"Master, Speak To My Brother"

On one occasion, when Jesus addressed his disciples and others, a certain listener interrupted, saying, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12.13). This man evidently had been listening to the words of the Savior without personally applying a thing spoken. He apparently felt that he had been unjustly treated with reference to “the inheritance,” so he wanted Jesus, who came “to seek and to save” lost souls (Luke 19.10), to intercede on his financial behalf.

Herein we obtain an insight as to why the word preached does not profit some hearers. They do not listen as in view of eternity. They do not give the rapt attention of one who knows he is hearing heaven’s message to lost and dying, eternity-bound souls. They do not listen with the attitude that “I can personally apply and profit from these truths.” To the contrary, they listen, while thinking to themselves, “Brother so-and-so really needs this lesson. I hope he is listening!”

But Jesus turned the tables on this man. He did not (so far as we know) speak to the “brother.” Instead, he spoke to the one making the request. He said, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” By this reply, Jesus revealed that this was not his purpose in coming to the earth, that other things were more important, and that he was not going to be diverted from carrying out the purpose for which he came in the first place. So he then said to this man, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12.14-15).

Jesus knew that the one to whom he spoke was as guilty of sin (the sin of covetousness) as his “brother” to whom he wanted Jesus to speak. Herein we find a problem all too common — the tendency to condemn in others what one allows in himself (Romans 2.1). It is easy for one to “think more highly of himself than he ought to think" (Romans 12.3), while at the same time possessing a censorious, highly critical attitude toward everyone else. This results in mote pulling and speck picking (Matthew 7.1-5), but not in the improvement of either self or the one being critically censored.

How can we know whether or not we are like this sinner, who was so critical of another sinner? Perhaps the following statements and questions will help.

  1. I believe my brother in Christ should pray regularly and fervently. Do I pray regularly and fervently?
  2. I believe other members of the church should assemble for worship on every occasion possible. Do I assemble as often as I should?
  3. I believe others should diligently study the Bible. Do I diligently study my Bible?
  4. I believe you should be generous with your time and money to help further the work of the church. Am I generous with my time and money in an effort to further the work of the church?
  5. I believe you should be open-minded and willing to listen and change if you are found to be in error. Am I open-minded and willing to change if I am shown to be in error?
  6. I believe your faith should be strong and that you should press on in the face of discouragement and opposition. Is my faith strong and do I press on “in season and out of season?”
  7. When you differ with me I believe you should tell me before you tell anyone else and that you should seek opportunity to discuss the matter with me. Am I willing to treat you accordingly?
  8. I believe you should have read this article that I have written with a sincere and non-censorious spirit. Would I read this article with a sincere, non-censorious spirit if you had written it

Let us think soberly along these lines. When Paul addressed the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20.28), he set forth a principle that we would all do well to heed, namely this: Before we take heed to others, let us first take heed to ourselves.