Our brother! He stands before us, like ourselves, made in the image of God, an heir of eternal life, and a beneficiary of the blood of Christ; and our love should reach out to him with all of the emotional thrust of which the heart is capable.
Like me, he is compassed with infirmity, may suffer constant pain, is tormented by temptations, pressed with the cares of life, frustrated and defeated in many of his fondest hopes, seeing those eternal realities which he so passionately desires to believe, as through a glass darkly, being oppressed daily by the confusion and darkness that becloud man’s mortal journey, and caught up like all other people upon the escalator of time moving him inexorably to the terminus of his pilgrimage.
Yes, but immortal too, destined to live forever in joy or in remorse, needing our encouragement, our love, our aid at every step of the way, standing to benefit by our loving prayers, and to be strengthened by the handclasp of our brotherly affection.
Who can withhold his love from a brother?
Only the reprobate (1 John 2:11).
And who is my brother?
Not him alone who belongs to my little circle, but the “stranger,” as taught in the next verse, that man we may never have seen before, but a man in extremity, needing love and compassion in a world that has little of either, such a man as that befriended by the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33) – and all this, of course, is but another way of saying all people.
This verse teaches three things:
- (1) that the Hebrews addressed here had such love of the brethren.
- (2) that it is God’s will that such brotherly love should have been continued.
- (3) that there were manifestly some dangers that it might be permitted to wane.
All kinds of things can cause brotherly love to fail.
Differences of opinion, selfishness, conflicts of interest, lack of personal association with brethren, an awareness of sins in others more than consciousness of our own sins, spiritual pride, vainglory, ambition, love of ease or luxury, and just about every other state or inclination of the natural man; but it is the glory of the Christian faith that love of the brethren will surmount every barrier.
If the disciples truly love one another, the resulting fellowship will be such that people shall desire to break into it, as contrasted with a communion appealing to them by persuasive argument alone, into which, if they enter at all, it is with reluctance.
In the Manhattan Church of Christ, an elderly lady had attended for years, sitting unmoved through many an invitation, but she at last decided to be baptized; and, discussing her motivation which led to it, she spoke of several things; but then, with a tear, she spoke of another Christian lady who was her friend and frequent companion, saying, “Yetta holds my hand when we cross the street!”
Ah, there it was.
The factor that turned the scales of destiny was outgoing love and concern for one person on the part of another.