Thursday, February 26, 2009

Loving the Brethren

It seems to me that a great reminder should be flashed on the screens of every Christian connected to the world wide web at regular intervals throughout the day.  Before they check their email, surf the web, read their favourite blogs, or write one post, they need to be reminded of one thing.


Why, you might ask?

Because, they are forgetting.

The more I surf the web, the more I participate in groups online, the more I follow links to other blogs and websites, the more it becomes clear - we are failing to love.  

After all, the first and greatest commandment is this:

The Great Commandment

Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this:You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 You may wonder what I have witnessed that makes me think that we need to be reminded daily of the Great Commandments to love God, and your neighbour.  It's shameful, really.  I have seen people tear a family apart, mocking them, questioning their motives, accusing them of beliefs that run counter to Scripture, without going to them personally to find out if these things are so.  Yet Matthew 18 makes it clear what is to be done if someone has sinned against you.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you havegained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be establishedby the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

I have seen condemnation flying from the fingertips of those who think they have it all together when it comes to issues of raising children, homeschooling, curriculum, modesty, college, family business, and the list goes on.  On top of that, condemnation flies from the fingers of those who don't have it all together and freely admit it, yet feel somehow less perfect than those who seem to have it all together.  Yet my Bible tells me to consider the other guy, even the one who has it all together when I don't, better than myself.  

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

I am certainly not supposed to speak evil of him (nor am I to write things that are evil). Speaking ill of others is the result of all the arrogant boasting, jealousy, self-centered desires, and pride that James is warning against in the previous chapters and verses.  Those who inappropriately judge others break God's law and show contempt for God.

James 4:11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and  judge, he who is able to save and   to destroy. But  who are you to judge your neighbor?

If the computer screens belonging to Christians were programmed to flash the word, "Love" each time a click of the mouse opened a new window, perhaps they would learn to love, rather than hate, to encourage, rather than condemn, to bless, rather than curse.

Tim Challies had some thought-provoking things to say about this.  In a blog article entitled, Humbly Rejoicing in the Goodness of Others, Tim wrote about this very thing (Go there and read it!).  He'd been reading Finally Alive by John Piper, and it struck him that God doesn't merely require us to not kill our brothers.  He says that true "love doesn’t feel resentful when a brother is superior in some spiritual or moral way."  He explains that Cain killed Abel, not because Cain was so evil, but because Abel's goodness made him jealous, angry, and guilty.  

Tim writes, 

So what would it be like for any of us to be like Cain? It would mean that anytime some weakness or bad habit in our lives is exposed by contrast to someone else’s goodness, instead of dealing with the weakness or the bad habit, we keep away from those whose lives make us feel defective. We don’t kill them. We avoid them. Or worse, we find ways to criticize them so as to neutralize the part of their lives that was making us feel convicted. We feel like the best way to nullify someone’s good point is to draw attention to their bad point. And so we protect ourselves from whatever good they might be for us.
This is what is happening in cyber-space.  We spend too much time reading about other's lives, and when we don't measure up, we do one of two things: we avoid them.  Or we criticize them.  

There's plenty to do here at home.

What we should be doing is keeping to ourselves, taking care of our own families, our own homes, our own character flaws.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and rejoice when He allows us to be challenged by the writing of someone who is walking humbly with God.  When we read something that disturbs us, we ought to think about it, talk to our husbands about it, and pray about it.  And all the while, we should keep at the forefront of our minds the Royal Law, to love God, and our neighbour as ourselves.


  1. What a great post and definitely much needed!
    I am definitely going to think and pause before my fingers start typing to make sure that I am not guilty of being unkind, judgmental or unloving...
    Thank you for this post!

  2. Thank you for commenting, Kelly. I just started this blog, and it seems a little empty, so it's good to know that someone beyond my family has visited!

    Blessings to you.

  3. Oh Janet - when I read your comment to Kelley - I thought - wait a minute she has a blog, but then I realized this is one for a different purpose. I've been thinking of splitting into another blog, but I just can't bring myself to do it!!

    This is so true. Have you read Finally Alive? I am still working my way through it. I love John Piper's teaching and writing - but this book isn't his best, as far as style, goes. I have to re-read sections and then take time to contemplate from his perspective. However, I am enjoying the book tremendously.

    I have some thoughts that have been swirling around my brain for about week. Soon, I will be posting my thoughts with prayer. The Lord didn't bless me with eloquence - and I have no 'Aaron' - so my focus gets shifted from Him to me - and then it takes me longer to write it out.

    Thanks again for this reminder - and, hmmm, maybe you have a marketing idea! You could market something that would make the cursor blink 'LOVE THY NEIGHBOR' or make the mouse pointer thing blink 'LOVE THY NEIGHBOR' every time it is used. You could even attach an audio that would read the verse!

    Blessings -

  4. I wish I could figure out how to do it, and then market it, Camille.

    I haven't read "Finally Alive" yet, but I'd like to. I also appreciate John Piper. He's an inspiration to me.

    Blessings to you.


Remember that you will give an account for every word. Respond with wisdom and grace, please.