Someone may ask these questions: What if I just don’t feel like loving my brother or sister in Christ? I know I should have love for you, but I just don’t. You know, we are very different. We are from very different places. We have very different pasts. We have very different interests in our work and hobbies. Etc.
This is like the husband and wife who went to the marriage counselor and told him they wanted to get a divorce. The counselor asked for their reasons, to which they replied that they don’t love each other anymore, to which the counselor replied, “then you need to repent of that and start loving each other again!”
Ok, but perhaps one needs to ask themselves: Is there something in my heart that is preventing me from having the brotherly love I should have for my brothers and sisters in Christ?
Truly, there are some enemies of brotherly love. They are roadblocks to brotherly love that we must overcome, and we can overcome them. Following are some to name a few.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Selfishness is a roadblock to brotherly love. How can I love my brother if I’m concerned only with my own ambitions and interests? Christians have and show a concern with the interests and the needs of their brothers and sisters.
Philippians 2:3-4, just quoted, certainly applies, but consider also Romans 12:16: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Pride and conceit are great enemies, for the prideful see themselves “above” others and others “below” them. This attitude is a barrier to an attitude of appreciation and good will, care and concern, consideration and encouragement, and brotherly affection. On the other hand, being humble, or little in our own eyes, contributes greatly to the giving and receiving of brotherly love.
Indifference is like a slow poison. It produces a lethargy that’s a real downer to any relationship, whether it’s employees at work or citizens in a republic. How much more so is this insidious attitude destructive among brethren? “Having then gifts according to the grace that is given us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness….Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:6-8, 10-11). This is a picture of brotherly love, and its qualities are diligence, liberality, fervency, and enthusiasm. The opposite, indifference, is nowhere to be found in these examples of brotherly love. Let us rid ourselves of indifference.
Anger, Bitterness, Malice, Hatred, and Un-forgiveness
These are five peas in a pod. They are kissing cousins who are enemies of brotherly love. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Brotherly love cannot thrive, yea even exist, in an environment of bitterness, wrath, malice, unkindness, and un-forgiveness. These must be replaced with tenderheartedness, kindness, and forgiveness, just as God has been toward us. Let us check our hearts for these bitter enemies of brotherly love, and rid ourselves of any trace of them.