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Unity among brethren in Christ

1. Unity or disunity?

A. The Lord wants us to have unity:

Psa.133:1 - How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity
1Cor.1:10 - I beseech you...that there be no divisions among you, but...be perfectly joined together in the same mind
2Cor.13:11 - Be ye of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you
Phi.1:27 - Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together

B. What He thinks of dis unity:

Pro.6:16,19 - These...doth the Lord hate: (they) are an abomination unto Him: he that soweth discord among brethren
Jam.3:14,15 - But if ye have...strife in your hearts, glory not....This descendeth not from above, but is devilish

2. How to work at keeping united:

Eph.4:3 - Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit

A. Have the Word as a unifying standard:

1Cor.14:37 - Let him acknowledge that the things I write are the commandments of the Lord
Phi.3:16 - Let us walk by the same rule...mind the same thing
1Thes.2:13,14 - Ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye...became followers

B. Be agreeable and likeminded:

Rom.15:5,6 - God...grant you to be likeminded one toward another... that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God
Rom.12:16 - Be of the same mind one toward another...condescend to men of low estate
1Cor.1:10 - I beseech you...that ye all speak the same thing
Phi.2:2 - Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind
(See also Acts 2:46; Phi.4:2.)

C. Be at peace with fellow-workers:

Rom.14:19 - Let us follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another
Col.3:15 - Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which ye are called in one body
1Thes.5:13 - Be at peace among yourselves

D. Have love and concern for one another:

Pro.10:12 - Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins
Rom.12:10 - Be kindly affectioned with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (See also 1Thes.2:7,8)
1Cor.12:25,26 - There should be no schism in the body; but the members should have the same care one for another
Eph.4:16 - The whole body fitly joined together...maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love

E. Be kind, gentle and courteous to one another:

Eph.4:32 - Be ye kind...tenderhearted, forgiving one another
2Tim.2:24 - Not strive...be gentle unto all men, patient
1Pet.3:8 - Be ye all of one mind, having compassion...love as brethren, be pitiful (sympathetic), be courteous
1Cor.11:33 - When ye come together to eat, tarry one for another
(See also Pro.18:24)

F. Take people where they're at:

Rom.14:1 - Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations (See also Rom.14:2-21)

G. Avoid offending people:

1Cor.10:32,33 - Give none offence, neither...to the church of God.... I please all men in all things
Pro.18:19 - Brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city

H. Be careful what you say:

Pro.17:9b - He that repeateth a matter separateth very friends
2Tim.2:23 - Foolish questions avoid...they do gender strifes
Tit.3:2 - Speak evil of no man...gentle...meekness unto all men
(See also Jam.3:16,17; Eccl.5:2.)

I. Control your temper; be slow to speak:

Pro.14:29 - He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding
Pro.15:1 - A soft answer turneth away wrath
Pro.15:18 - He that is slow to anger appeaseth strife
Pro.25:8 - Go not forth hastily to strive [with thy neighbour]
Phi.2:3 - Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory
Jam.1:19 - Let every man be...slow to speak, slow to wrath
(See also Pro.3:30; 26:17.)

J. Humbly discuss disagreements with elders:

1Tim.5:1 - Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father

K. Sort out "oughts" before doing anything else:

Mat.5:23,24 - First be reconciled to thy brother, then...offer gift
Mk.11:25 - When...praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any
Jam.5:9 - Grudge not one against another, lest ye be condemned

L. Avoid being partial or playing favourites:

1Tim.5:21 - (Not) preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality (See also Jam.3:17)
Jam.2:1 - Have not the faith of Jesus...with respect of persons

M. Value peace above selfish interests:

Rom.14:19-21 - Let us follow after the things which make for peace
Rom.12:18 - As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men
(See also 1Cor.6:7; Phi.2:4.)

N. Share unselfishly with others:

Acts 4:32 - And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul...they had all things common
(See also 1Cor.10:33; 2Cor.8:9.)

O. Return good for evil:

Mat.5:44 - Love your enemies, bless them that curse you
Rom.12:21 - Overcome evil with good
1Thes.5:15 - See that none render evil for evil...among yourselves

P. Retaliation forbidden:

(See Lev.19:18; Pro.20:22; 24:29; Rom.12:17,19; 1Pet.3:9.)

3. The fruits of unity:

A. Working together for a common goal:

2Ki.10:15 - Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thine heart? If it be, give me thine hand
Amos 3:3 - Can two walk [or work] together, except they be agreed?
Mat.18:19,20 - Where two or three are gathered in My name (Jesus), there am I in the midst of them
Acts 2:14 - Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice
Phi.1:27 - With one mind, striving together for...the gospel

B. There is strength in unity:

Eccl.4:9,10 - Two are better than one...for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow
Eccl.4:12 - If one [a foe] prevail against him, two shall withstand [the foe], and a three-fold cord is not...broken
Judg.20:11 - The men [army] were gathered against the city, knit together as one man
1Sam.14:6,7 - Jonathan said, Let us go over. His armourbearer said, Behold, I am with thee according to thy heart
(See also Neh.4:16,17)

C. Good fruit of united outreach:

Acts 2:1,2,41 - [Believers] all with one accord in one place [were filled with the Spirit, witnessed, and 3,000 souls were saved]

4. Unity of believers in Jesus:

A. Jesus' prayer that we be united as one:

Jn.17:11,21 - That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us
Jn.17:22,23 - That they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one

B. We should be one body, working together unitedly:

Rom.12:5 - We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another
1Cor.12:12,13 - All the members of one body, being many, are one body (See also 1Cor.10:17)
1Cor.12:27 - Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular
Eph.2:22 - Ye are builded together...through the Spirit
(See also Eph.1:10; 2:19-21; 4:11,12; 1Cor.12:4-16.)
Col.1:17,18 - (Jesus) is head of our body (See also Eph.4:15,16)
(See also 1Cor.3:9; 2Cor.6:1.)

C. Jesus' Spirit gives us peace with one another:

1Cor.14:33 - God is the author...of peace, as in all the churches
2Cor.13:11 - Brethren...live in peace; God of peace shall be with you
Gal.5:22 - The fruit of the Spirit is...peace
Eph.2:14 - He is our peace...hath broken down the wall between
Col.2:2 - Your hearts comforted, being knit together in love

D. There should be no divisions because of race or sex:

1Cor.12:13 - Whether Jews or Gentiles...(we) have been all made to drink into one Spirit
Gal.3:26,28 - Neither Jew nor Greek...male or female: for ye are all one in Jesus

E. Or social or financial status:

1Cor.12:13 - Whether...bond or free, (we) all have been made...one
Gal.3:28 - Neither bond nor free...for ye are all one in Jesus

5. Causes of dis unity:

A. Pride and lust:

Pro.13:10 - Only by pride cometh contention
Pro.28:25 - He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife
Jam.4:1-3 - Whence come fightings among you? From your lusts

B. Not walking in the Spirit:

1Cor.3:3 - Ye are carnal: there is among you strife and divisions
Gal.5:19-21 - Works of the flesh: Hatred, wrath, strifes

C. Ill feelings and hatred:

Pro.10:12 - Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins
Pro.16:28 - A froward man soweth strife, and a whisperer separateth
Pro.26:24 - He that hateth dissembleth with his lips

D. Envy and jealousy:

Rom.13:13 - Let us walk honestly...not in...strife and envying
1Cor.13:4 - Love...envieth not; Love vaunteth not itself
Gal.5:26 - Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another
Jam.3:14,16 - If ye have bitter envying...in your hearts, glory not. For where envying...is, there is...every evil work
(See also Pro.14:30; 27:4; Gal.5:19-21; Tit.3:3.)

E. Favouritism and partiality:

Acts 6:1 - There arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected

F. Self-exaltation and desire for leadership:

Num.12:1-15 - [Miriam and Aaron rebel against Moses, desiring power]
Num.16:1-35 - [Korah rebels against Moses, desiring leadership]
Lk.22:24 - There was a strife among them, (who) should be greatest
Acts 20:30 - Of your own selves shall men arise...to draw away dis ciples after them
Gal.5:26 - Let us not desire vain glory, provoking...one another
3Jn.9-11 - Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them receiveth us not

G. Arguing over minor doctrines and theorising:

1Tim.6:3-5a - Knowing nothing, doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh...strife

H. Bitterness:

Heb.12:15 - Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled

I. Anger and a quick temper:

Pro.15:18 - A wrathful man stirreth up strife
Pro.29:22 - An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man

J. Repeating things we know we shouldn't:

Pro.17:9 - He that repeateth a matter separateth very friends
Pro.26:20 - Where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth (See also Jam.1:26)

K. Inability to stop arguing:

Pro.20:3 - It is an honour to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling
Pro.17:14 - The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water...leave off contention

6. What disunity results in:

A. Not being able to work together:

Amos 3:3 - Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Acts 15:36-40 - Contention so sharp [between Paul and Barnabus] that they departed asunder [and went separate ways]

B. It destroys God's work:

Mat.12:25 - Every house divided against itself...shall not stand
Mk.3:24 - If kingdom be divided against itself...cannot stand
(See also Num.32:1-7)

C. Longstanding divisions:

Pro.18:19 - A brother offended harder to be won than strong city

D. Creates sectarian divisions and man-worship:

1Cor.3:3,4 - There (are) divisions...For one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos
(See also 1Cor.11:18; 3:21-23.)

E. Backbiting and rumours:

Pro.16:28 - A whisperer separateth chief friends
2Cor.12:20 - I fear...lest there be backbitings, whisperings

F. Opens the door to every kind of evil:

Jam.3:16 - For where...strife (is), there is confusion and every evil work

7. How to deal with disunity:

1Thes.5:14 - Warn them that are unruly

A. When it's just between us and a fellow worker:

Pro.25:9 - Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another
Mat.18:15 - Tell him his fault between thee and him alone
Lk.17:4 - If he trespass 7 times in a day, and 7 times a day turn again, saying, I repent...forgive
1Pet.4:8 - Charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins
(See Mat.18:21,22)

B. When there is a division in the work, let pastors and elders settle the disputes:

Acts 15:2 - When (they) had no small dissension, they determined (to) go to the elders about this question
Acts 15:7,12 - When there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and (spoke). Then all the multitude kept silence
Gal.6:1 - If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one

C. Let it pass if it's not an important disagreement:

Rom.14:2,3 - One believeth that he may eat all things: another... eateth [only] herbs
Rom.14:4-6 - One esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike

8. Excommunication:

A. Excommunication of those who cause division:

Pro.22:10 - Cast out the scorner, and...strife shall cease
Mat.18:15-17 - If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen
Rom.16:17 - Mark them which cause divisions and offences...and avoid
1Cor.5:11-13 - With such an one no, not to eat...put away wicked
2Thes.3:6 - We command you...that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly
1Tim.6:3,5b - If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to...the doctrine...from such withdraw thyself
Tit.3:10 - An heretick after first and second admonition, reject
2Jn.10,11 - If any...bring not this doctrine, receive him not
(See also 1Tim.6:3-5; Jude 12a.)

B. Partial excommunication:

2Thes.3:14,15 - If any obey not...have no company with him...yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish as a brother

9. Restoration to fellowship:

Gal.6:1 - If a man be overtaken in a fault...restore [him]
2Tim.2:25,26 - In meekness instructing those...that they may recover
Jam.5:19,20 - If any of you err from the truth, and one convert him
(See also Lk.15:11-24 - re: return of the prodigal son)

10. When contentions and disputes are necessary:

To refute false doctrine or serious wrong behaviour:
Jude 3 - Ye should earnestly contend for the faith
Jn.7:43 - There was a division among people because of (Jesus)
Acts 15:1,2 - "Except ye be circumcised, ye cannot be saved." Paul...had no small dissension and disputation with them
Gal.2:11-14 - When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face...I (rebuked) Peter before them all
1Tim.5:20. Them that sin, rebuke before all that others may fear

Important chapters on unity: Psa.133; Jn.17; 1Cor.12; Eph.4; Rom.12.

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Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International

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James Arendt
James Arendt

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