On Caring for Our Brothers
THE “GIANTS OF THE FOREST” have a distinct characteristic that enables them to survive even strong high winds.
Well-known to forest dwellers and hunters as Redwoods, the Sequoia trees in California, some of which are said to have lived for more than 2,000 years, are strikingly very steady and enduring. Like other sturdy species of trees, Sequoia trees are commonly found in the vicinity of water systems like rivers and creeks. But distinct from other trees that usually sink their roots to a depth proportionate to their height, Redwoods, which tower above the earth at tremendous heights, send their roots outward to intermingle with each other. Collectively, these trees make a shatterproof stronghold, enabling them to weather all kinds of destructive winds.
By working together as an aid to each other, we, people, also achieve strength that braces us to endure the various ‘typhoons’ in life. The Holy Book pertinently explains the disadvantage of working solo: “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him” (Eccles. 4:9-10, Today’s English Version).
For the Church to be presented worthy before the Lord on His Second Advent, we individual members likewise need one another to be able to safeguard our holy calling to serve the Lord. While it is true that our election as God’s children gives us the right to attain salvation, he who “roams around like a roaring lion” (I Pet. 5:8) isjust waiting at the door always ready to tear it from our grip and steal it away,especially today that“he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:12). In a single moment, we can lose our hope for salvation—as one moment of “leaving the castle door unguarded” can invite a merciless attack and invasion from the enemy, hence, from Satan (I Pet. 5:8).Sturdily therefore, we must protect our right to serve the Lord with every ounce of energy we possess.
In doing so, we must not stand guard alone. We need ‘fellow warriors’ at our side—companions who can help us to watch our ways, to pray for us, to encourage us, to guide us, to walk with us, and to consistently remind us of what we have believed in since we joined God’s nation.
These are precisely some of the benefits true Christians can get from the brotherhood Christ founded among members of His Church (Matt. 23:8), from the appointment of Church officers God willed in the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12-16), and especially from the [leadership] God placed in this Church (Col. 1:25, 28-29). By getting together with our brethren, intermingling with them, especially as we all participate in the Church’s endeavors in the Lord’s service (I Cor. 15:58; I Tim. 6:18-19), we are strengthened, encouraged, and our faith increases. As the Church officers “devote themselves to the ministry of the saints” and “work and labor” for us (I Cor. 16:15-16, New King James Version), we, members, are reminded and guided in our ways. And as the Church [leaders] “watch over [our] souls without resting” (Heb. 13:17, TEV) and warns and teaches us in all wisdom (Col. 1:25, 28-29, NKJV), especially through the biblical instructions we receive during worship services, we are provided with guiding principles that serve to check and balance the way we conduct our lives, and hence, keep safe our precious privilege to enter God’s kingdom.
However, as we all need spiritual support from others, we should understand that others also need the same thing from us. Life on earth can be extremely difficult. Some of our brethren may be nursing deep, deep wounds that need to be healed. Some may have been bruised in one way or another and are thus secretly hurt and intensely distressed. Now and then, some encounter frustrations in their personal and professional life. There are those who lose their jobs and consequently lose self-esteem as they face the next morning to look for a means to live. Some feel inadequate, yearning for the affection and understanding of their loved ones. Sometimes, people reach a crisis in midlife, or feel that their being a father or a mother is a complete failure, or in the case of children, they have been a disappointment to their parents. Some brethren, on occasion, are disturbed and stricken by various disasters and calamities, natural or otherwise.
In all these cases and more, the brethren involved need the caring support of their fellow Christians, to offer them comfort in their pain and encouragement in their struggle to find healing. Supporting a fellow Christian may mean holding and comforting one when sorrowful memories reappear, such as the painful details of a valued relationship gone awry. It may also mean affirming a burnout victim in his apprehension about making a career change. Sometimes, it may mean sharing, not just our resources with someone in need, but also our sympathetic tears with somebody who helplessly watches his loved one die of an incurable disease. In other words, caring for fellow Christians means being concerned and doing everything we can to save them from weakening in the faith, as they experience tragedies in life.
This is the way the brotherhood built by Christ in the Church works. Not only can this brotherhood do much to help us recover from the wounds in our hearts, but it can also help us achieve our noble aspiration to remain in the Church until the end. Hence, as God equips, admonishes, strengthens, and encourages each of us, we must also do the same to one another. Wholeheartedly, we must support and guide one another in “pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” and in “keeping the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Tim. 6:11, 14). Together, we must allow the word of God to live in us (I John 2:14), that hand-in-hand we may be able to “fight the good fight of the faith” and “take hold of the eternal life to which [we] were called” (I Tim. 6: 12).
Through a listening ear, a wise advice, a helping hand, a pat on the back, an arm around the shoulder, or a concerned nudge in the right direction, we must not hesitate to show our brotherly love towards one another—especially to our brothers and sisters in the faith who may also be our brothers and sisters in the flesh. Like Joseph the son of Jacob, we must not nurse grudges against our siblings, let alone feel vindictive against them; instead, we must provide them at least some moral support and comfort them as much as we can when they are in need (Gen. 50:15, 18-21).
Cain’s question recorded in the first book of the Bible still echoes down the hallway of mankind’s history. When asked by God about the whereabouts of his brother Abel whom he slayed, Cain answered back defensively, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:8-9).
But, was he not? In fact, never should his question be framed rhetorically, for the answer to it is a resounding “Yes”. Of course, we are our brothers’ keepers!
For all times, all of us are our brothers’ or sisters’ keepers—we are all answerable to God for how we treat our siblings, and our brethren in the faith!
1. What are the disadvantages of working solo?
2. What does the article say concerning the value of brotherhood?
3. What are the ways to show our brotherly love towards one another?