Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Brotherly Love Looks Like

This is a challenge based on our lesson from last week:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, honor one another above yourselves.” 

Below I’ve pasted a section of Acts 20, and I want you to read it and see how much you can discover about Paul and his relationship with the Ephesus church of God… and then ask yourself:
  • “Am I behaving like Paul toward my brothers and sisters”? 
  • “Am I behaving as Paul told their shepherds to behave”? 

These questions are very important, because this text shows us exactly what it looks like to be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  This is an accountability check.

Let me set the stage for you.  This is Paul talking to the shepherds of the church.  He didn’t start this church, but he built it up and now he's going away, and he knows that he will never see them again.  This is Paul’s good-bye, but also his encouragement to carry on without him.  Examine this closely and see what Paul did (and didn’t do) and how his relationship with them is revealed in this section:

“And now, behold, I know that all of you (among whom I went about preaching the kingdom) will no longer see my face.
 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I’m innocent of the blood of all men.
For I didn’t shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock,
(Among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore:
Be on the alert,
Remembering that night and day for a period of 3 years I didn’t cease to admonish each one with tears.
 And now I commend you to God(And to the word of His grace, which is able to build up and to give the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.) I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my needs and to the men who were with me. In everything
I showed you
That by working hard - in this manner
You must help the weak& remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said,
‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive.’
 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.

I hope you can see here how much they loved each other, and how that came to be.  Paul worked hard – incessantly, night and day for three years to “admonish” them with tears.  He preached the kingdom.  He declared to them the whole purpose of God.  And all of this he did without coveting their material goods.  And then he sums it all up by saying that the whole of his work was summed up in this one statement from our Lord: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” 

That is what it looks like to “be devoted to your brothers in love,” and “Honor them above yourselves.” 

So … are you doing that this week?  


  1. Hey! I have noticed our group being more active about checking in, following up, reaching out, strengthening me this week. I have received more emails, calls, text, even visits... and I know I am trying to do the same to the others within the group. I am encouraged by it, and seeing everyone be intentional is a good step in the right direction, I think.

    It also encourages me to go out and do more. It is spurring me on to love and good works. That may sound weird and unrelated, but for me, I know I have a team behind me, checking in on me, supporting me, wanting to see me grow... and me, being a (recovering) people-pleaser I don't want to let them down. So, I've been encouraged to go out and be the best slave I can possibly be.... don't know if that made sense... (but since it's me, I'll post it anyway!)

    1. Me, too. I'm not a people-pleaser, but it is wonderful to know that even when I'm working by myself, I'm not alone in the effort.

      I've been asking around, and so far I'm learning about all sorts of brother/sister mutual encouragement going on.

      You are an awesome bunch!