“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The writer of Hebrews said: “Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1). John writes: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). Also, in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Paul writes: “…abound in love to one another and to all.” Jesus and His apostles command us to love one another. John explains that loving our brethren is a sign that we have come from death into life. God gave us this love when we turned to Him, and now He is waiting – no, He expects us to grow and to become more complete in this. We are to use this gift from God like the man in the parable of the ten talents did.
Love for our brother or sister is “brotherly love.” In order to have a good relationship with our brothers, this brotherly love is necessary. If we love one another, we will always be friendly and willing to help one another as much as possible. Through love, we are to serve one another. How wonderful is this service in love! Love lightens burdens, makes the difficult tasks easier, and softens many unpleasant things in life.
Cain said: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) He was one of those cold-hearted individuals who had no concerns and did not worry about his brother. Cain probably thought: Let him look after himself! Many people think as he did.
Yes, we are our brother’s keeper. We are to protect him from injury and false rumors. We should feel responsible to protect his good name and reputation from all attacks. If we love him as God requires of us, then we will be a true friend in such times.
When someone began running down a pastor at his friend’s place, this friend admonished him: “I know this pastor is such a good person that without convincing evidence, I would never believe he is guilty.” Brotherly love was what resulted in this brother taking such a stand.
That is how this love will act in every instance. If we love our brothers, we will defend them against each slander until the accusations are either proven to be correct or incorrect. Love trusts our brother unless he becomes unworthy of our trust. Love does not let him fall prey to false accusations or evaluate him as lesser because of small mistakes.
Our friends love us in spite of our mistakes, and not because we have none. If we love our brother, we excuse his mistakes and love him because of his good character traits. I see only goodness in my faithful brothers and do not focus on their weaknesses, of which I am aware. I love them because of their faithfulness and devotion to the Lord. They are my dear brothers because they love God.
Brotherly love is the result of salvation. Baptism with the Holy Spirit makes us complete in love. In this state, we can love our neighbor or our brother “as ourselves.” “Love does no harm to a neighbor…” (Romans 13:10). The many admonishments in Holy Scripture for us to love one another should not be taken lightly.
There may be brothers, whom we love and appreciate, who complain about another brother. A situation like this bothers us because we are unable to find a justifiable basis for this lack of respect and worthiness. When we analyze the situation, we often find that misunderstandings and mistakes have occurred, but they are not as traumatic as we had been told.
Often there are differences of opinion concerning doctrines or other things. However, later it becomes known that the brothers in question have ignored or have forgotten some things, thereby committing an error. Such occurrences may be dealt with without forfeiting the holy gift of brotherly love.
The Lord Jesus said that in such situations we should: “… go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15). If you then go to him and put your arm around him in true brotherly love and tell him how you feel about his behavior, you can correct everything. If you miss this opportunity and keep the thorn in your heart and tell others about this mistake or the unjustified action of this brother, no one is helped. The results are confusion and outrage. This difficult situation could have been resolved in a few minutes after a short discussion with the brother. Through this, many frustrations and bad feelings could have been avoided.
Why not choose the correct way? What gives you the right to let bad feelings come between you and your brother? When brothers know that such alienation exists between them, they should immediately rid themselves of this so that the brotherly love remains pure and without fault between them.
To maintain the oneness of the Spirit through the bond of peace, we must be alert. If brotherly love is destroyed, nothing binds us together in oneness and peace. Our hearts must be joined to each other in love, otherwise separation is the final result. A life close to God will help us maintain brotherly love. Small differences of opinion will vanish.
Pastors should be an example in this, as in all other things. Brothers and sisters, let us “put on love.” “He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14). “… if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).