Earnest, Loving Concern
“I beseech you … brethren, by the mercies of God” (Romans 12:1)
by David Stein
The Apostle Paul loved the brethren. Their spiritual health and well-being were all-important to him. Consequently, Paul on occasion pleads with brethren about things he considered vital to their growth as new creatures. On those occasions, he “beseeches” the brethren.
The word “beseech” is not a word we hear frequently. The modern equivalent might be “implore.” But “beseech” is a perfect word to use when we want to express something important and close to our hearts. This word expresses the plea of our souls for someone for whom we have great affection.
Our study objective is to use this expression as a key to discover what the apostles and teachers of the first century felt were really important for them to impart to brethren. The utility to us is obvious. We want to focus upon the vitally important aspects of our consecrations. Wherever they use this expression, it is a signpost of something important.
(1) Invitation to Consecration …
… and the importance of recognizing our vocation, our covenant of sacrifice and service, and walking worthy of it.
Romans 12:1 — “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” The important idea here is a personal sacrifice in the service of God. Paul pleads with the brethren to make the decision of consecration, to contract with God through Christ to offer themselves as a living sacrifice.
Ephesians 4:1-3 — “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Walking worthy is a requirement to be joined with Christ in heavenly glory.
Paul knew both the cost and the blessings of a life consecrated to God and he did not shrink from setting an example and encouraging others to follow him.
(2) Praying for Brethren, Especially Those Active in God’s Service
Romans 15:30 — “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”
Hebrews 13:18-22 — “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.”
Very few things are as important to our spiritual lives as prayer. As prayer operates on an invisible level, it becomes a matter of faith that we believe in the power of prayer and to practice it. With all the burdens the Apostle Paul willfully bore on behalf of the church, he found great comfort and strength knowing about prayers on his behalf by the brotherhood. He recognized that a special blessing would come to them out of their interest in his spiritual work. Taking Paul’s concern to heart, we should take stock of our prayer life, particularly our interest in the brethren. The Lord takes this as a measure of our interest in His interests! Here is a short list of questions for self-examination:
Do we know what is going on in the body of Christ?
Do we know who is active in the proclamation of the Gospel?
Do we know what your elders are wrestling with in their shepherding of the Lord’s flock?
Do we have any ideas to promulgate the Gospel?
We do not have apostles laboring on our behalf today, but we do have many brethren doing the same shepherding work of Paul. This includes the elders and teachers, but also all brothers and sisters who labor to help and assist others in our spiritual family. We should pray for those that are accountable for our lives and laboring on our behalf. It is sin for us not to pray for one another (1 Samuel 12:23).
1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 — “We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” Throughout the Gospel age, there have been those that applied themselves intensely to the care and nurturing of the church. Paul wants us to recognize those who labor hard in this regard and rightly esteem them for their love.
(3) Preserving Unity Within the Body of Christ in the Bonds of Love
1 Corinthians 1:10 — “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Brethren in the Corinthian ecclesia had become disunited and fragmented. They became carnal in their thinking instead of spiritual. The result was that their growth in Christ had become stunted. Paul pleaded with these dear brethren to become one again. The goal was that they should strive to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” How can we apply this today? We ask some introspective questions:
Do we perceive the body of Christ as we look at our brethren? If we maintain this perspective, it will affect how we deal with our brethren and what service we feel necessary to provide to them.
What should be done in the face of disuniting influences? The answer is simply — we oppose such forces in the spirit of truth and love.
Philippians 4:2,3 — “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life.”
These two dear sisters had a problem with each other. The problem is not stated, but it was necessary to subjugate it to the love that must obtain between members of body of Christ. Paul encouraged them by noting their common commitment to the Gospel and their hard work with the apostle.
What should be our response when we see enmity between brethren? It should be like Paul’s — a deep desire to unite them in love. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). We should not undervalue the importance of unity within the body!
2 John 5 — “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.” As Jesus did, the apostles often beseech us to love. John here reminds his reader that the commandment to love is not new. It has been the requirement from the beginning.
Romans 16:17 — “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” This is an important reminder that divisive behavior is not to be tolerated. Our love for others in the Body of Christ may inhibit us from speaking when it is needful to speak. Paul indicates here that unity in the Body of Christ is essential. Disruption of this vital unity proves hurtful to brethren. Marking those who divide is an action of love, not an action of hate. The removal or reduction of close and intimate fellowship with those who are divisive make such more aware of the blessings of united fellowship and bring them back into unity with the body.
2 Corinthians 2:8 — “Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” The individual to whom Paul asked brethren to confirm their love was the one described in his first letter as committing unspeakable immoral acts. He had been disfellowshipped for that behavior, but had fully repented and needed to be received back with full love.
1 Thessalonians 4:9,10 — “As touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more.” Our love needs to be dynamic, always looking for further expression within the fellowship of saints. James wrote that faith without works is dead. The same can be said of love!
Philemon 9-11 — “Yes, for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:” Deep love means we come to the aid of any brother or sister who needs help, as Paul did for Onesimus. If we see brethren who need help, especially if they are being unfairly treated, we should come to their aid. We have few defenders in this world. It should be different in our fellowship.
(4) Submission to and Cooperation with Those Active in God’s Service
1 Corinthians 16:15,16 — “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.”
It is not natural for the fallen flesh to submit to others. Nevertheless, Paul beseeches the brethren to submit — follow the instruction — of those who are engrossed in the ministry of the saints. The King James version uses the word “addicted.” This word is used for less than wholesome things in this age of perversion. However, in this case brethren were addicted to serving brethren. We can render submission to those who show themselves immersed in consecration and resultant service to the church. This is good for two reasons. First, it is clear from the depth of their consecration that God is working powerfully in and through them. We can tap into that by submitting it. Second, by submitting to them we can participate and contribute to the work of the Lord.
Galatians 4:12-16 — “Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I, therefore, become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”
Paul observes here the depth of their love, devotion, and service to him. Seeing that Paul had a problem with his vision, they would have plucked out their own eyes for him! That level of submission and cooperation is pleasing to God and is an example for us.
1 Corinthians 4:16 — “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” How interesting that Paul should “beseech” us to follow him. Paul says elsewhere, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” In the church there have been many outstanding Christians who set a dynamic and forceful example of walking in Christ. We cannot help but follow them if we ourselves walk in the footsteps of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
(5) Appreciating God’s Tender Guidance, Grace, and Care
2 Corinthians 5:20,21 — “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin [a sin offering] for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We live in a thankless and uncaring world that can discourage us. We must not allow these negative factors to blind us to the extraordinary lengths God has taken to bring us to righteousness and to Him.
2 Corinthians 6:1 — “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” The grace of God is manifest in many ways, but one chief grace is righteousness, also known as justification. This scripture teaches that we can receive great blessings from the Heavenly Father, but if we do not move in the direction that grace encourages, it will be in vain. We would be grieving the holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
(6) Recognizing the Spiritual Warfare We Are In and the Need to Walk Holy
2 Corinthians 10:1-6 — “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
We are at war! As war requires special preparations and training, so we must live, not carelessly, but with the awareness and determination of soldiers. The enemy will not relent, but constantly looks for weakness and encourages compromise. We can only win by untiring vigilance and persistent resolve. If we let down our defense, we may suddenly find ourselves compromised.
Paul defined the character of our war as spiritual. The battleground is in the mind. The evil influences of this world challenge us on the principles of righteousness, holiness, purity, and cleanliness. Consider some of the assertions of the world that are diametrically opposed to godly principles:
- Homosexuality is a legitimate alternative lifestyle and any other thinking is hateful.
- Abortion of a fetus on demand is simply a woman’s right to control her own body.
- If a marriage is not working and is producing unhappiness, the couple should have the right to dissolve the relationship and seek out someone else that will truly bring them happiness.
- Sexual relationships outside of marriage are simply following natural inclinations and are nothing to get upset about.
- Drunkenness is nothing more than letting off a little steam.
- Recreational use of marijuana use should be one’s own private concern and does not affect anyone else.
- Man is nothing more than an advanced animal and should be free to make up any code of behavior he wants as long as it does not affect anyone else.
- God is an old-fashioned concept to be abandoned by educated people.
These ideas pervade our world. If we are not careful, they could infiltrate our thinking. We combat these spiritual attacks by continuing our devotion to God and our constant study of His Word.
1 Peter 2:11 — “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” This is another reference to our war. Again note the context of fighting the war of the mind — in this case against desires of the flesh.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 — “We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” We are representatives of Jesus on earth and are a spectacle to men and angels. So our daily walk ought to be managed to please God in our words, actions, and thoughts. If we are devoted to our consecration vow, this merits our full attention.
(7) Doctrinal Stability
2 Thessalonians 2:1,2 — “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming [presence] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
The hope of God’s Kingdom has been a source of joy and excitement for God’s people from the beginning of the Gospel Age. In Paul’s day, the desire for it outran the reality of its future establishment. For some, this produced wrong expectations and discouragement. Paul was not being discouraged by telling brethren that the Kingdom was not yet at hand. He was bringing them back to the reality of God’s plan that had much yet to unfold.
God’s Kingdom now is at hand, since we live in the time of Jesus’ presence. But in these last days there are many details that must work out. Therefore we, too, must be patient, not letting our hands slack in the work of the Gospel, neither running ahead of what God has for each one of us to do.