Summary: How does God want us to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ? (Material adapted from Bob Tinsky's book, A Christian Is... God's Answer to Man's Question, chapter 4, pgs. 55-65)
On the playground one day, some girls were insulting an adopted girl. Finally, the adopted girl responded and said, “My parents chose me. Your parents got stuck with you."
Many of us have brothers and sisters. We did not choose them. They became our brothers and sisters because we have the same father and mother. Did not chose them, we just are.
God is our Heavenly Father if we are Christians. Every Christian is a part of the family of God and this means that all Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ.
We did not choose our spiritual brothers and sisters any more than we choose our flesh and blood brothers and sisters. Carl Ketcherside was fond of saying, “Wherever God has a child; I have a brothers.” There are some people in the church we may disagree with, have difficulty getting along with but we need to remember that we are still brothers in Christ. We have the same spiritual Father and are part of God’s forever family.
Brothers or brethren are common terms used in the NT to describe Christians. Often sing “The Family of God” one verse says this- You will notice we say “brother and sister” round here- It’s because we’re a family and these folks are so near; When one has a heartache we all share the tears, And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.
Know of a man who had a large family and as he and his wife were getting older he would have a family reunion with all the children. At one point during the reunion the father and mother would ask all the extended family and friends to leave and they would have a private conversation for about 30 minutes. My father in law was there and asked what they talked about during those 30 minutes. Patriarch said that he reminded them that they were family and that when he and their mother died he did not want any fussing but to always be a loving family.
Thesis: How does God want us to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ?
We are to treat all our brothers and sisters as equals
George Sweeting makes this comment: “No single factor has so limited the church down through the years as man’s inhumanity to man- sometimes outright cruelty, but far more often, sheer lovelessness.”
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28, NIV.
Wait a minute, I am an evangelist, I am an elder, I am a deacon, I can lord it over others. No, “not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3, NIV.
We are not to look down on our brothers and sisters or judge them harshly. “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10, NIV.
One day a balloon salesman at Disneyland was filling his balloons with helium. A little black boy watched him fill a red balloon, tie it off, and then let it go soaring up into the California sky. The man filled a green one and let it go.. then a blue one. The little fellow tugged at the man’s pants and asked, “Mister, if you filled up a black one, would it go up too?” “Sure, son,” the man replied. “It’s not the color on the outside of the balloon that matters. It’s what’s inside that counts!” All are equal in the Heavenly Fathers sight.
We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ
“To live above, with saints we love, that will be glory. To live below, with the saints we know, that’s a different story!” Sometimes it is difficult to love some of our brethren.
“Keep on loving each other as brothers.” Hebrews 13:1, NIV.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10, NIV.
“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:14-16