How Do You Treat Your Spiritual Family?
Volume IX ~ Issue XXVI ~ March 22nd, 2009
By: Brian A. Yeager
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Sometimes it seems that Christians forget why they refer to their fellow saints as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are a family, brethren (Ephesians 3:15). We are the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). As such, we are expected to behave in a manner of brotherly love (Hebrews 13:1). That love is expected to be sincere [unfeigned] (I Peter 1:22), not pretentious.

Brethren should first be concerned with the souls of each other. We should be doing all that we can to help one another reach the ultimate goal of eternity in Heaven with our Lord. Yet, sometimes there is a lacking affection, which hinders saints from aiding one another (Romans 12:10). Sometimes there is a lack of willingness to be longsuffering with our brethren (Ephesians 4:2). To be clear (sadly, I have to add this statement because many look for ways to err and continue fellowship), being longsuffering does not mean overlooking error (Romans 16:17-18), maintaining fellowship with error (II John 9-11), unconditional forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4), etc. That being said, again, we must be willing to work with the saints to aid them in their salvation.

Brethren, I have seen a disturbing thing over and over again among “brethren”. There are some who act as though they joy in the failures of their brethren. We are supposed to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34-35; 15:12). Our Lord does not want anyone to perish (II Peter 3:9). Therefore, our love of the brethren should demand that we do all we can to help them be saved in the end. If this means working to convert one who has erred, then we must put in that work (James 5:19-20). However, some seem so willing to be content with their brethren going to Hell. They show this when they are willing to say nothing when their brethren err. They show this when they allow the weak to wither away and fall from the faith. They show that they really do not care about the souls of their brethren when they will allow bad feelings to evolve into grudges. Is this the type of love we are to imitate from what we’ve seen in Christ Jesus our Lord? Absolutely not! So, how do you treat your spiritual family?

Think Hard Now About How You Treat Your Spiritual Family!

I heard an older sister in Christ talk about the “holidays” (specifically Thanksgiving). She smiled as she talked about the time she gets to spend with her children and grandchildren. She said, “it is a great time for me because I get to spend time with my family”. I wonder if we all look at time with our spiritual family in the same manner. Do you open your home to your brethren or accept their invitations when they open theirs for you? Christians spent time together in the first century (Acts 2:46) and we profess to follow in those examples. Are you a liar (Revelation 21:8)? We are supposed to be a hospitable people (Romans 12:13 and I Peter 4:9). How can we profess to treat our brethren properly, if we are more interested in time with our carnal friends and family than with our spiritual family? How can we exhort one another daily if we do not even know how to get in touch with each other (Hebrews 3:13)? Do you love your brethren as fellow saints of the same household?

I once noticed that a sister in Christ rolled her eyes every time one of the brethren spoke up in class. When asked if there was a problem, she began to be defensive with that “mind your own business” attitude. When there is a problem among brethren, it is your business (I Corinthians 12:25 and Galatians 6:1-2). Moreover, one CANNOT worship God acceptably if they have an unresolved problem with a brother or sister in Christ (Matthew 5:23-24). Brethren, how can any one of us think we are acting brotherly or sisterly if we are allowing ourselves to be at odds with one of our brethren? Especially, how can we be “okay” if we are doing nothing to resolve those differences? We cannot do things such as partaking of the Lord’s Supper together if we are not united. The Lord’s Supper is a communion [fellowship], which requires us to be UNIFIED [as one] to partake of (I Corinthians 10:16-17). True brethren will work out differences immediately rather than letting those differences stand between them. All manner of division between brethren is wrong (I Corinthians 1:10; cf. Romans 12:4-5). Remember, the command is:
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matthew 18:15-17).

We briefly discussed being longsuffering with our brethren (Colossians 3:12). I want to spend a few minutes capitalizing on that point. Remember, as we discussed, we are not talking about overlooking sin when being longsuffering. However, there are many times in the lives of Christians where they have erred because of ignorance (not a willing ignorance – Romans 10:1-3). Sometimes brethren forget to ask: “do they know that is wrong”? Apollos was one who taught false doctrine in ignorance and was more than willing to correct his errors (Acts 18:24-28). I have seen people jump the gun and consider discipline before even teaching the one in error. Teaching requires a willingness to be longsuffering (II Timothy 4:2). Brethren, we must first try to teach rather than purge. This does not mean we excuse ignorance (Acts 17:30 and I Peter 1:13-16) or wait till tomorrow to teach the erring one, we must act diligently with a sense of urgency (Proverbs 27:1; 5) so that the erring is not lost if they die or the Lord returns before they repent. Sin, willful or not, carries an eternal consequence (Ezekiel 18:20-24 and Romans 6:23) which we should never allow to be possible in the lives of the ones we claim to love (Revelation 3:19). Here’s the point, why don’t we first assume that our brethren have erred in ignorance, are willing to be taught, and will repent; rather than assuming they will rebel and not consider the truth?


“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (I Peter 3:8-9).