Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTLIKENESS – PART 15
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3: 18
B. Developing Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power Toward Jesus
We may develop these attributes toward our Lord Jesus by the same method as we use in our development toward the Father; because in all dealings that the Father has with us in reference to sin, justification, consecration and perfecting of character, the Son is His Agent. The principles, steps and experiences being the same, to avoid repetition we refer the reader to The Development of Christlikeness – Part 14.
C. Developing Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power Toward the Brethren
Our text assures us that by beholding as in a mirror the glory of God, wherein we see how the Heavenly Father exercises His Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power toward the brethren, we may develop characteristics toward them like the Father’s by the method of imitation. The Heavenly Father does not look at them according to the flesh, but He considers them as robed in the righteousness of Christ. He, therefore, looks upon them in Wisdom and Justice as perfect human beings because of the imputed righteousness of Christ; in Love, appreciating the righteousness of Christ, He showers His favors upon them; and His Power regulates His Wisdom, Justice and Love so that He continues to treat the brethren from the standpoint of their perfection in Christ’s righteousness.
Thus, by contemplating how the Father regards the brethren, as covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, we more and more view them in the same way, and are thereby enabled to imitate God and Christ. We deal in wisdom with them as acceptable to God and Christ in the righteousness of Christ and therefore they are also acceptable to us. Our sense of justice, out of obligation to God and Christ from the standpoint of the merit of Christ reckoned to them, we look upon them as completely satisfactory to God and thus as acceptable to us. Our love, realizing that the precious merit of Christ is theirs, will go out to them as such. We will in power exercise the necessary self-control and patience to keep this viewpoint in wisdom, justice and love in our estimate of them according to the flesh.
But the Heavenly Father does not ignore the flesh altogether; rather, He makes such wise use of their faults as to help them overcome these in their interests. His Wisdom, therefore, plans such experiences for them as will enable them to overcome their faults, combining in this plan the various elements of wisdom as James gives them. His Justice moves Him not to spare the flesh when it would prove detrimental to them; therefore, He aids in controlling the flesh through various experiences, often in cooperation with the brethren. His Love, desiring to see us develop, cooperates with His Justice and Wisdom in overcoming the faults of the flesh. The necessary self-control and patience of Power is also utilized (unless willful in them) until the flesh is defeated.
As we continue to contemplate how the Heavenly Father deals with the faults of the brethren, we will more and more be enabled to take the same view of their faults, and by imitation act in harmony therewith. But the caution must be given to some, that due to their weaknesses, if they are unable to notice the brethren’s faults without it embittering and therefore injuring them, it is necessary for them to entirely ignore the faults, lacks and weaknesses of others. However, there are some brethren who are able to notice blemishes in others without injuring themselves. These, by making use of their knowledge of these lacks, faults and weaknesses in others, have a blessed opportunity to minister to others in helping them to overcome their flesh (Galatians 6: 1).
As they see the Father in His Wisdom making helpful plans to rid them of their faults, so will they, seek to put into operation by imitation a plan that will enable them to help the brethren out of their faults, combining in this plan the various qualities of wisdom as James gives them. Their sense of justice will discharge the same obligation toward God and Christ in the interests of others for their rescue from the faults of the flesh. As they continue beholding how the Father continues helping the brethren to overcome their faults, love for righteousness will fill their hearts with delight in seeking to be of benefit to the brethren in rescuing them from their faults. Therefore, in power they will exercise the necessary self-control and patience in assisting their brethren to overcome their lacks and faults.
How the Father Looks at Us
The Father looked upon the brethren of the Little Flock as New Creatures in Christ Jesus, as the class whom the prophets foresaw, foretold and longed for; the class whose manifestation in glory the whole human race awaits amid groaning and travailing. He recognized them as the loyal friends of righteousness amid a crooked and perverse generation, willingly giving up their human all in the interests of the Truth in this life, and using them as His future instruments in overcoming sin and introducing everlasting righteousness. This moved Him to exercise the sentiments of Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power toward them in a higher form of expression than toward any other creatures.
His Wisdom caused Him to make such arrangements as developed the New Creature in them to perfection, blending in these arrangements the various characteristics of Wisdom. As His children, He felt obligated in Justice to give them the needed help. His love for good principles, resting upon His loyal sons, delighted in developing them to perfection so that they may carry forward all His glorious work. He exercised the necessary Power in controlling His Wisdom, Justice and Love in developing them until they made their calling and election sure to the Kingdom. He was even willing to use their humanity as a sacrifice for their perfection as New Creatures.
Realizing the weakness of their humanity, His Wisdom indicated the best way to bring about the perfection of the New Creatures in them, as well as in their brethren, whom He blessed through their ministry. His Justice, accepting their humanity as a sacrifice with the Lord Jesus for the world, used up their humanity in acts of service on behalf of His cause. Because He loved the righteousness of this class, as exemplified in their efforts to perfect themselves and to bless other New Creatures, in using their humanity in sacrifice, He delighted in using up their human all in sacrifice for their own spiritual interests and those of the brethren. And He used all the necessary self-control and patience of Power to secure the cultivation of His glorious character in them.
Of course, the same general principle holds true for us who are of the non-spirit-begotten consecrated; the difference being that the Heavenly Father develops our new human hearts, minds and wills.
How We Look upon the Brethren
As we continue beholding the Heavenly Father’s Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power in our hearts and minds, in His dealing with the brethren, more and more will we be enabled to look upon them from the same standpoint. Thus we will, by imitation, gradually develop wisdom, justice, love and power toward them. Wisdom will see in them good and noble qualities that require further development; therefore, it will plan for their service, seeing to it that all the qualities of wisdom as James gives them are found in the plan. Our sense of justice moves us to do toward them what we would have them do for us in our development. Love, seeing good and noble qualities in them, will gladly serve them. Finally, the necessary strength of character in self-control and patience will exercise itself on their behalf.
Since we love the brethren, and since we are obligated to God on their behalf, we will willingly arrange such plans as will wisely benefit them. The good will of justice will manifest itself for their good in many kind acts. The love that seeks their development in Christlikeness will move us to serve them even unto death. Moreover, the self-control and patience of power will do its part for their highest good. So, by continually beholding how the Father looks on the brethren from the standpoint of their justification through the merit of Christ, from the standpoint of His seeking to put aside their faults, from the standpoint of His seeking to develop their characters and from the standpoint of using up the humanity of the brethren in the interests of one another, we will by imitation be enabled to develop the same glorious character.
(to be continued)