The Give and Take of Brotherhood

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:1-10

We do not, and cannot, live the Christian life alone. There is a rich and lustrous giving and taking as we are conformed to the image of Christ and built up as His church. As brothers, we keep watch on ourselves with a check of the Spirit, and watch on each other to admonish and help. There are times we are weak and our brother is strong, and times we lean on each other to work out our struggles. By taking responsibility we assist others with theirs, with the goal of mutual encouragement and progress. The good we contribute will return in good measure as we grow together in faith. (1 Peter 2:5)

Are we doing our part both to give and to take? Are we willing to go deep, to take our responsibility in the Body of Christ seriously, or do we allow busyness and ease to keep our interactions superficial? Do we value fulfilling the law of Christ more than fulfilling our human desires?

When is the last time we were bold, gentle, and selfless enough to point out the sin and invest in the restoration of a fellow believer? How receptive and grateful are we to receive their admonition for the same? Are we eager to carry our part of a shared load, or do we stubbornly prefer the simplicity and autonomy of doing it all ourselves? Do we take time to encourage our teachers with appreciation, applications, or insight?

Does our zeal in service wane after a set amount of time or effort, do we fall to flagging energy, or will we trust the Lord for strength to do all the good He sets before us? How available are we for His spontaneous opportunities to build up, bear up, and bless? (Romans 12:10-13; Philippians 4:19)

“Blest be the tie that binds 
our hearts in Christian love; 
the fellowship of kindred minds 
is like to that above.

We share our mutual woes, 
our mutual burdens bear, 
and often for each other flows 
the sympathizing tear.

From sorrow, toil, and pain, 
and sin, we shall be free; 
and perfect love and friendship reign 
through all eternity.” ~John Fawcett (1782)

Father, may I strengthen the bonds of Christian brotherhood with humility and vitality, for others’ good and Your glory.

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