We’ve been examining all the repeated lessons in the New Testament, the ones the writers felt needed a rerun because they were that important. Usually we look at the passage in context. This one we will take squarely out of context. The message still works and it is rerun again and again, in every context imaginable. We obviously need, as the passage says, reminding.
Some of the Corinthians were still having difficulty accepting Paul as an apostle. In this short verse he reminds them of what should have been obvious: We both belong to Christ. That should have had an impact on them when they considered what he was telling them and how they received him. Don’t you judge the motives of a brother differently than anyone else? You ought to because you know he has sworn allegiance to the same Lord as you, the one who demands a lifestyle that abhors sin. He isn’t a pagan. And that kinship creates an instant bond no matter where you may run into one another.
This lesson has been taught in the scripture since the beginning. The fact that Cain killed his own brother made that murder even worse. When Lot and Abraham began having difficulties, Abraham came to him to work things out. It shouldn’t be like this, he told Lot, because, “We are brethren,” Gen 13:8. When Moses saw the two Hebrews fighting he said to them, “You are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?” Acts 7:26.
Yes, if we are brethren, if we both belong to Christ, it should make a difference in how we treat one another. Peter goes so far as to say that obeying the truth should have the effect of producing in us not just cold, formal love for each other, but an intense and passionate love, one that never pretends. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1Pet 1:22. If I do not feel that way about my brothers and sisters, he seems to be saying, then maybe I haven’t really “obeyed the truth.”
John agrees. He says if we do not love our brethren, we are in darkness and in death; that we are liars and murderers, 1 John 2:9-11; 3:14-19; 4:20,21. Christ died for us all. If he loved me that much, he loved you that much, too, which means I should love you that much and you me. We are instantly bound together in the same emotional context of gratitude and wonder and unity.
I know, I know. You’ve heard these “love” lessons all your life. When you hear another starting, you almost sigh and roll your eyes. “Again? What else is there to say?”
Nothing. It’s a rerun, but it’s a rerun found in nearly every book of the Bible. That means it’s worth our hearing again. And again. And again.
Unless you think you’ve already got this one whipped?
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:2-3.