Love and Hate

KEY VERSE: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he [Jesus] laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” —I John 3:16


CHIEF AMONG the assurances of sonship is our continued love of the brethren. This is stated in verse 14: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” The first requisite in loving the brethren is the recognition that we are of the family of God.

This truth was dramatically presented to the church by Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew we read of an instance where our Lord’s mother and his brothers sought to speak with him. At the time he was inside a home tightly packed with listeners, and this crowding prevented free access for his mother and his other kinsmen who were outside. An observant one saw the problem and interrupted Jesus’ speaking by an announcement: “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.”—Matt. 12:47

We can imagine Jesus’ hearers waiting for the reply to this statement. Our Lord, always watching for the seasonable time to sow a seed of truth, observed the appropriateness of this occasion to speak a great truth. In preparing his hearers to receive the lesson, he asked what at first seemed a strange question, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?”

Imagine the first reaction of the disciples on hearing this unusual query. They knew his mother and brothers, and wondered why he asked the question. They knew these words were not casually spoken for effect, no doubt. No, they revealed the deep conviction of his heart. We can well imagine the special nearness and warmth they felt for him that day, as he explained his meaning.

We, as disciples today are the family of God, and the full meaning of this truth should be imbedded deeply in our hearts. The tie that binds our hearts transcends any earthly tie of family or affection. The realization of this truth should cause us to love the brethren. But love does not come merely because we are told such should be the case. Our love for one another comes from, and is strong in relation to, our love for the Father and our Lord.

As our appreciation and love of God grows, so does our concern and tenderness grow toward those whom he has named as our brethren. If he has drawn and begotten a member of the family, leading them daily, hearing their prayers, should not we too view them in a special way? We can measure our love for God by our love for the brethren.

Our brethren, of course, stand in need of mutual encouragement, strengthening, and assistance. This is a peculiar task in which the fellow members of the body may participate. Our energies should be directed particularly toward the household of faith and be consumed in the work of uplifting them. This constitutes an acceptable sacrifice in God’s sight.

This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” (Phil. 2:17,18) May all of us indeed recognize our privileges of service, and rejoice exceedingly in our share in this offering.

Our Father has called his children from varying backgrounds and greatly differing casts of mind. We have dissimilar human frailties. The need of adjusting to each other will be ever present. It is as though our Father, as part of our development, brought together those who are naturally diverse and then said, “Now, my children, live together in love; cherish and serve each other.” If we maintain a strong love for God and for our Lord Jesus, keeping in focus the great plan of salvation and our relationship thereto, then the knitting of love between us and our brethren will be sure and firm.

If we can say that we discern and appreciate the family relationship of the brethren, then this witness of the Spirit is real and vital in our lives. If we find in our hearts a desire to be with and serve the interest of the brethren, then we have “passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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