Brothers – just who is my family?
“A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13 v 34
From the beginning of recorded time there has been the eternal question about individual responsibility for another person’s life. Cain asked “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4 v 9) Cain already knew what had happened to his brother Abel because he was the one who had caused his brother’s death.
God responded, patiently, “… the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Gen 4 v 10) After a short time in paradise, this episode of inhumanity has been repeated and reflected in different ways throughout the history of our planet. Each day, without fail, there is some dreadful action that deteriorates the life of another human being. Each time any one is treated with inequality the whole family, all of humanity, suffers in some way.
We are personally admonished to never tire in doing good things (2 Thess 3 v13), and to those that do not join in the efforts to unite humanity we must not alienate them but “admonish … as a brother.” (2 Thess 3 v 15). Our relationships must stay strong as we look out for each other and help each other to achieve the best possible situation in life.
We have been given a new commandment: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13 v 34). These words need serious contemplation, and after each of us have thought it through we need to practically apply the action of love as Jesus has shown and directed. We are to do as He did. (cf John 15 v 12, 17; Matt 7 v12)
The question may still be asked “But just who is my brother, sister, family?” The Jews referred to all men as ‘brethren’. This includes strangers and neighbours. The story of the Good Samaritan addresses this query extremely well ( Luke 10 v 29-37). Matthew 22 v 39 also reminds us that we are to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” The care we should have for ourselves is the same care we must extend to our neighbour.
Christ Jesus Himself is referred to as a ‘brother’ to all He saves (Rom 8 v 29) (cf Matt 12 v 46-50). In times when adversity strikes our lives we rely on our family, on our brethren (Prov 17 v 17). With Jesus as a brother we can be assured that we will safe and loved.
In the simplest of terms we can acknowledge that as we have all descended from a common ancestor then we are all brothers. We are from the same root, we are part of the same living tree: humanity. Therefore, if one person suffers, we all suffer as a consequence.
So the question ‘Who am I responsible to today as my brother, sister, or my family?” can be answered very easily: any man, every man.