Simply put, “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). “Brotherly love” is a very special type of love. It is so special that the Greek speaking people of the first century distinguished it by using the term “phileo”. This was separated from other types of love such as “eros”, “storge”, and “agape”. God absolutely demands that Christians have “brotherly love” for one another. John indicated, “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23). That commandment to which John referred is found in the Gospel Account According to John. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
The world should be able to see the fruit of “brotherly love”. It should shine forth so abundantly that there is no doubt that Christians care deeply one for another. Whether it be financially, physically or emotionally, Christians should be ready to express their love. Paul explained, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Likewise, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Further indicating the great need for “brotherly love”, John also wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7). Also, “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Sadly, there are times when brethren do not love as they should. Not only does this hurt each other, but it also causes the church of Christ to have a negative reputation in communities. Honestly, how many people are going to want to be a part of a group that cannot be loving toward each other?
We should diligently do our parts to ensure that “brotherly love” does indeed continue. John explained, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (1 John 4:20-5:2). Paul warned, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5:13-15).
Where do we fit in regards to “brotherly love”? Do we harbor ill feelings that we will not relinquish? Have we such disdain for our brother that we will not even speak to him? Have we convinced ourselves that we are okay living that way? Maybe it is time to be brave enough to practice the “golden rule” (Matt. 7:12). I should be as loving to my brother as I would want him to love me. Sometimes loving our brethren is demonstrated the strongest when we discipline our erring brethren. Contrary to what some may believe, church discipline is a great act of love. James wrote, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). So, let us end as we began. “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1).
~ Corey Barnette