By Michael Gilbert
August 20, 2006
One of the great things about the Lord’s House, the blood-bought church of Christ, is that we are a family (1 Tm. 3:15). Not a physical, flesh and blood family, although we are in the flesh, but rather, a spiritual family. The same deep, abiding love that we have for our fleshly family should be as strong, if not stronger than our deep love for our closest relatives. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…” (1 Jn. 3:1).
It is hard to comprehend the love that God the Father has for His children. We are privileged to be called the sons of God and children of God even though, in the past, we may have been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, drunks, revilers, and/or extortionists (1 Cor. 6:9). Yet, in His magnificent loving attitude, He has given us the opportunity to be in fellowship with Him. And if we are in fellowship with God, then we are in fellowship with one another. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). Unfortunately, Christians don’t always act like they care for one another.
Brotherly love is not an option among Christians. If one member is sick and hurting, then we should hurt also. If one member has lost a loved one to death, we should grieve with them. Brotherly love is not seeing one another at the church building, shaking hands and saying, “how are you?”. Brotherly love is not going to the funeral home to see a brother or sister in Christ, then leaving, not to think about that person again for a week. The type of love that we as a spiritual family should have for one another is described in 1 Peter 3:8.
Peter describes that love as having compassion one for another. Compassion is not just saying, “I am sorry this has happened to you” and then going along on your merry way. Compassion sees a need and that need stirs up deep feelings within the individual to the point that he/she desires to help the one in the unfortunate situation. Let us take a closer look at the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-36).
A man was traveling along a road from Jerusalem to Jericho and he “fell among thieves”. These thieves brutally beat the lone traveler after stripping his clothes from his body, then left him alone to die by the road. Two men came by who offered no compassion. The third, a Samaritan, came to the place where the man lay and “had compassion on him”. How? The Samaritan “went to him, and bound up his wounds”. Stop just a minute Mr. Samaritan! Those thieves may still be around and you can’t risk your own life to help this man! Also, what if that man has a terrible disease? Are you going to take a chance on getting his blood all over you? No, these things did not stop the Samaritan from helping out this total stranger. The Samaritan saw a terrible situation and feelings were stirred up within him. These feelings of compassion caused him to take of his own personal resources (the church did not pay for it!), use his own animal, and take the wounded man to an inn to care for him.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we are to do this for total strangers, then does this help us to understand true brotherly love?