Strengthen Thy Brethren
by Inglis Fleming
This was to be Peter’s mission when he was restored after his denial of the Lord. He must be recovered himself if he was to help others in the Christian course. So it was that when brought back to communion and service the Lord said, “Feed my lambs . . . Shepherd my sheep . . . Feed my sheep.” Fulfilling our Lord’s behest by his life and letters, by his practice and preaching. Peter strengthened his brethren in Christ.
And if ever there was a day when the saints of God needed strengthening, it is today. The word to us all therefore is, “Be strong in the Lord and in the might of His strength.” There is no weakness with Him. He is as enough for the last lap of the race as He was for the first. He is sufficient for His own until the journey is over and the goal is reached.
For our encouragement it has been pointed out that the power—the exceeding greatness of God’s power towards us which wrought in Christ in raising Him from the dead and in quickening believers—is now working in us and is able to do “above all that we ask or think”—“abundantly above all that we ask or think,” exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. It works in us so that we may enter into the thoughts and purposes of our God and Father. And that same power operates through us to maintain the interests of our Lord Jesus here. It is that power we are to be strong. It is an almighty power.
Every question concerning our blessing has been settled. Our sins are gone for ever. All that we were in the flesh has been judged. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to enable us to refuse the flesh and its lusts. Yes! all is settled for our individual blessing, and we are set up in His power to be a blessing to others, to “strengthen our brethren.” Strengthen them for the service of the Lord—for the proclamation of the gospel, for “the work of the ministry and for the succour of the saints”—in order that they may stand, and having done all to stand; never yielding an inch of ground or an iota of truth to the enemy.
“Comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, make straight paths for your feet lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but rather, let it be healed.” There are the feeble minded; comfort them. There are the weak; support them. There are the lame; go in a straight path—be a good example to them lest they stumble.
It was the saying of one concerning a large meeting of Christians that that assembly was like an old four post bedstead. There were four brothers who did the work of the maintenance of the meetings, and the rest went to sleep inside.”
The four sought to strengthen their brethren—the others needed the strengthening. Which was the more honourable position?
Every one of us contributes power or weakness to the whole assembly of God, and to any company of the children of God with whom we may be found. If we come to meet others while we are walking in the Spirit we take a measure of spiritual health and strength to all, for “if one member is honoured all the members rejoice with it.” On the other hand if “one member suffer all the members suffer with it.”
A solemn thought this! And we cannot alter the truth—we must carry power or weakness with us wherever we are found. Each of us is a help or a hindrance to those about us.
Our privilege is to be a help—to be power for others, and as we are this we shall strengthen our brethren.
“There are many passengers on board the ship, but not many who work the ship,” was the way it was put by another old Christian.
This is true of the church at large and it is all too largely true of each meeting of Christians. A few are the workers and the others are borne along by their aid. And this has ever been the case in the history of the church on earth. There have been the strong and there have been the weak.
Surely the more honourable place should be coveted by us. We should earnestly desire to be strength and not weakness to our fellow-believers. And every one of us may be in the power of His might. A privilege indeed to be for His pleasure in the help of His loved ones!
And as we look around and see so many of the Lord’s loved ones without peace and assurance, and so many needing to be fed and nourished up in the words of faith and of sound doctrine, we may well be stirred to activity of service for their blessing. Our Lord is at hand and His reward is with Him.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).