“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
A friend of mine published her first album, featuring songs written and arranged by her, accompanied by a few more friends, who sang and played. One of her songs especially touched my heart. As my friend introduced that song, she mentioned she hadn’t seen many songs (at least in Hebrew) that spoke about love. There are, of course, songs about the Father’s love for us and our love for Him, but there are very few songs about brotherly love, if at all. What she said struck me and I suddenly realized that she was right. I have been pondering this issue for a while now, even before she introduced her song. I was at an event where we sang some worship songs at the beginning of the event, and one song was how we love the Lord Yeshua, because He first loved us. Then this thought came to mind: We can’t love each other, brother and sisters in Messiah Yeshua, unless we first love Him.
Seems kind of obvious, right? We are commanded to love one another, as the Lord Yeshua loves us. Easier said than done. Why is it then that there aren’t many songs about brotherly love? Is it perhaps because our brotherly love may be lacking? Maybe it’s easier to say we love the Lord than to say we love our brothers. In both instances, love would need to be demonstrated. We know we often fail the Lord, but He is always ready to forgive. Not so with the brethren. Perhaps, it’s easier to love those who are closer to us, or those who are easier to love. Why is it that we don’t greet every believer warmly, with brotherly affection? Why is it we can walk by people we fellowship with, serve with and even grow up with, and not say ‘hello’, and genuinely inquire how they are doing? Where has all the love gone? Did it ever really exist in the first place?
It is very disturbing to see such incidents. Yes, I, too, at times greet only those with whom I am close and those whom I know better. But, I do try my best to greet everyone, even if we have differences of opinion, or theology or if we just aren’t the best of friends. I am troubled when believers gossip and put down fellow believers. I am saddened at seeing people being regarded so highly that it creates a form of elite amongst us. Where has the love gone?
My friend’s song about brotherly love mentions “If any of us stumbles, we will restore him with the spirit of meekness.” (@aperfectheart). How often do we do that?
In order to raise each other up, in order to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galations 6:2), we must first rid ourselves of pride. The following verse reads “for if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (verse 3). Are we too proud to do that?
There is a song that I grew up with, which I remember always. It’s from “Psalty the singing song book”. Some of you may know it. Here is a clip of the song –
Make me a servant – Kids Praise 4:
It’s so easy to talk about passages like 1st Corinthians 13 and emphasize again and again that this is what love is and that we should love each other. Yes, it is a great description of what love is and yes, we should love like that. But, saying it is not enough. I believe that the love we are supposed to demonstrate towards one another has gotten cold. And, in some instances, it’s cold, it’s almost freezing. Oh, we know how to love when it comes to our friends, particularly to those who us love in return. Or, to those who are beneficial for us. We can care, help and be warm and friendly. But, when we have no particular need of someone, yes, no need, we often have a tendency to disregard them. Just like any object we might have and don’t need. Instead of treating our brethren like humans, we tend to treat them as objects; we either need them or we don’t. And our attitude towards them reflects that and it changes along with that. Instead of warmth and help and love, we get, or give, a cold shoulder and demonstrate apathy.
As those called by and who believe in the God of love, who loved us while we were yet sinners, we cannot and must not be this way. When we truly love the Lord Yeshua, His life and love in us are enable us to love one another. God cares deeply about our relations as brothers and sisters. So much so, that a man cannot bring his sacrifice before Him until he has made peace with his brother (Matthew 5:21-26).
The Lord Yeshua humbled himself and washed the feet of His deciples, even the feet of Judah, whom His knew was going to betray Him. What a love He had and demonstrated in real time! We are commanded to follow His example. Can we wash the feet of those we dislike, don’t get along with, even – hate? Once we take the towel and start washing sore, dirty, filthy feet, and tending to wounds, we learn humility pretty fast. Imagine cleaning those feet with love. How tender and caring the cleaning would be, and how precious to the one receiving. Imagine how you would feel if someone you didn’t get along with and maybe can’t stand the sight of, took a towel and washed your feet, treating them with love and care, until all the wounds were gone and they were soft and clean.
The attitude with which I come to wash my brothers feet is important. If I have resentment towards him, my face will show disgust and repulse at washing his feet, especially if they are full of blisters. But when I love my brother, through the love of Messiah Who is in me, though there may be blisters, I will want to tend to them. Here lies the difference. Lest we tend to think in a box, the washing of feet is not only physical. It also has to do with helping to remove the filth of the world which affects all of us daily, whether we are conscious of it or not. A hand on a shoulder, a word in season, a smile and an offer to come alongside, a telephone call or email saying “the Lord brought you to mind and I just prayed for you and want to know how you are” can be as much of a healing and comforting blessing as a physical foot-washing.
Love is part of fruit of the spirit (Galations 5:22). Notice the rest of the passage – “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (23-26, emphasis added).
Godly love does not seek its own glory and is not competitive. It helps us encourage one another to run the race with diligence and not to give up. When we truly love, we pray for one another and seek the other’s good. When we truly love, we reflect the presence of the Lord Yeshua in us. He is not ashamed to call us brothers. Are we?
I want to leave today you with this poem by Ruth Harms Calkin, called “I Wonder”. It touched my heart and pray that it will yours.
© Hannah Kramer
I Wonder – by Ruth Harms Calkin
You know, Lord, how I serve You
With great emotional fervor
In the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for You
At a women’s club.
You know how effervesce when I promote
A fellowship group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm
At a Bible study.
But how would I react, I wonder…
If You pointed me to a basin of water
And asked me to wash the calloused feet
Of a bent and wrinkled old woman
Day after day
Month after month
In a room where nobody saw
And nobody knew