Mature Class Study, teacher Edith Tolbert

Paul was in jail writing to admonish the people to have the same love, be in one accord and one mind – to be in unity.

Philippians 2:1-3 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Unity: state of being one, harmonious; in agreement with so all the parts produce a single harmonious effect. If one hundred pianos are each tuned with the same tuning fork, all the pianos are going to be in harmony when they’re played. God wants us to be harmonious together so there’s unity and we’re basically focused on one thing – doing God’s will.

Philippians 2:2-3 (Amplified Classic) Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention. Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].

God doesn’t want us to have divisive motives, contentiousness, strife, or selfishness. We all have differences of opinion. What did we do and how did we act when we had differences? A divisive person has their particular views and always says, my way is the only way. They’re opinionated, unyielding, proud, and selfish. God hates when people divide brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). God wants us to have the love of God. Do you always contribute to perfect unity, harmony, and oneness in your family, your marriage, your home, in church, and with friends? God wants us to be clothed with humility so there’s no division. He wants us to be pliable and put off divisive ways so we can be used in his kingdom. Paul admonished the people that there be no divisions but to be perfectly joined in the same mind and same judgment. The only way we can have the same mind and same judgment is to be saved and then be sanctified.

I Corinthians 1:9-10 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son…I beseech you…that ye all speak the same thing…there be no divisions among you…be perfectly joined together in the same mind and…same judgment.

Paul wasn’t saying they weren’t saved. He said they were babes in Christ and they still had a carnal nature. The carnal nature caused them to have envy, strife, and divisions at times. That’s the reason why it’s vitally important for us to be saved and then go on to be sanctified so that the carnal nature can be rooted out. God wants us to grow spiritually so we can eat strong meat. We have to be sanctified so we’re completely sold out to what God wants for us.

I Corinthians 3:1-3…I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it…For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

The disciples were not of the world even as Jesus wasn’t, but there was still a carnal nature in them. They argued about who was the greatest. When people didn’t receive them, they wanted retaliate and call fire down to destroy them.

John 17:16-17 They are not of the world, even as I am not…Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

The disciples were saved but Jesus prayed they would be sanctified so the carnal nature would be removed. We need to be saved and go on to be sanctified so the carnal nature is removed. Then there can be complete oneness with the Father and Jesus. A newspaper article said there was a woman journalist in China that wrote articles about the COVID virus. She was convicted to four years in prison for picking quarrels and provoking trouble when she  reported on the virus. God doesn’t want us to be picking quarrels and provoking trouble. God help us to love him so we’re not selfish, wanting our own way, argumentative, putting people down, or unyielding. God wants us to be pliable.

John 17:21-23 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee…that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one…that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as…me.

We’re members one of another so we aren’t to think more highly of ourselves than others, but think soberly.

There’s a story about a turtle who wanted to go from California to Florida for the winter. He knew he could never walk all that way. So he talked to two of the ducks in his pond and said they were better equipped to fly the long distance. He got a piece of strong cord and persuaded the two ducks to take each end while he held on to the center with his strong jaws. It was a pleasant flight and everything was going as planned until someone on the ground looked up and said with admiration, “Who in the world thought of that?” Unable to restrain the impulse to take full credit for the idea, the turtle opened his mouth and that was the end of him.

If we get proud and think more highly of ourselves, we’re going to sin and die spiritually. God wants us to be humble.

Romans 12:3-5 For I say…to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought…to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…as we have many members in one body…

There are diversities of gifts and differences of administration but the same spirit. Everyone on the face of the earth is different from another person. We’re all made different, think a little differently, have different likes and dislikes, different hair color, eye color, some are short, some are tall. There are differences of administration in how brothers administer congregations. We have to accept and work with the administration God gives us because we’re all different.

I Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

I Corinthians 12:11-12 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members…being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

We have to be willing to put on longsuffering, meekness, gentleness, kindness, forbearance. We need to have mercy and compassion on those with differences, regardless of circumstances. Everyone is going to have different opinions. How we respond is what is important. God is asking us to have unity in the body of Christ with all the differences. God puts the members in the body. He knows the heart and places everyone in the body as it pleases him and it needs to please us. We need to have the attitude that we’re going to serve God with all of our heart and be clothed with humility. Everyone that God places in the body we’ll be pleased with and work with. There won’t be contention, strife, envy, and wanting our own way. We’ll be willing to be pliable with other members to stay in unity.

I Corinthians 12:18-20 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.

We don’t have a lack of adaptation. We have to adapt – be pliable and flexible with others. We can’t be rigid so it has to be our way. Our eyes are not like our hands, and our heads are not like our feet. Members in the body of Christ are like that. They all have a function and work together in harmony to make up the body. It will hinder the unity of the body of Christ if someone has an unforgiving spirit. If we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us (Mark 11:26). Whether before we were saved or after, it hinders our prayer if we don’t forgive. God wants us to have total forgiveness.

I Corinthians 12:25-26 (Amplified Classic) That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. And if one member suffers, all…[share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all…[share in] the enjoyment of it.

When people won’t forgive, they get bitter in their heart and aren’t willing to let it go. It becomes more important than salvation. We have to love God more than our opinions or anything, and be willing to forgive anyone that wronged us.

Hebrews 12:14-15 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

No one will see the Lord if they don’t have holiness and peace with all men. We have to be diligent to keep everything right in our heart lest we fail in the grace of God. If there’s an unforgiving spirit in me, it’s my fault because I’ve failed in God’s grace. His grace is sufficient for every need and he’ll help us have forgiveness and kindness for every situation. On the cross Jesus willingly forgave everyone. The enemy makes people think they have a right to not forgive. A root of bitterness troubles us if we don’t forgive. Many are defiled when you run down the person, causing division and grief.

A Quarrel Among the Tools ~ Author Unknown

The Carpenter’s tools had a conference. Brother Hammer was in the chair. The meeting had informed him that he must leave, because he was too noisy. But he said, “If I am to leave this carpenter’s shop, Brother Gimlet must go too; he is so insignificant that he makes very little impression.”

Little Brother Gimlet arose and said, “All right, but Brother Screw must go also; you have to turn him around and around again and again to get him anywhere.”

Brother Screw then said, “If you wish, I will go, but Brother Plane must leave also; all his work is on the surface, there is no depth to it.”

To this Brother Plane replied, “Well Brother Rule will have to withdraw if I do, for he is always measuring other folks as though he were the only one who is right.”

Brother Rule then complained against Brother Sandpaper and said, “I just don’t care, he is rougher than he ought to be, and he rubs people the wrong way.”

In the midst of the discussion, the Carpenter of Nazareth walked in. He had come to perform his day’s work. He put on his apron, and went to the bench to make a pulpit. He employed the screw, the gimlet, the sandpaper, the saw, the hammer, the plane, and all the other tools. After the day’s work was over and the pulpit was finished, Brother Saw arose and said, “Brethren, I perceive that all of us are labourers together with God.”

How many of us are like those tools, fussing at others because they don’t do things like we think they should? The accusations against the tools were absolutely true. Yet the carpenter (Jesus) used everyone. We are all God’s tools, workers together. Maybe you think, Well, they’re rubbing me the wrong way! God may be using them to get rough spots off you so you can be a little more humble, patient, kind, and long-suffering.

Zechariah 7:8-13 And the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah…saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear…the words which the Lord…sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord…it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear…

God said to execute true judgment, show mercy and compassion to everyone, and don’t imagine evil in your heart against your brother. They refused to listen, to show mercy or compassion, to stop imagining evil against their brother, to help the fatherless, poor, or those in need. God said because they refused a time was coming when they would cry but he wouldn’t listen. In Noah’s time, it took him a hundred years to build the ark and he preached to the people but they refused to listen. After the ark doors closed and it started raining, people outside started crying to God but it was too late. At Sodom and Gomorrah the message came but they refused. When it started raining fire and brimstone, some cried to God but it was too late. It’s vitally important for us to love our brethren above ourselves! It’s important to be pliable, clothed with humility, meekness, longsuffering, not get offended or upset because someone is different from us, to forbear – put up with and make allowances because you love each other. We have unity by the love of God.

Ephesians 4:2-3 (Amplified Classic) Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.