I am blessed to be a big brother. I was about to turn 6-years-old when my sister was born, but I still remember the joy I felt then to know I would have a little sidekick through life’s ups and downs. Our shared experiences have created a bond that uniquely belongs to the relationship of siblings, and I can’t imagine my life without her.
I am also blessed to be the father of two girls and a little boy. One of my greatest joys is to see the joy that they share in one another. Even though our boy is only a year old, it’s obvious that he finds a unique delight in his big sisters. I can’t help but think that the bond of siblings is God-sent.
When writing to his protégé Timothy, the Apostle Paul instructed the young man to treat older men and older women like fathers and mothers and to treat younger men and younger women like brothers and sisters (1 Timothy 5:1). Timothy might have been an only child, but his church family provided endless opportunities for experiencing the mutual blessing of having brothers and sisters.
More specifically, Paul tells Timothy to “encourage” these people like brothers and sisters. When siblings function as they should, they encourage each other through life. They are the first to come to the other’s aid and to pick each other up. They are the first line of defense against threats and dangers. They know best how to correct and challenge the other when necessary. They share their struggles with one another and keep secrets that no one else will ever know. They celebrate each other’s victories, but they also share in the hurts and disappointments of the other. They know each other’s imperfections and failings, and in spite of knowing the other so well, they continue to love and encourage each other. They get mad at each other, and they forgive each other. They share laughs, tears, hugs, and memories.
Christians have historically been known for calling fellow members “brother” or “sister.” The Bible shows, however, that these are to be more than titles. They are to reflect a way of life in our relationships. No matter what physical family you come from, the church should be where anyone can experience the blessings of family. Just like physical families, church families are often messy, complicated, and far-from-perfect. But we should continue to encourage one another. Why? Because we’re family.
Make today and everyday a happy day for your spiritual siblings. Be blessed by them, and be a blessing to them.