I love my family; they love me, encourage me, and help me to grow. I love my church family; my brothers and sisters, both in my local church, out on the streets, and those overseas. They love me, encourage me, and push me to fulfil my calling in Christ. We were made for relationship, and we were made for fellowship. Right from the very beginning, God created us to be in relationship with Him, and He also created us to be in relationship with one another.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” [1 John 4:7]
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What does it mean to love with a brotherly love? The Bible describes it in a number of ways:
- Hold no grudges [Leviticus 19:18]
- Take in the stranger [Leviticus 19:34]
- Go the extra mile without resentment [Matthew 5:41-42]
- Love others as ourselves [Matthew 19:19]
- Love others as God has loved us [John 13:34-35]
- Build up one another [Romans 14:19]
- Seek the good of others [1 Corinthians 10:24]
- Bear each other’s burdens [Galatians 6:1-2]
- Be patient [Ephesians 4:2]
- Be kind and forgiving towards others [Ephesians 4:32]
When I look at these instructions, the selflessness of brotherly love stands out to me. This is not a love that focuses on what I can receive, but a love that is kind, forgiving, gentle and patient. It is a genuine care for another person, a looking out for them, and a desire to see them blessed. It is a love that comes from knowing the undeserved and abundant love of God given to us. He loved us when we were still sinners, and died for us. So now, we lay down our own lives for the others for whom Christ also died.
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Blessed by Encouragement
A word of encouragement can go a long way. I remember many times when someone has blessed me simply by telling me “well done”. It has spurred me on to stand confident in Christ, to serve more faithfully, to be bold and to persevere.
Encouragement stirs up faith. It confirms the calling God places in our hearts, and it demonstrates love. It reminds us that we are running a race, and it is the cheer that keeps us running, that helps us to get up when we stumble. It is the friend who runs alongside us, who helps us to keep up our stride.
How do we encourage? It might be through simply being there, it might be through the testimony of our own lives, and it might be a word intentionally spoken to build up a brother or a sister. The Bible shows us the power of encouragement through a spoken word:
It builds up and comforts others.
[1 Thessalonians 5:11] – “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
It fights anxiety and depression.
[Proverbs 12:25] – “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad.”
It operates in grace and forgiveness.
[Ephesians 4:29, 32] – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers… And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Encouragement has the power to change the way a person views, and runs the race of life.
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Blessed by Insight
We learn through discussion, teaching, rebuke; the condition of our heart, our strengths, and our weaknesses. We mentor and are mentored, share and listen to testimonies from others, and in all of this, there is revelation of God.
I love hearing others share their experiences. They remind me about aspects of God’s character I may not see as clearly, being in another life circumstance. I appreciate the iron-sharpening discussions I have had with others; opportunities to hear a new perspective on things and possibly transform my mindset.
It is the blessing of insight from my brothers and sisters in Christ that has helped me journey through some significant moments in my Christian walk such as determining that the workplace is a fertile mission field, growing in what it means to love the family of God in the church, and being persistent in praying for those who do not yet know Christ.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” – [Colossians 3:15]
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Blessed by Companionship
Fellowship is a blessing; to be able to share and grow and walk together in life. It is the comfort of having someone there with us, and it is something God knows we need. He made Eve so Adam wouldn’t be alone, He clearly states His desire that we would be with Him in eternity, and He commands us to love one another. The church in Acts demonstrates the blessing of fellowship and companionship.
“Now all who believed were together and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” – [Acts 2:44-46]
These believers had joy in meeting together, sharing together and helping one another. We bless through companionship when we take time to spend with others. We share a meal, share a story, share life with one another. We are present and in being present, we encourage one another and minister love to one another.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – [Hebrews 10:24-25]
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I am so thankful for all the spiritual brothers and sisters God has surrounded me with in His family. They have blessed me immensely through their love, their encouragement, their insight and their companionship. I thank the Lord for them all, and I am also encouraged to intentionally love others more. My brothers and my sisters are my family in Christ.
May Article for Christian Today: Spontaneity and persistence in the pursuit of God