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Studies In The Life Of The Christian by Henry T. Sell

STUDY IV THE CHRISTIAN'S FELLOW MAN

Scripture references: Luke 10:29-37; Matthew 7:12; 5:16; Luke 12:13-15; 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 7:3-5; 5:42-49; John 21:21, 22.

MAN AND OTHER MEN

The Question of Relationship. -- One of the most important questions is that of the relation which a man shall hold to other men.

1. It is fundamental in every system of philosophy and religion. The answers, which are given, show their widespread practical bearing in the social, industrial and political spheres, as well as in the religious.

2. It is imperative from the fact it demands a reply which becomes at once the basis of action. A man, amongst men, is under the necessity of deciding how he will conduct himself towards his fellow men.

There are many divergent opinions, in regard to the relation which a man should sustain to his fellow man, which lead to widely divergent courses of action and largely affect the world for good or ill.

Jesus Christ was outspoken on this matter. His words (Luke 10:29-37; Matthew 22:36-40) go at once to the heart of the question and give its only possible solution.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN

The Inequalities in the Lives of Men are many and far reaching. They divide men from each other and tend, if brooded over, to make them live lives apart, with a lessening sympathy and a growing hostility. They pertain to race, education, business and society. They may be natural, or artificially induced.

The great inequality to-day, however, upon which men place an acute emphasis is that of wealth or the lack of it. A man once came to Jesus and said, |Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me| (Luke 12:13); there is the same demand to-day. Men are not seeking to share the responsibility of a self-denying service to their fellow-men, such as Jesus gave; neither are they greatly desirous of advancing the cause of righteousness in the world, but they are too largely looking to the betterment of their material condition. It is this state of affairs which often spurs men on to accumulate wealth by the oppression of their fellow men. Many men work and plan for certain great results in financial matters (as though these were the supreme things), only to be disappointed and in consequence lose their interest in life. It is the making of the struggle for material betterment the chief thing in life which causes strikes, lockouts and most of our modern industrial troubles. Here we find also the cause of heart-burnings and jealousies and deep-seated hatreds.

It is said that out of these struggles between competitors, and employer and employee, there is coming a better understanding between the contending parties and also new adjustments which will do away with these destructive strifes. This may all be true, but so long as men seek simply and only for material betterment, ignoring the spiritual and moral in their lives, any readjustment of hours of labour or scale of wages or agreements will only be of a temporary character, for the real cause of the whole trouble is left untouched. One of the ablest writers upon |The Social Unrest| says, |At the heart of the larger labour movement is the race longing for a society in which at least the spirit of equality shall be realized. Most radical remedies are only means to this end. Beyond, and deeper than all the machinery of social reconstruction, is this master passion of democracy.| But this same writer also, after a survey of the whole question, declares that before this equality can be realized there must come a character founded on love.

Cause and Remedy. -- Selfishness is often the real cause of the sting of inequality and of the keeping of men apart; until this is eradicated and replaced by the master passion of love -- employer for employee and employee for employer -- no agreements and no legislation, between the contending forces will serve the purpose. It was the master passion of a supreme love which produced the first social equality society (Acts 4:32-37); it was selfishness which broke it up (Acts 5:1-13). This selfishness is also at the root of the arrogance which causes men to despise men of an inferior race, culture or social position and seeks to use them for purposes of gain.

Perfect equality amongst men, however, outside of equality before the law and God, hardly seems a realizable thing; certainly all men cannot be of the same age and of the same stature at the same time; there are gifts of talent; there are different races, but where supreme love is it takes out the sting of a sense of an inferiority and the jealousy and hatred of superior gifts; under its benign influence the rich and the poor, the talented and the untalented, work together as brethren. The brotherhood of love is the only true brotherhood and the only solution of this vexed question.

THE TRUE RELATION OF MAN TO MAN

Who is My Neighbour? -- The answer which Jesus gave to this question (Luke 10:29), which a certain lawyer asked of Him in order to justify himself, shows the true relation of man to man.

The lawyer doubtless supposed when he put this question to Jesus that he would silence Him. The Jews in their proud isolation considered themselves the chosen people of God and despised other races, even looking with a certain contempt upon their Roman conquerors. How would the Jewish Messiah, if not put to silence, answer a question like this? Doubtless the reply would be that only a Jew could be neighbour to a Jew. The race spirit is a strong one and men born to a certain nationality have many stout binding ties of speech and customs, which are not easily broken.

Mark, however, the large mindedness of Jesus. He breaks at once through race ties and without so much as mentioning the Jew, he takes the Samaritan as the example of a good neighbour. Now the Jews and the Samaritans had no dealings with each other, their animosity was well known; at this distance of time we can hardly realize how startling a thing it was to take a Samaritan as an example of a good neighbour. But it is right here that Jesus begins to show us the true relation of man to man and that this relation is superior to race, caste, language, social distinctions, customs and organizations.

My neighbour, then, is not only the man who lives next door, or is in the same business, or belongs to the same church or labour organization, or political party, but all men are my neighbours and I am to seek to do them good (Luke 10:30-37). This definition of neighbour does away with all clannishness and exclusiveness, and man comes face to face with his fellow man as a man.

How Shall I Treat My Neighbour? -- A number of answers may be given:

1. Investigate the claims of my neighbour when I see him in a sad condition. The good Samaritan did this at considerable personal risk, for he could be by no means sure that the robbers would not return and rob him. Too many men, when they see their neighbours in want, pass by on the other side, as the priest and Levite did. Adversity has been described as |a deep pit, into which a man has fallen, which is surrounded by his near-sighted friends.|

2. Sympathize and succour my neighbour in trouble and do what is needed to help him get upon his feet.

3. Interest myself in the well being of my neighbour after the immediate and acute necessity for aid is past. There are many who are willing to aid when a pressing call comes, but who are unwilling to keep up that aid through the convalescing stage; here is where the summons comes to be not weary in well doing to one's neighbour.

Outside of money help and aid in times of disaster and sickness there are many who are lonesome for words of cheer and acts of kindness on the part of those with whom they daily come in contact. There is a deeper meaning in the parable than that which relates to physical pain. There is a suffering of the soul and a mental trouble which beseech the kindness of the Christlike neighbourly touch.

4. There is also the larger work, which is fundamental, of bringing one's fellow man into the fellowship and communion of Jesus Christ; this is the greatest benefit which any Christian man can confer upon his brother-man (John 1:40-42,45).

CHRIST'S LAW OF LOVE

Statement of the Law. -- |Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself| (Matthew 22:39). A certain lawyer asked Jesus, |Master, which is the great commandment of the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.| The kingdom of God will come when this commandment is fully obeyed by men.

Exposition of the Law. -- It would seem as if a law so plainly stated would need no explanation or exposition. But before men can rightly love each other they must have certain principles and a certain character. It is not desirable that evil men with depraved thoughts and bad lives love us as they love themselves; for they love that which, if accepted by men, would lead to deep corruption of character.

Jesus Christ well put it that God must first be loved, with all the heart, soul and mind, before a man is ready to love his neighbour as himself. This loving of God, first, implies an acceptance of the standpoint of God in regard to man and the looking upon one's fellow man as God looks upon him. This standpoint of God is best seen in the words and acts of Jesus Christ. A man in order, then, to love his fellow man aright must be thoroughly imbued with the principles of the Master. A man must look upon other men as having souls of eternal value. A man who would do as Jesus would have him do must first have His spirit of self-sacrificing love (Matthew 23:8-12; John 17:19; Philippians 2:5-7; Isaiah 53:3; John 13:12-15).

Application of the Law. -- The beauty of this law of love is that it may be universally applied. There is no condition of man that it cannot meet and satisfy. The crying wrongs of the home, society, the industrial world, the state, arise out of its neglect and condemnation. Men seek to make good their claims for things which they think belong to them, they fight for them, gain them or lose them, fight again or are fought, and in consequence race hatred, class and industrial hatred embitter the hearts of men.

This law applied to the life of the individual, sweetens it in its lowest depths and makes the strongest kind of a character. Paul is an example of an able yet impetuous man, who let the gospel of the love of Christ have its supreme way with him. We find in him no shrinking from difficulties or death itself (2 Timothy 4:6-8). In the midst of sore trials he wrote that remarkable classic (1 Corinthians 13) upon love which has been the help and stay of many a burdened soul.

This law applied in society is its only saving power. It is this Christ love which sends men into the slums of the cities to work for their fellow men. It is this love that is the moving power of the missionary of the cross, when he goes into the heart of heathendom. It is this love that has brought into the world all the reforms that are worth having and caused it to care for its sick and its poor.

It is to be deplored that in some quarters we should hear voices talking about the inability of the Church to cope with the modern conditions of life and that these voices should be calling for new institutions to take its place. So long as the Church recognizes its duty to preach and practice the love of God to man, man to God, and man to his fellow man, no institution can take its place; for it has in this preaching, and the application of it, the supreme remedy for the ills of mankind. Where there is no love or regard of man for his God or fellow men all agreements and all laws however stoutly made, with and for contending parties, have in them a fatal weakness.

It is love that sent Jesus Christ into the world (John 3:16,17) and it is its proclamation, and acceptance as the ruling power of life, that has caused all the real advancement in civilization since His advent.

QUESTIONS

What can be said of the question of the relationship of man to other men? What can be said of the inequalities in the lives of men and the great inequality? What is the cause and remedy of the sting of inequality? Who is my neighbour? How shall I treat my neighbour? What is Christ's law of love? Give the statement, exposition and application of the law.

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