The love that family members should have for one another should teach spiritual brothers to never harm one another but to appreciate, help, and encourage one another and to reconcile our differences.
In a home for disadvantaged boys, one of the younger boys was lame; so older boys often carried him. One older boy was asked if carrying the younger boy was hard to do. He responded, “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”
This expresses the love and concern family members ought to have for one another. Families help one another when they are sick, injured, or elderly. We put up with things that we might otherwise find very hard to do. “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”
God’s people are spiritual brothers and sisters.
Galatians 3:26,27 – We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. When we believe God’s word and are baptized, we come into fellowship with Christ and become children in God’s family. (Acts 2:47)
Matthew 12:50 – Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Everyone who truly submits to God becomes part of God’s family, the church. This makes us children of God and brothers and sisters to one another.
Our care for one another in this spiritual relationship is often stronger even than our care for our physical family (Matthew 10:34-37).
The purpose of this study is to consider some lessons we should learn from the fact that we are spiritual brothers and sisters.
In these studies we seek to provoke one another to love and good works despite the challenging circumstances facing us. Consider the good work of loving and caring for our brethren.
“He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.” How does this apply in our relationships with one another?
Brothers Love One Another.
Why did the older boy say, “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother”? Weighed on a scale the young boy would weigh the same whether or not he was a brother. But love for a brother made it easier for the older boy to bear the burden. So it was enough of an explanation to say, “He’s my brother.”
Likewise, the fact that we are brothers in Christ ought to teach us to love one another.
Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue.
1 Peter 1:22,23 – …in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again... Being born again by obeying the gospel makes us members of God’s family, so we ought to love the others in the family.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 – But concerning brotherly love … you yourselves are taught by God to love one another … But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more.
Parents teach their children to love one another. Likewise, our spiritual Father also teaches us to love our spiritual brothers and sisters.
1 John 4:20,21 – If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
If we love God, we will keep His commands and love the other children of God (5:2,3). If we don’t have this love, we don’t really love God!
Biblical love is devotion or commitment to the wellbeing of others. It does not mean we like everything they do, but we are always committed to their good. This is how God loves us (4:7-11).
Do you find caring for others in the congregation to be a frustrating burden? If so, your love needs to grow. “He ain’t heavy.” Why? Because “he’s my brother,” and brothers love one another.
(2 Peter 1:7; Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 1:22,23; 2:17; 3:8; 1 John 2:9-11; 3:10-17; Philippians 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:2; Philemon 16)
Brothers Respect and Appreciate One Another.
Brothers Appreciate One Another and Rejoice When Good Things Happen for One Another.
Acts 15:3 – As Paul and Barnabas told churches about the conversion of the Gentiles, this caused great joy to all the “brethren.” When a family has a new baby, this is a cause for joy! How much do you rejoice when a new child of God has been born into God’s family?
3 John 3 – For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. We should rejoice when we hear that our brethren are serving God faithfully or have corrected sins in their lives.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 – We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other. (2:13)
Do you rejoice when you learn of spiritual blessings and growth for your spiritual brothers? We’re a family! Let us appreciate one another!
Brothers Respect One Another.
All the children in a family should be important and valued. None should be shown partiality.
Matthew 23:8,9 – You are all brethren … One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Jesus and His Father are Deity and ought to be exalted as infinitely more important than we are. But brothers and sisters should not give special honors to exalt one above others.
Galatians 3:26-29 – When by obedient faith we become children of God, barriers are broken down. We are all one in Christ, all heirs of the promise to Abraham.
James 2:1-9 – Specifically, we violate the law of love if we show partiality or favoritism because one is rich or poor or based on race, nationality, education, etc.
Yes, there are differences in authority in our relationships: elders have oversight of other members, parents have authority over children, men have authority over women, etc. But each faithful member, doing his best for the Lord, is appreciated and blessed by God and ought to be valued by other members.
Do you appreciate all your brethren who sincerely strive to serve God? Are there some that you find irritating and hard to get along with? If so, remember, “He ain’t heavy. He’s your brother.”
Brothers Never Harm One Another.
Brothers who love one another should surely not hurt one another. Yet family members often quarrel and mistreat one another. Bitterness and antagonism are sometimes felt the worst within a family. Yet we know it should not be so.
Brothers Do Not Defraud or Mistreat One Another.
1 Corinthians 6:6-8 – In Corinth, brother went to law against brother before unbelievers! “You do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!”
1 Thessalonians 4:6 – No one should take advantage of and defraud his brother, because the Lord is the avenger of all such. The context refers to sexual wrongs, but the principle applies to all defrauding.
Sometimes children hurt one another, but the parents are responsible to bring justice. In God’s family, if you wrong a brother, God will avenge His child.
When you are tempted to mistreat another member, remember, “He’s your brother.”
Brothers Do Not Speak Harmfully and Unlovingly of One Another.
James 4:11 – Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. We are responsible to warn a brother who sins. But we must not spread rumors we don’t know to be true, and we must not speak with a motive of ill-will to try to hurt him.
1 Peter 3:8,9 – We should have compassion for one another; love as brothers … not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing.
Sometimes family members become incredibly critical of one another. They may fuss over things of little or no significance. Or they become angry at others when they are just as guilty as the others. If someone is really wrong, we need to help them. But first we should be sure we are not guilty. And be sure we act for their good, not their harm.
If other brothers mistreat you, we will see there is a pattern for resolving differences. But nothing justifies seeking personal vengeance on a brother. Do not return evil for evil.
Do you sometimes find a brother or sister difficult to get along with? Remember, “He ain’t heavy. He’s your brother!”
(3 John 10; James 5:9; Romans 14:10; Matthew 5:22; 7:3-5)
Brothers Seek to Avoid Causing Other Brothers to Stumble.
Sometimes family members don’t care when they harm one another. Kids may decide what they want to do, ignoring the harm caused to others.
Matthew 18:6,7 – Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
Sometimes brethren disregard the fact that their conduct leads other members to sin. They may think, “If bro. X doesn’t like it, that’s his problem.”
The fact is, we are “our brother’s keeper.” Christ died to save that brother or sister. If my brother sins or is spiritually harmed by my act, that is my problem too. Brothers should pick one another up and even carry one another if needed. Surely we shouldn’t cause one another to fall!
“He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”
(Romans 14:13,15,21; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13)
Brothers Help One Another.
In our opening story, the older boy assisted the younger boy simply because he was his brother and needed help.
Brothers Help One Another with Their Needs.
Acts 11:29 – The disciples determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. Brothers help one another.
1 John 3:16-18 – Jesus laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Christians are responsible to help members of our earthly family when they have needs (1 Timothy 5:8), but Christians are our spiritual family. We should be willing, according to our ability and opportunity, to help anyone in need; but we have a special responsibility to spiritual brothers (Galatians 6:10).
(Matthew 25:40; James 2:15f; 2 Corinthians 11:9)
Brothers Are Hospitable to One Another.
Family members naturally tend to visit in one another’s homes. The children in our family love to get together. But brothers and sisters especially open their homes to one another in times of need. So Christians should use their homes to help their brothers in need.
Acts 28:13,14 – When Paul was a prisoner traveling to Rome, some brethren invited him and his companions to stay with them for seven days. Christians used their homes to help their brethren in time of need. This is the essence of Biblical hospitality.
3 John 5 – Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren. Brethren were traveling to preach the gospel, and other brethren provided for them as they traveled.
Obviously, no one has unlimited resources, so we should use our abilities wisely. But when another Christian is in need, remember, “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”
Brothers Encourage One Another to Do Right.
Family members help one another learn and practice what is right. If they see a brother doing something harmful or dangerous, they talk to him and help him do right.
Brothers Should Strengthen and Encourage One Another to Serve God Faithfully.
Hebrews 10:24,25 – Provoke one another to love and good works. Exhort one another.
Acts 15:32 – Judas and Silas exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.
Acts 16:40 – When Paul and Silas were released from prison, they encouraged the brethren.
Family members want other family members to have useful, profitable lives, so they do what they can to encourage one another. When you see another Christian who can benefit from encouraging words, remember, “He’s your brother.”
(Luke 22:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Timothy 4:6; 5:1; Hebrews 3:12,13; Acts 15:36; 18:27; 28:15; Philippians 1:14)
Brothers Help One Another Overcome Errors.
Family members especially hate to see one another make serious mistakes. If they can, they help one another correct their errors.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 – Brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak.
James 5:19,20 – Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
The most serious problem any brother could have would be to sin and be lost eternally. Surely you don’t want that. Brothers warn one another when they see serious error occurring.
Galatians 6:1 – Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Yes, this includes chastising brothers who do not repent. Discipline is a family responsibility.
1 Corinthians 5:11 – Paul instructed us not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, etc., not even to eat with such a person. (Matthew 18:15-17)
Some folks think families should always be pleasant and happy, but unfortunately there are times when family members do wrong. Some congregations overlook sin and allow a brother or sister to continue in sin. Earthly parents who love their children discipline them when needed (Proverbs 13:24). In the same way, ignoring sin in God’s spiritual family shows a lack of love.
Families have to deal with such problems. Why? Because they love one another. The church is a family. Dealing with the sins of another member can become troubling and burdensome, but remember, “He ain’t heavy. He’s your brother.”
Brothers Seek To Reconcile Their Differences.
We always wish that family members get along well, but in practice it often does not happen that way. Brothers need to learn to resolve their problems. The same is true in the church.
Brothers Must Discuss Their Differences.
Luke 17:3,4 – If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. When people sin, we must confront them and show them where they are wrong.
Matthew 5:23,24 – If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. If we have wronged a brother, we must be willing to admit our error and change.
Genesis 13:8 – When Abram had a conflict with Lot, he said, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, for we are brethren.” To avoid strife, Abram and Lot had to physically separate; and sometimes that is necessary today. But Abram let Lot take his choice of the land to live in. In personal preferences we should be willing to sacrifice our own desires for the sake of peace.
Philippians 2:2 – Fulfill my joy by being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
We must never compromise God’s will or cooperate with acts that hinder the salvation of the lost, but some people refuse to compromise even their own personal desires for the sake of peace. When problems exist in a congregation, the Father’s will must prevail. But always remember that you are dealing with people who are your brothers.
Brothers Are Willing to Forgive One Another.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
Luke 15:32 – When the prodigal son repented and returned, the older brother was still angry with him. The father explained that they should rejoice, saying: your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.
When we really love our brethren, we rejoice when they determine to change and do right. We willingly forgive and encourage them to be faithful. We do not continue to hold grudges.
Matthew 18:21-35 – Peter asked how often we should forgive a brother. Jesus said till seventy times seven. Then He told of a king who forgave a servant of great debt, but that servant then refused to forgive one who owed him a small debt. So the king then refused to forgive the first servant. This is how God will treat us if we do not forgive our brother.
C.S. Lewis said regarding the statement “Hate the sin but love the sinner”:
“For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it.” – C.S. Lewis
Aren’t you like that? I surely am. I would like to kick myself about the stupid, disgusting things I have done. But I still care about myself and seek my wellbeing. Why can’t we do that for our husband or wife or children or parents, and in particular for our brothers and sisters in Christ? “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.”
1 John 5:2,3 – By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (2 John 5,6)
To our shame, we don’t always act in a brotherly manner toward one another, do we? When we fail, we show we don’t really understand what it means to be brothers and sisters in God’s family. Family members often need to carry burdens for one another (Galatians 6:2). This may be difficult, but it is much easier when we love one another as brothers.
“He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.” Do you think of other Christians and treat them like brothers ought to act?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2020
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