The relationship between siblings has been called “the longest bond.” It normally
lasts longer than any other relationship we will experience in life. But, it’s the strength, not just the length that makes a sibling relationship special. Expressions like “closer than a brother” and “he is like a brother to me” touch us because we know something of the usual devotion and loyalty of one brother to another.
“Brotherhood” is something much stronger than just “association.” Brothers stick together. They stand up for each other. Protect each other. Take care of each other. Even when they disagree or squabble, the relationship trumps the disagreement.
All of that is background for the Bible’s use of “brotherly love” to describe the relationship that Christians share. Those who have, through Jesus, been adopted as sons and daughters of God, have the same Father. We are siblings. And that relationship is truly a long bond; it will last forever. So, it’s not surprising that Peter insists that believers develop brotherly love as one of the Christian traits to “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).
When my brother and I were young, we occasionally fought. OK, so it was more than occasionally. Our mother would often bring us together and make us say “I’m sorry” and hug each other. Oh, how I hated that! At the moment, I was sorry only that we got caught and that I had gotten beat up. I was just angry. I wanted to hit my brother, not hug him. My mother wanted to remind us, though, that even bloodied and fuming, we still shared a relationship too important to give up.
It’s not easy to say “I’m sorry” and hug someone who has hurt you. But, it’s what Christians are called to do to live out God’s virtues.
It’s not easy to love someone who is being annoying (so my brother tells me). But, it’s what brothers - and mature Christians do.
It’s not easy to forgive a brother who has thrown you off the back of a motorcycle in front of a girl you wanted to impress (as a hypothetical example). But, forgiveness is part of brotherly love.
Do you have brothers with whom you have a strained relationship? If so, your Father wants you to get together, say “I’m sorry” (and mean it), and hug each other. The longest bond must be honored.