We know why we should “walk like a brother” here on earth, so how do we do it? First, look at the Life of Jesus Christ on earth. He is our greatest Example of how to walk like a brother. Everything He did and said was in obedience to His Heavenly Father. How can we be excellent in our walk with each other if we aren’t walking in obedience to our Father? I need to stop doing everything I’m doing “for” God if I am not first obedient “to” God.
What is the world’s #1 problem today? Disobedience to God. It started thousands of years ago when Adam and Eve disobeyed God – and we are still dealing with it today. Disobedience to God is our number one problem. All other problems we face stem from that root. We will always fight with that problem because of sin. Sin is deep in our spiritual genetics and causes us to wander from God. God’s Grace brings us back.
The first step in walking like a brother, is being an obedient child of God. That means listening to God and doing what He says. God speaks to His children in three primary ways: through His Word, through His Spirit, and through His people. The Bible contains thousands of direct commands and insights into God’s Will for our lives. How can we possibly hope to obey Him if we don’t know what He’s already said? Everything we need to know about walking successfully in this life is written in God’s Word. God places His Spirit in everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and is saved. The Holy Spirit goes where we go, hears what we hear, and speaks to us continually along the way. The Spirit of God guides us as we listen to Him. He leads us into all Truth. However, Christians can grieve and quench God’s Spirit by their disobedience. If we do not hear the Spirit, we are missing out on guidance and encouragement vital to our mission on earth, including walking like a brother. God also speaks to us through other believers. He has given every Christian multiple spiritual gifts that are beneficial to the spiritual health of other believers. God speaks through the giftedness of His children as they serve Him and the spiritual and physical needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. So, it is vital in walking like a brother to obey God’s Word, respond to God’s Spirit, and use our giftedness to serve God and others.
One of the major issues we face in the Church today is our lack of commitment to one another. It was first expressed by Cain after he killed his brother Abel:
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9
Cain had no remorse about killing Abel. He took no responsibility for what he had done. Cain lied to God and asked a question fundamental to the problem the human race has dealt with since that time – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Search history and you will find the resounding and overwhelming answer to be – “NO !” Most people do not see themselves as being a brother-keeper. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. A phrase we often hear is “man’s inhumanity to man.” It’s not just the terrible things people have done to each other – it’s also that they don’t care. What is foremost in the hearts and minds of so many people is – “me.”
I spent decades as a journalist and interviewed hundreds of robbers, rapists, child molesters, and killers. I also spoke with the victims of those crimes and their families. What do I remember about them? Victims and victims’ families were devastated by crime – their lives would never be the same again. What did criminals feel? Nothing. Victims cried out – “how could they do such a terrible thing to me?” Most criminals denied doing anything wrong, and those who did admit to their crimes thought nothing of it. You could hear them saying – “am I my brother’s keeper?” Criminals do not take responsibility for their actions. Most care only for themselves. Those who were sorry, were sorry they were caught. The lack of concern for the welfare of others and utter selfishness is what I remember about meeting criminals.
God answered Cain immediately and said three things: you are a liar, you are responsible for your brother, and you will suffer for what you’ve done.
“And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” Genesis 4:10-12
Cain’s response is exactly what I’ve seen and heard from people who face justice for their crimes: “And Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear!” Cain was not concerned that he committed a horrible crime against his brother. Cain did not care that he cut his brother’s life short by hundreds of years. Cain had no thoughts about the devastating loss that Adam and Eve felt about the crushing loss of their 2nd born son. The only thing on Cain’s mind was that God’s punishment was more than “he” could bear. It was all about Cain.
That, I believe, is also the big problem Christians have in walking like a brother. We have not caught the vision of God’s Heart for people. We often think only of ourselves and how everything that happens affects “us.” It’s the same thing that has torn apart the American family. Selfishness. Self-centeredness. It’s all about “me.” It’s a battle we all fight and a battle we must win if we are ever to love God deeply, follow Jesus faithfully, and obey the Spirit completely. That is our goal as Christians, but we have so much to overcome in reaching it.
Step 1 in walking like a brother.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.”
That’s the why of walking like a brother. If we are loving God as we should, we will love most what He loves most and that is people.
Step 2 in walking like a brother.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
That statement, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” gets to the root of how we walk like a brother. We look at other people and love them as much as we love ourselves. Take any situation in your daily life, look closely at someone else, and ask this question – “how would I want to be loved?” You can ask that of your husband, wife, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, neighbors, fellow Christians, students, teachers, employer, employees, homeless, store clerk, enemies, anyone. How would you want to be loved in the same situation? Is the answer to your question different than what you’re doing now? The answer to that question will give you the steps to how to walk like a brother.
Another way to explain this is to take ownership of your responsibility toward other people. It is NOT somebody else’s job to love the people God has placed in your life. It’s your job. God gave it to you. Your husband is your responsibility to love. Your wife is your responsibility to love. Your children are your responsibility to love. Don’t give that responsibility to someone else. The same is true in other relationships. If we want to love God deeply, we need to love people as He loves them. If we want to follow Jesus faithfully, we need to love people as He loves them. If we want to obey the Spirit completely, we need to love people as He loves them. Loving people is not an option for Christians. It’s what we do. It’s how we live our lives. It is what God commands.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17
Do you view any of these verses as “requests” from God? If so, look again at your love for Him. Notice that in all but one of these verses Jesus uses the word “command” or “commandment.” In the other verse, Jesus says “I say to you,” which is the same as a direct command from God. A command is not a request – it is an absolute. This is what God demands that we do with our lives. To do anything less is to directly disobey God. That’s sin. Do you think that’s a bit harsh? Unfair? Asking too much? That’s just another way of asking God, “am I my brother’s keeper?”
Just as Cain was focused only on himself, we have that same tendency. Our sin nature pulls us toward selfishness every minute of every day. So, how do we fight against our nature? What do we do to walk like Jesus walked and love our neighbor as ourself?
Please join me again next week as we look at the practical, daily steps we must take to walk like a brother.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”