7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
We can build on this foundation by adding brotherly kindness, being kindly affectioned toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. Doing kind things for your brothers and sisters in Christ and, indeed, to all men and women, is a fundamental standard of Christ for His followers.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Of course, it is hard to be kind if someone keeps hurting you over and over again. It is difficult to express this kindness when there is a control freak or an abuser working in the congregation so it is good to confront those persons and, if they will not repent of their wickedness, require that they leave. Certainly don’t place them in positions of authority over others.
Since this is an issue for many congregations let me say that some people with control issues are simply fearful, not having a strong faith in Christ or willing to accept His will. They will overplay every bad experience that happens to them, imagine great conspiracies in every event, and sincerely believe that they have all the answers to life and that it is important to impose those answers on everyone else, for their own sake. These folks, with a twinge of narcissism and a dose of paranoia, are to be pitied, certainly. They are miserable, indeed. But, they should not be placed in positions of authority where they can drive people from the assembly. Keeping them from a position where they can do great damage is the job of the modern pastor in a fundamentalist congregation.
Back to the text, though, we are to be kind to each other, as Paul defined in Ephesians, chapter 4. God is even kind to the unthankful and to the evil.
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
As we are called to be;
Colossians 3:12 ¶ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Charity is the highest expression of what God wants from us. Charity is the unfeigned love of your brothers and sisters in Christ and is, perhaps, the most difficult of this list to fake. As the passage in Colossians 3 goes on to say;
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
This love of your brothers and sisters in Christ was specifically commanded by Christ.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Paul gives it an entire chapter it is so important. It is clear by And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor in verse 3 in the following that charity is not defined here as we do today.
1Corinthians 13:1 ¶ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 ¶ Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 ¶ Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Sometimes, with other things being hard to bear, the only reason a Christian stays in the church in which they are serving is because they love the people there. Building a church where people genuinely love each other, like unit cohesion in the military, is essential. Studies of soldiers who have risked their lives to do heroic things have shown that in combat, soldiers don’t die for your freedom, for God, the flag, country, or Mom’s apple pie. They give their lives for the other soldiers in their unit. A church should revolve around its mission of loving, worshipping, and serving Christ but it will not stay together unless the congregation loves each other.
Building trust, love, and bonds of friendship and fellowship in a church body is fundamental to growing a church. In a church where people’s efforts are not appreciated, where they are belittled, suspected, ridiculed, or controlled there will be no growth or depth of doctrine or understanding.
Charity or love of the brethren is the highest standard that God sets for His church to act as a community of believers. Do you feel judged by others in your church, disrespected, or that some view themselves as more spiritual, wiser, or simply better Christians than you are? Then, there is a sickness, a wound in the body of Christ. Perhaps you need to find somewhere else to serve? Or better yet, pray for your church. Pray for God’s mercy and blessing to strengthen it and change the heart of any offender, who may even be hurt and wounded themselves.