By: Gary Hutchens
How should we think about our brothers and sisters in Christ? In the New Testament alone we find the phrase “one another” at least eighty one times. A great many of those references, particularly beginning with the thirteenth chapter of John, have to do with our relationship with our fellow Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are to “love one another” as Christ has loved us, thus demonstrating to the world that we are His disciples (Jn. 13:34-35). A sampling of these passages instructs us to “love one another” (Jn. 15:12, 17; Rom. 13:8; 1 Jn. 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn. 1:5), “be kindly affectionate to one another...giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10), “be of the same mind toward one another” (Rom. 12:16), not unjustly “judge one another” (Rom. 14:13), “be like-minded toward one another” (Rom. 15:5), “receive one another” (Rom. 15:7), “admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14), “greet one another” (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12), not “go to law against one another” (1 Cor. 6:7), “have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25), “serve one another” (Gal. 5:13), “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), “be kind to one another...forgiving one another” (Eph. 4:32), “not lie to one another” (Col. 3:9), “edify one another” (1 Thess. 5:11), “exhort one another” (Heb. 3:13), “pray for one another” (Jas. 5:16), “minister...to one another” (1 Pet. 4:10) and “have fellowship with one another” (1 Jn. 1:7) among many other such instructions.
Clearly, New Testament scripture gives heavy emphasis to our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to genuinely, sincerely and openly love one another. If we properly love one another, we ought not mistreat one another. We should have genuine care and concern for one another.
With these thoughts in mind, what should be our attitude toward our lost brothers and sisters in Christ, those Christians who have become unfaithful and gone back out into the world? If we truly love them as we’re instructed to do, can we just let them go without trying to lead them back? The souls of our unfaithful brothers and sisters stand in jeopardy of eternal condemnation (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-27). Remember that Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21).
The apostle Paul instructs faithful Christians to strive to bring an unfaithful brother or sister back to faithfulness: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness...” (Gal. 6:1). James addresses the same situation: “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19-20). Certainly, we need to pray diligently for them (Jas. 5:16), but we also need to actively reach out and try to lead them back.
Almost without question, each of us knows of unfaithful members of the Lord’s church. Pray for them, diligently and regularly. Reach out to them, in whatever way you can, striving to help them see their error and their need to come back to the Lord. Let’s be careful to not forget our lost brothers and sisters in Christ...
Gary L. Hutchens