MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER
"We are members one of another." Ephes. 4:25
This title brings before me very important relationships to my fellow Christians. We are all members of one body. We partake of the same spiritual life. We are united to the same Divine Head. Our present state of trial, our earthly condition, is the same. Our cares, and duties, and sorrows, are exceedingly alike. Our personal experience and infirmities are the same. We are partakers of one Spirit and of one hope. We are engaged in one warfare under one Leader, and are journeying to one glorious home. These constitute very important relationships. None can be more so. They will last, some of them as long as we live on the earth--some of them forever. It is a great blessing indeed to have been brought into this spiritual body of Christ--this blessed company of God's elect. If I am there–
1. Then I ought to feel and cultivate a SYMPATHY for all the members of the body of Christ. If one member of my physical body suffers, all the others suffer with it. It is so also in the spiritual body of Christ. I would act ever upon the remembrance of this fact. I would remember that all true Christians are one. I would build up therefore no unnecessary lines of division among the Lord's people, but realize as much as possible my union with all. There are no Christians on earth with whom I have not more points of concord than of disagreement. Why should I not remember this, and regard them with affection and confidence? Let me cultivate this spirit of sympathy and tenderness towards all. I need it from others. I would feel it for them. Let me never, for mere trifles, destroy the work of God. In cultivating a spirit of sympathy and tenderness, I am promoting my own happiness, as well as the happiness of others. I am sure I shall remember such a course with more pleasure hereafter.
2. Then I ought to be willing to EDIFY and HELP others according to my ability. My outward earthly things I should be willing to impart. But not in these only should I be helpful. I must aid by my counsel, by my prayers, by my influence, in every effort which I can make. No man lives to himself. There will constantly be some influence going out from me upon all. Let me see that it is a good one. Wherever I am, let my labor be to edify, not to destroy. I am but one, but I am one. I can do but little--but I can do something; and however small it may be, let it be right, and let me be faithful in it. Oh, it will be a blessed ministry to edify all my fellow Christians, with whom I am connected, to the extent of my means. How much benefit I may actually receive from the prayers of others! How constantly I ought to repay it! The privilege of intercessory prayer is very great. I am persuaded that I use it far too little. Ah! if others love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, ought I not to pray that grace may be with them? Ought I not to rejoice that Christ is among them?
3. Then I ought to LOVE all the members of the Savior's body. There are particular bonds which connect me with individuals. God has made them so. I cannot but love them particularly. I am not required to do otherwise. But beyond these local and natural ties, I ought to love all the members of Christ, whenever I see them--wherever I meet them--whoever or whatever they may be. My heart should feel kindly to them, and wish well for them. They bear the image of their Master. They belong to the flock of Christ. They are led by the Spirit of Christ. I must love that image wherever it is. How happy and how useful to me is this spirit of love! All bitterness and bigotry is not more opposed to the spirit of the gospel, than it is to my own happiness. I find ever that what is truly right is really happy. Oh let me act upon this blessed spirit, and cultivate it more and more.
4. Then l ought to put no stumbling-block in the way of any. My example, and character, and influence, ought never to be an obstacle. How solemnly the Savior warns me against offending one of his little ones! It were better a mill-stone were hanged about my neck, and I were cast into the sea. This is a fearful sentence. What can be more dreadful? Oh let me watch that I come not under it. How sad will it be to meet in the day of judgment, those whom my example has turned away from Christ, or caused to fall from him! Let me be daily careful. My conversation, my daily walk, my relationships, my business, my recreations, are all watched--are all influential--may all be useful--may all be injurious. What responsibility rests upon me in this relationship! My habitual character must come into my account. What influence have I had? Who has been saved--or who has been injured, perhaps destroyed, through me?
5. How valuable are these reciprocal traits to the church of Christ! Sympathy--actual help--love to all--no obstacles to any. What a blessing would attend the whole church, were this the actual character of all its members! How happy will it be for me in every way to promote it! Oh let me watch for this spirit of union. Let me encourage it. Let me cultivate it constantly, earnestly. I am sure such a course must be acceptable to my glorious Lord, who has bid all his disciples to love one another as he has loved them.
Our souls by love together knit,
Converted, mixed in one,
One hope, one heart, one mind, one voice,
'Tis heaven on earth begun.