, Jesus was made to be that so that we might in turn be made the reputation of Jesus Christ of the righteousness of God. This is a study in the lesson of unity with one another, guarding each other’s reputation. Jesus took your and my reputation and offers to give us His. What did that mean to Him?

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

What was His mind?

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

In other words, nothing to grasp onto.

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

He took our sin and He became sin so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. In terms of our reputation in relation to our fellow brothers and sisters, let this mind be in you. Are you picking the lesson up? Jesus laid down His reputation for the sake of lifting up yours.

Let this mind be in you. The atonement of Christ with us is the source of our atonement with one another. We want to have unity. Is that easy? How successful have we been? Can you look back at all those dysfunctional experiences from the past? Have we succeeded to have perfect unity? Why not? It is because we haven’t grasped the atonement of Jesus Christ completely. If we would, we would have exactly the same mind as Jesus had to us laying down my reputation so that I can restore and honour the reputation of my brother and my sister. From this source comes the admonition. When we read this counsel now without the understanding of what I have just shared with you, you will take it and say, I have to do that. You see it now from a different perspective. Here is the counsel.

Philippians 2:1-3 If [there be] therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind. Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

We get the meaning of this now. ‘Better than themselves’ is epitomised in Christ who had the loftiest position in reputation in the universe, regarded the dirty, dungy sinner as better than Himself. Have you got it? If there is any consolation in Christ, if there is any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercy, if you can see all that, fulfill ye my joy that you be likeminded, that you would indeed let nothing of strife or vainglory interfere in your fellowship with one another, but in lowliness of mind we esteem the other better than ourselves. Jesus is the representation of that.

Romans 12:10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Isn’t that what Jesus did? He preferred us in honour. He dishonoured His own reputation. Here is the lesson. Are we discerning it? Do you see your brother or your sister with their faults? Do you think in your mind, look at that? Do you think in your mind, I wish they would hurry up and learn? Do you think it in your mind, (not what you are saying), are you noting all those strange behaviours with each other, among each other? Are you thinking when will they ever change? When I was brought up, children would not get away with that. I brought my children up much better than that, listen to those children. This is what is going on in the mind, am I right? What is the mind of Christ? There is a brother or a sister who has fallen into sin.

I have seen the great sacrifice which Jesus made to redeem man. He did not consider His own life too dear to sacrifice. Said Jesus: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Do you feel, when a brother errs, that you could give your life to save him? If you feel thus, you can approach him and affect his heart; you are just the one to visit that brother. {1T 166.2}

If you were prepared to lay down your reputation for him like Jesus did; that is the person that can go to talk to another person who is erring, no one else. How many times have we gone to talk with somebody and we have given the atmosphere of you shouldn’t be doing that, you know better don’t you? The atmosphere and what goes on in my mind when I see somebody doing something wrong, not the words. If I have the mind of Christ, remember the picture we read before? It has been your own fault that you have got yourself into this plight but I am waiting quietly so that Jesus can come and make Himself of no reputation to lift you out of that. Doesn’t that blow your brain? It is only those who understand that who can come to help another soul. Will you ever venture to talk to another soul unless you have that? Who errs around you? You are the brother when you feel that you can give your life to save him. If you feel thus, you can approach him and affect his heart; you are just the one to visit that brother.

But it is a lamentable fact that many who profess to be brethren, are not willing to sacrifice any of their opinions or their judgment to save a brother. Ibid

My own thoughts, my own opinions are getting in the way to really affect a brother to true repentance and submission.

There is but little love for one another. A selfish spirit is manifested. Ibid

You may not say it in words, but it is in the spirit. When the spirit is subdued by the representation of the picture that we have just seen, it is a different situation all together.

The mind of Christ needs to be in us. When I see erring brothers and sisters around me, what was Christ’s example to restore their reputation? How did Jesus manifest this? Watch Him in action. When we think there is sin in the camp, there is something going on underneath and we think we have to deal with the sin in the camp. Remember Achan. What did Jesus do regarding Judas?

Jesus in Action

Jesus alone could read his secret. Yet He did not expose him. {DA 645.1}

Could He have exposed him and really given the disciples a torn down reputation? They held Judas in a high reputation. He was the best among them in their eyes. Jesus did not expose him.

Jesus hungered for his soul. He felt for him such a burden as for Jerusalem when He wept over the doomed city. His heart was crying, How can I give thee up? The constraining power of that love was felt by Judas. Ibid

Judas felt the power of that atmosphere.

When the Saviour’s hands were bathing those soiled feet, and wiping them with the towel, the heart of Judas thrilled through and through with the impulse then and there to confess his sin. Ibid

This is how we deal with an erring brother. This is how we deal with erring brethren and sisters. What they do with that is their choice. Judas would not humble himself even though Jesus gave him all that powerful influence. When people finally leave the church it is not because Jesus shut them out, it is because they would not respond to that wonderful love. That is Jesus in action. Follow Christ’s example; restore the reputation of someone who is erring.

Here is a special direction to deal tenderly with those overtaken in a fault. “Overtaken” must have its full significance…. To be led into sin unawares–not intending to sin, but to sin through want of watchfulness and prayer, not discerning the temptation of Satan and so falling into his snare–is very different from the one who plans and deliberately enters into temptation and plans out a course of sin…. {OHC 177.2}

Did King David deliberately come out on the roof because he wanted to see a naked woman? He did not, but he saw her and he was trapped by the wrong thinking of the monarchs of that day by Satan’s suggestion. That went from cause to effect. This is different to the one who deliberately took the Babylonish garment and planned and held that Babylonish garment secretly with the gold against God’s direct instruction.

Achan was a different case to David. Judas was also deliberately doing things but he was also misguided. Jesus didn’t even want to give up on him and neither did He want to give up on Achan. It was just that Achan kept on doggedly like Judas and eventually Judas hung himself. That is the way Jesus does it in modern times. You let them hang themselves but you keep on drawing them by love. In the Old Testament Achan was stoned.

More effective measures are needed to check the premeditated sin, but the apostle directs the treatment to be given to those who are overtaken or surprised or overcome by temptation…. Restore him in meekness, “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Faith and reproofs will be needed, and kindly counsel and supplications to God, to bring them to see their danger and sin. The original word is, set in joint, as a dislocated bone; therefore the efforts should be made to set them in joint, and bring them to themselves by convincing them of their sin and error. . . . There should be no triumphing in a brother’s fall. But in meekness, in the fear of God, in love for their soul’s sake, seek to save them from sin. {OHC 177.3}

This is the source of unity; to bring them to see their situation. Not for me to come and say, you have done such and such, come on now. No; you don’t have to say those words but that is the atmosphere. Jesus does not do that. He works in such a way that the person will come to you themselves and say, I have done this, is there any hope for me? There is.

As we work in the way that Jesus has portrayed to us, there is a long process of doing it this way. Some people get very impatient. This person is erring and he is still erring, why don’t you do something? Some people have said this to me. There is sin in the camp, do something. It is happening, don’t worry. The process takes time. Although some people see erring they don’t see the other bits. The servant of God sees more than the rest of the members and if he is under the guidance of God, he does nothing which is going to cause the dislocated joint to be segregated altogether. He will labour and work as Jesus worked.

While we seek to correct the errors of a brother, the Spirit of Christ will lead us to shield him, as far as possible, from the criticism of even his own brethren, and how much more from the censure of the unbelieving world. We ourselves are erring, and need Christ’s pity and forgiveness, and just as we wish Him to deal with us, He bids us deal with one another. {DA 441.4}

As we see a serious problem in another brother and somebody goes to him who is prepared to die for him, what will he do? He will guard the brother’s reputation. He will try to keep that reputation in the eyes of his fellow brothers and sisters up while there is a serious sin going on underneath. Does that sound right? It doesn’t sound right to legalism, but this is Jesus. He is not legalistic; He is a wonderful, wonderful Saviour. If we are close to the heart of Jesus, we will safeguard each other’s reputation; we will try to keep it very elevated.

If sin is plain in a brother, breathe it not to another, {1T 165.1}

It doesn’t say, say it not to another, it says breathe it not to another. What does that mean? It is the atmosphere.

…but with love for the brother’s soul, with a heart full of compassion, with bowels of mercy, tell him the wrong, then leave the matter with him and the Lord. You have discharged your duty. You are not to pass sentence. Ibid

Is this totally different to what we are used to? Yes. We have looked at these things from a legalistic viewpoint. We are looking at them now through the eyes and example of Jesus Christ. We have some exemplary testimonies.

James 5:19-20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Are you supposed to hide the sins? It says so. If we can convert the soul then you cover those sins over so that they will never come forth as something to condemn that person and bring his reputation down. We convert the person in the way that we have just been meditating by this careful loving way of the mind of Jesus, and then there will be a hiding of sins. Nobody else will ever know those sins.

Frequently there is necessity for plainly rebuking sin and reproving wrong. But ministers who are working for the salvation of their fellow men should not be pitiless toward the errors of one another, nor make prominent the defects in their organizations. They should not expose or reprove their weaknesses. They should inquire if such a course, pursued by another toward themselves, would bring about the desired effect; {3T 93.3}

What is the desired effect? It is that the soul should be restored.

…would it increase their love for, and confidence in, the one who thus made prominent their mistakes? Especially should the mistakes of ministers who are engaged in the work of God be kept within as small a circle as possible, for there are many weak ones who will take advantage if they are aware that those who minister in word and doctrine have weaknesses like other men. And it is a most cruel thing for the faults of a minister to be exposed to unbelievers, if that minister is counted worthy to labor in the future for the salvation of souls. No good can come of this exposure, but only harm. The Lord frowns upon this course, for it is undermining the confidence of the people in those whom He accepts to carry forward His work. The character of every fellow laborer should be jealously guarded by brother ministers. Saith God: “Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm.” Love and confidence should be cherished. A lack of this love and confidence in one minister for another does not increase the happiness of the one thus deficient, but as he makes his brother unhappy he is unhappy himself. There is greater power in love than was ever found in censure. Love will melt its way through barriers, while censure will close up every avenue of the soul. Ibid

There we have the picture of guarding each other’s reputation. Cover a multitude of sins; keep anything that is known in the smallest circle as possible. If it is just between two people that is just between God and those two and that is all. If another one comes into the picture, that is all. Don’t whisper or breathe it to another. All too often it goes on and wider and wider then all of a sudden everyone is saying, oh. This ruins unity.

Charity “doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” The heart in which love rules will not be filled with passion or revenge, by injuries which pride and self-love would deem unbearable. {5T 168.4}

In the church we injure each other sometimes.

Love is unsuspecting, ever placing the most favorable construction upon the motives and acts of others. Ibid

As you see a person acting strangely and things going funny there, then love clicks into place and puts the most favourable construction upon that. This is worthwhile to discuss to find out how to do that. Very briefly, if a person is ratty, becoming very irritated and frustrated in front of you, you might think what an un-Christlike person that is. Put the best construction on it. That precious soul has so much on their plate they are having such a hard time and they can’t express themselves in a smooth way because it’s overloading them. That is the best construction. You can do that with every other thing. God will help you.

Love will never needlessly expose the faults of others. It does not listen eagerly to unfavorable reports, but rather seeks to bring to mind some good qualities of the one defamed. Ibid

What do you do? I know we have done it. We hear such and such and then we talk to someone, did you know such and such? Unfavourable reports. Love does not listen. When you hear an unfavourable report, do you say, really? Or do you close your mind to it. If somebody whispers an unfavourable report, it seeks to bring to mind some good qualities of the one defamed. That’s love, it brings unity.

God’s servants are to work together, blending in kindly, courteous order, “in honor preferring one another.” Romans 12:10. There is to be no unkind criticism, no pulling to pieces of another’s work; and there are to be no separate parties. Every man to whom the Lord has entrusted a message has his specific work. Each one has an individuality of his own, which he is not to sink in that of any other man. Yet is to work in harmony with his brethren. In their service God’s workers are to be essentially one. No one is to set himself up as a criterion, speaking disrespectfully of his fellow workers or treating them as inferior. Under God each is to do his appointed work, respected, loved, and encouraged by the other laborers. Together they are to carry the work forward to completion. {AA 275.2}

As labourers together we are to encourage each other. You mustn’t flatter. What is flattery and what is encouragement? Jesus can help us to know what the difference is. To go to a brother and say, I really enjoyed that, thank you so much. That is not flattery. To go and shake a brother by the hand and say, thank you for that; that was beautiful for me. That is not flattery. Flattery is when you say, wow, you really did that well.  Just encourage him that we appreciated the labour that has been put upon us and don’t pick the sermon to pieces, the delivery and the manner of certain people. Sr White writes much about that.

Ministers have different ways. A T Jones was a bit slovenly and they used to make fun of him. He had soup on his tie and things like that. They used to ridicule him and yet he gave them a message of beautiful truth. He was a little bit sharp and they used to make fun of that. This is all un-Christlike, it is uncharitable. Just concentrate on Jesus.

We should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live, not to guard our feelings or our reputation, but to save souls. . {MH 485.2}

We are there to guard and bless the reputation of others. That is what Jesus did. When my feelings are hurt by something that has been said and done, my reputation, my esteem of myself is shattered, it is alright; Jesus’ esteem was all shattered too. That is good.

As we become interested in the salvation of souls we cease to mind the little differences that so often arise in our association with one another. Whatever others may think of us or do to us, it need not disturb our oneness with Christ, the fellowship of the Spirit. “What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” 1 Peter 2:20. Ibid

These are precious counsels in the theme of guarding each other’s reputation.

Brethren sometimes associate together for years, and they think they can trust those they know so well just as they would trust members of their own family. There is a freedom and confidence in this association which could not exist between those not of the same faith. This is very pleasant while mutual faith and brotherly love last; but let the “accuser of the brethren” gain admittance to the heart of one of these men, controlling the mind and the imagination, and jealousies are created, suspicion and envy are harbored; and he who supposed himself secure in the love and friendship of his brother, finds himself mistrusted and his motives misjudged. The false brother forgets his own human frailties, forgets his obligation to think and speak no evil lest he dishonor God and wound Christ in the person of His saints, and every defect that can be thought of or imagined is commented upon unmercifully, and the character of a brother is represented as dark and questionable. {3BC 1162.6}

Do we want to have unity? Do we want to have this precious trust between each other? Do we want to have the fulfilment of the prayer of Christ? If we want that, here are the counsels to sustain it. A precious sense of unity will pervade our fellowship as we practice these counsels in the light of our appreciation of Christ’s reputation being laid down for mine. This is the motive force for me to practice the counsels. If I just look at the counsels on their own without that picture of Jesus and God’s amazing mentality to us; we will still keep on falling because Jesus reveals this by His atonement. He then says so beautifully that they may be one. I in them and thou in me that they may be made perfect in one. We see this now more and more clearly. His uplifting of our reputation by relinquishing His own reputation is the blueprint of our unity among us.

Let each one who claims to follow Christ esteem himself less and others more. Press together, press together! In union there is strength and victory; in discord and division there is weakness and defeat. These words have been spoken to me from heaven. As God’s ambassador I speak them to you. {5T 488.2}

Let everyone seek to answer the prayer of Christ: “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee.” Oh, what unity is this! and says Christ: “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” {5T 488.3}

Amen.

Posted on August 30, 2013, in Learning the Lessons of Unity in Christ, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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