Brother to sister (and vice versa) love appears to be complicated.
Yet when Jesus commands us to love one another, He didn’t just mean brothers express love to brothers, and sisters just love the sisters. He meant “love everyone.” In this context of brother and sister, I mean brethren in the household of God.
We can’t deny that the “Brotherly love” between a brother and sister can channel off into another kind of “love” that will hurt one or both parties. (We’ll talk about it down the discussion.)
If we are to love as Christ commands, how can a sister and brother show true love for each other? Is it even possible for brothers and sisters to love each other without strings attached?
Let’s find answers to these questions by learning from a perfect role model. Love personified. A Man who the Bible clearly states sisters… and brothers who He loved.
In John 11: 5, we read “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”
He loved them all. But his expression of love differed when relating with Martha and Mary vs Lazarus and John the beloved. He knew there should be an extra variable in His love for these sisters in Christ. Paul mentioned that variable when admonishing his son Timothy: Treat “…younger men as brothers, elder women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 5: 1, 2)
Note that after addressing his relationship with younger women, Paul added one more instruction – with all purity. Like one Christian writer stated, Timothy’s relationship with older men, younger men, and older women are slightly different from his relationship with younger women because naturally younger women and younger men often create bonds that go beyond the relationships they can have with other types of people.
Now, let’s go learn from our Role Model. What characterized the love that existed between Him and his sisters/female friends?
Love with care, not carnality:
Jesus’ love flowed from honest care for these sister-friends. He cared enough about their welfare to come to visit them where they lived – her house. (Note the emphasis – not in a room alone with Mary.) And what they discussed during His visit wasn’t some empty nothings that could fuel the flames of lust. Luke 10: 35 said Mary said at His feet and heard His word. The word of life that cannot be taken away from her. He cared enough to weep with them when their brother Lazarus died.
“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained,” C. S. Lewis wrote.
If you truly care about your brother/sister, you won’t give room for your gifts, conversations, or interactions with him/her to lead her on… or stir up carnal desires in him/her. Let the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love lead.
Love from the heart, not hands:
Boundaries existed in the physical display of love by Jesus. In John 21: 20, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper…” That disciple was John. But you don’t read that Mary or Martha leaned on Jesus’ bosom. True love flows from the heart, not from loads of physical touch.
Love with sacrifices without selfishness:
On the Sunday morning of Jesus’ resurrection, some women marched to His tomb to anoint His body. Mary was there. Imagine leaving your house in the cool of the day, when others still clung to their beds, all because of a supposedly dead friend. What a sacrifice for love. But note, she wasn’t doing it because she expected something in return. Or because she wanted Jesus to notice and develop a special interest in her. Remember, they all thought He was dead. Even when she stayed back at the tomb weeping, the last person she expected to have a conversation with was Jesus. She made all that sacrifice from a heart of true love for this friend.
Do your actions of love flow from a place of sacrifice, or do you have some selfish interest at heart?
What can you let go for the sake of love?
When we talk about dressing modestly – the emphasis is usually laid on sisters, but yes, it applies to brothers too – what’s your reaction to it? Do you turn your head to the other side with excuses like “why should I adjust my dress sense because of someone else’s weakness?”
Here is how love responds: “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” (1 Corinthians 8: 13)
As you relate with your brother and sister in Christ, build your love on this:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth