When False Brethren Attack
Sadly, brethren will at times overly criticize, attempting to divide the church by binding matters of opinion. Whenever divisive brethren attack the church in a way that can only be reasonably seen as inappropriate, unloving, and damaging we would do well to remember:
I Should Evaluate Criticism. No matter how it came or where it came from self-reflection is good. I should ask myself, “Do they have a point?” The criticism might be valid (in whole or in part). My goal should always be to grow closer to God, never to defeat my critic. While evaluating the criticism I need to be careful not to overreact to it. The danger is that I might overcompensate for lack of love shown by a divisive brother and move too far in the other direction. “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:59). “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves…” (II Corinthians 13:5).
I Should Love My Brother. While this individual is doing great harm, he is still my brother. Despite the errors in doctrine and judgment I must repay with love. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). I should not gossip about him. I should not slander him. I should hope for the best. I should be kind. Especially important to this discussion is the statement that love, “is not easily provoked” (I Corinthians 13:5). “Recompense to no man evil for evil…” (Romans 12:17).
I Should Use it for Good. Our brotherhood is divided. On everything. When divisive brethren attack you have just another example of what is obvious. Those who feel obligated to police the brotherhood will eventually offend the majority and find themselves nearly alone. I believe these occasions are opportunities. We can find common ground with brethren we might have felt divided from before for whatever reason. Let’s use these opportunities to reopen the lines of communication and endeavor to maintain unity with them (Ephesians 4:3). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
It is very unpleasant to see the bride of Christ attacked in such a vicious way. But at the least let good be the final result by choosing to evaluate self, love others, and use the opportunities provided to seek unity.