the Ministry of Meekness

Continuing to read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we arrive on pages 95-97 at his description of the ministry of meekness that Christians owe to one another:

Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him. He remembers the ambition of the first man who wanted to know what is good and evil and perished in his wisdom……Because the Christian can no longer fancy that he is wise he will also have no high opinion of his own schemes and plans. He will know that it is good for his own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbor. He will be ready to consider his neighbor’s will more important and urgent than his own.
Finally, one extreme thing must be said. To forego self-conceit and to associate with the lowly means, in all soberness and without mincing the matter, to consider oneself the greatest of sinners. This arouses all the resistance of the natural man, but also that of the self-confident Christian…..There can be no genuine acknowledgment of sin that does not lead to this extremity. If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. My sin is of necessity the worst, the most grievous, the most reprehensible. Brotherly love will find any number of extenuations for the sins of others; only for my sin is there no apology whatsoever. Therefore my sin is the worst. He who would serve his brother in the fellowship must sink all the way down to these depths of humility.

emphasis added

compare this to Jesus speaking to his disciples in Mark 10:

42 q And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles r lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But s it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [4] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be t slave [5]of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but u to serve, and v to give his life as a ransom for w many.”


3 Responses

  1. Does “brotherly love” extend to non-believers? I’m having the hardest time of my life. What is coming out is all filtered through my frontal lobe but the stuff on the inside is spewing. I know pride is at the root of my problem. I just don’t know how to yank the root up.

  2. No. Brotherly love is for brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Neighbor love, on the other hand is for everybody.

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    “who is my neighbor?” any and every stranger beat up on the side of the road.

    Neighbor love is harder. Brotherly love is our calling card to the world.

  3. I guess I’m in the clear, then, because I don’t like myself very much either. How does that fit with pride? Idk.

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