That Ye be Likeminded

“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil 2:2).

Today we commemorate our 8th Anniversary as a local branch of the Body of Christ. These 8 years have been exciting and challenging. But they have not been easy. As a church we have grown not only numerically through new olive shoots, but also through ingrafting and regrafting of mature sprigs. We have also grown spiritually. Many have testified of a better understanding and obedience to the Word of God. Others have spoken of deepening in faith and love for the Lord, and of lives transformed. But our growth has not been altogether smooth. We have had casualties. We have had departures and relocations. Some of us are, no doubt, still hurting for various reasons—whether it is due to sin, failures, misunderstandings, conflicts, or simply due to parting of ways between beloved brethren.

Many of these things are part and parcel of church life on this side of eternity. It has to be so because we have been made very differently. We live under different circumstances, we have different experiences and expectations, and we are yet imperfect sinners with different degrees of spiritual maturity.

There are some kinks in our fellowship, however, which I believe we can smoothen out by the exercise of charity. It is to this purpose that I am writing this article. I write it in the prayerful hope that it might be used by the Lord to stir our hearts to the end we might be blessed of the Lord with increasing joy as a congregation as we grow in likemindedness, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

To this end, I had originally purposed to enumerate some of the controversies that a few of us who are more expressive by nature are grappling with. But as I began to write, it occurred to me that I have spoken and written about these things on numerous occasions. For some reasons, they have remained unresolved. Those who have difficulties have remained unconvinced. Therefore, I am convinced that further clarification and instruction will not make much of a difference. What is needed, it appears to me, is a reminder to all of us of our duty of charity towards one another in imitation of our Lord and King.

Consider the exercise of charity in 5 areas:

1. Charity in Communication

The apostle Paul says: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1Cor 15:33). Charity in communication demands that we speak to those we disagree with, with patience and meekness, being swift to hear, slow to speak. Raising our voice in conversation never helps resolve disagreements, but rather aggravates them. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” says Solomon (Prov 15:1). Those of us who are naturally disposed to have a quick temper or are often tempted to be impatient must especially take heed to this exhortation that we are to dwell peaceably in the midst of brethren with differing opinions. Let us remember that charity “doth not behave itself unseemly” (1Cor 13:5). That is to say: charity cannot be found only in the heart. It must be demonstrated in words and deeds. Someone who speaks harshly against another is being unloving towards him no matter what he claims his motive to be.

2. Charity of Judgement

Charity of judgement is the exercise of judging the intentions of others as charitably as possible. It is to seek to put forth the best interpretation possible for the words and actions of our brother that will cast him in the best light. This, we must practise with one another so that we are slow to condemn what is done and said by our brethren. This must be practised by the elders when interviewing members, especially when discipline is involved. We must, for example, be very reluctant to conclude that a brother or sister has deliberately lied to us. But the same charity of judgement must also be practised by members towards the elders when they cannot agree with their decisions and policies. Bear in mind, for example, that in general, many months of prayer and consideration and a lot of private admonishment and persuasion would have been exercised by the elders before they are compelled to take the next step in church discipline which involves naming an erring brother publicly.

3. Charity of Oversight

I am referring to ‘oversight’ not as in the rule of the elders over the flock, but as in the overlooking of faults. “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” says the apostle Peter (1Pt 4:8). Not only must we exercise charity of judgement in regard to our brethren’s intention, we must so exercise charity that we seek to overlook faults and trespasses against us. We are, of course, required to admonish one another in love (cf. Eph 4:1), but we must not hold the mistaken idea that we should admonish one another over everything we do not agree with or that displeases us. We should rather seek to overlook all minor faults and irritations. Let us learn to ask ourselves: “Is it worth it to bring this up? Does it really matter? Will the cause of Christ be served by my seeking to correct my brother or sister in the matter? Do I really need redress over this matter?” To this end the apostle Paul asks the Corinthians, who had sought redress for the wrong against them through the civil courts: “Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Cor 6:7).

4. Charity Towards Honour

The apostle Paul teaches us to prefer one another in honour (cf. Rom 12:9-10). Charity towards one another’s name or honour involves a refusal to gossip another person’s fault. Gossip thrives on hatred. “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Prov 11:13) and “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Prov 18:8) says Solomon. In order to build an atmosphere of love rather than suspicion one towards another, it is essential that we strenuously resist the temptation to talk about one anyone’s fault behind his back. “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov 26:20). If there is something which we say about someone else for which we would feel embarrassed if the person comes to know we have spoken about him, we should probably not say it. If we can’t say something good about our brother, it is better not to say anything. If we have to tell the person whom we are speaking to that he or she must not go back to the person to tell him what we said, it would be best not to say anything at all or we will be sowing discord amongst the brethren whether we intend to or not.

5. Charity in Truth

Charity “rejoiceth in the truth” (1Cor 13:6). Amongst other things this means that brethren who love one another often find their greatest joy in knowing that they are likeminded in the truth. Indeed, since Christian love is centred on Christ our chief joy, we find ourselves unable to love those who do not love Christ in the same degree that we would love the brethren. In fact, a benevolent love for the unconverted would compel us to seek to bring the truth of the Gospel to them.

However, it must be confessed that very often brethren in Christ would bicker with one another and fail to act lovingly towards one another because of differing conviction and opinion on what is true. This ought not to be the case, but it is a reality that has arisen out of the fact that Christian verities must be derived from the Holy Scriptures. There is only one right interpretation. However, the right interpretation is not always obvious so that two believers may interpret a passage in two different ways, and each is adamant that his view is correct. As a result, unhappy disagreements can often arise in the church.

What shall we do about such difference? Well, the first thing we should do, I believe is to make use of our Confession of Faith as a tool of unity. I have personally found the Westminster Confession of Faith to contain the most accurate interpretation of Scriptures. I believe we can safely confess together the doctrine in it. But what about areas not covered in the Confession? Well, in these areas, it is essential, I believe for us to respect one another’s viewpoints and seek to interact with one another as charitably as possible. We should not condemn one another’s view in those areas that are outside our Confession of Faith. We must not try to compel others to take our position, nor should we indeed emphasize on our differences. Charity rejoicing in the truth does not mean that where truth is at stake, charity may be abandoned. Rather, it means that we should focus on the truth we have already attained unto together (cf. Phil 3:16).


Charity never fails. As we mature as a church of the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe nothing is more needful than learning to dwell together in love. I believe that if we would learn to exercise charity towards one another at least in the areas listed above, we shall more and more enjoy a foretaste of the blessed communion that awaits us in eternity in the presence of Christ our Lord. May the Lord help us in the coming year to love one another in imitation of the Lord who loves us warts and blemishes and all! Amen.

— JJ Lim