Farmville Enterprise October 18, 2017
Before the days of the minivan or the SUV many families in the United States traveled for a summer vacation or holiday break in the iconic station wagon. In our family, we would set out from Maryland for New Hampshire or Ohio or even Colorado in the evening, after Dad got a good dose of caffeine. He would drive all night. My older brother, the one who still avoids conflict, slept on the middle seat. My younger brother and I slept in the back of the wagon, with an imaginary line that divided “his” territory and “mine.” Whatever happened on those trips might have been conducive for my older brother to become a solo carpenter and my younger brother to become a philosophy professor. Fortunately, we have enjoyed positive relationships and have stayed in touch despite living in different states. Both of them try to treat people fairly plus they share an enthusiasm in their storytelling which makes them a lot of fun to be around. I’m glad they are my brothers.
At a graveside service Wednesday I was touched by a woman who had just lost her husband. Her brother, “her rock,” was there with her. The affection they have shared has been evident most of their lives. That night her brother called to reiterate his love and remind her to let him know if she needed anything. It was so sweet and made me feel especially sorry for people who have become estranged from their siblings.
Today there was a post by a dear man whose brother was one of the first responders at the attempted prison break in Elizabeth City. There were confirmed fatalities but families whose loved ones were involved faced hours of not knowing who was okay. You can imagine the relief that this brother felt when his housemate/little brother walked in the door. The families of Veronica Darden and Justin Smith could use our prayers.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) The Greek word for love here is “philadelphia” and has to do with kindly affection. Throughout Scripture the relationship between siblings is held up ideally as a naturally special and affectionate one. This love is not limited to biological siblings, but extends to sisters and brothers in the faith.
John Gill, an English Baptist and biblical scholar in the 1700’s expounded on Romans 12:10 and how we should be dedicated to the brethren. “Now love to these should be kind, tender, and affectionate, reciprocal and mutual; such should love one another; there should be no love wanting on either side; and it ought to be universal, and reach to all the saints, though of different gifts, light, knowledge and experience, or whether high or low, rich or poor; and should show itself by bearing one another’s burdens, bearing with, and forbearing each other, forgiving one another, and by edifying one another in their most holy faith, and praying with, and for one another.”
In the parable of “The Sheep and the Goats” Jesus talked about the Son of Man coming in his glory and the King separating the sheep to his right and the goats to his left. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
If you currently have an unresolved conflict with a sibling or a brother or sister in Christ, please consider taking a step towards reconciliation. Family is one of the greatest gifts we have been given.