Have you ever gone overboard in brotherly love?
Posted by Steven Sarff
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Rom 12:10 ESV)
Perhaps you remember those gophers (Mac and Tosh) on the Bugs Bunny Cartoon show who were so polite to one another. It seemed that they would never climb the tree or go down the gopher hole due to their insistence that the other one go first. (“After you…”, “No, I insist, after you….”) Can you imagine two Christian brothers trying to outdo each other in showing love like that? Whether to one another, or to another brother, this would be a great thing to behold. Of course, it would be great as long as they were not doing it in a competitive manner and changing the motive from “showing honor” to “tooting one’s own horn”.
For sure, the danger in serving God, and one another, seldom is the danger of going overboard in such an effort. It seems that we are more likely to look for an opportunity to get by with the minimal amount of effort possible. Time and money are the only two ways I know of for showing honor to another brother.
Barnabas a good example of Brotherly Affection
The effort it takes to show brotherly affection develops slowly in some people. Others, have it very naturally. Barnabas seems to be such a person. Three examples in his life show his desire to outdo others in showing brotherly love.
First, he sold land to help others. (Acts 4) Some have speculated it was a burial plot, others that since he was not in Cyprus that he didn’t have a need for it. In either case, he removed his concern for things in the world by selling something he had and then he brought the money to the Apostles for the distribution to saints in need.
Second, he took Saul of Tarsus to the Apostles after his conversion and told them how he had changed. (Acts 9) When others did not want anything to do with Saul of Tarsus, he took a risk and showed a brotherly affection to one who may have imprisoned some of his family or friends.
Third, he stood up to help John Mark, a young disciple who needed a 2nd chance. (Acts 15) Mark had left Paul and Barnabas on their 1st missionary journey and Paul was not inclined to give him such a chance. Barnabas did and it was many years later that Paul agreed that Mark had changed.
The challenge for the rest of us.
For the rest of us, we swim upstream against a society that doesn’t understand brotherly affection the way God wants it. It is easier to just give up and fit in by belonging to groups of our friends and ignore those on the outside. However, Christians need to stick together and be able to cross boundaries that the world insists are normal. Christian brother affection must cross racial boundaries, it must cross political boundaries, it must cross University boundaries (If you have a favorite college sports team, you know what I mean by that!) and it must cross social status boundaries.
If I could instill one thing in the youth today, so that it would not be a problem as they move into adulthood, it would be this: Social status such as “Jocks”, “Cheerleaders”, “Geeks”, “Nerds”, “Wannabes”, “Gothic”, and a dozen other descriptions meant to divide must, Must, MUST be conquered when it comes to fellow Christians. If it is “social suicide” to be seen with a fellow Christian from church, just because he or she is some outcast to your friends…then prefer the Christan brother to your “of the world” friends. In so doing, you will let your light shine.
This is part of the adding brotherly affection to your faith that Peter tells us to do. By adding it, we assure ourselves that we will be fruitful and effective Christians in His service.
Question: What are some ways you have seen the world’s boundaries ignored so that Christian brotherly affection can continue?
Photo credit Sitcomonline.com from Google images