We live in an age which is marked by a lack of human compassion. This is seen in the fact that today one out of three marriages in our country ends in divorce. People who supposedly married out of mutual love, caring, and compassion, now find it impossible to live with each other. Also, newspapers report to us a world full of violence.
The Christian, however, is never separated from love. His all-powerful God is always near to help him with His loving hand. The Christian is also a member of the body of Christ. As such he experiences brotherly love.
In the first place, what is brotherly love?
We must know what love is because, as the very name implies, love is an essential element. Love cannot be found in the world of the reprobate. The wicked give in order to receive again. The reprobate also do not have the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Because of this, they can act only according to their human nature which is to hate God and their neighbor.
To learn what love is we must look to God for God teaches us what love is by sending His only Son to suffer and die for us. God did this not on the basis of foreseen works, but only out of His sovereign grace. God also knew that the most precious gift He could give would be despised and rejected by us, finally being put to death on the cross. God also sent His Son knowing that we, of ourselves, are not able to give anything good in return. Love, therefore, is the giving of one’s all even when knowing that nothing will be given in return.
Now that we know what love is, we must know who our brother is. Our brother is more than our neighbor who is anyone we meet along life’s path. Although we do enjoy the company of a brother, he is not merely him with whom we have a good time, for reprobate men also enjoy each other’s company. But just as physical brothers share the same physical father, our spiritual brother is one with whom we share the spiritual Father. This Father is, of course, our God in heaven, who has adopted us to be His sons through Christ’s blood.
Secondly, why must we love our brother?
Most importantly, to love our brother is a command of Christ given in John 15:12 where we read, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” We should also love our brother to make our calling and election sure. Brotherly love, through the grace of God in our hearts, is a good work. Reprobate men cannot do good works, therefore, when we bear the fruit of good works we know we are numbered among the elect of God.
Finally, how do we love the brother? As a brother in Christ we will admonish our brother if we see him walking in sin. We do not, however, admonish with an attitude of pride. Rather, we admonish with a humble heart in service to God knowing that while he walks in sin, our brother cannot experience the love of God and the joy of salvation. We also love our brother all the time. We do not wait until we are not busy or have had enough sleep. But when the brother is in need of help, we help.
We, however, are still subject to sin. By nature we are proud, and self-centered. But our human nature can never be an excuse for sin. Then let us humbly ask God that He might grant us the grace to love our brother as we should.