1 Peter – Chapter Three XII

by Ed Urzi

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8 ESV).

Virtually everyone recognizes the importance of family loyalty. For instance, business professionals typically help their sons and daughters begin their careers. Politicians assist their relatives. Parents leave an inheritance for their children. Nevertheless, this emphasis upon family loyalty extends beyond biological or adoptive bonds.

For instance, sports teams, enthusiast groups, and alumni associations often share a family-like connection. Even mobsters and gang members look upon fellow members as “brothers.” If these associations are valid for those individuals, then the same should hold true among the members of the Christian community as well.

However, even the closest of family members will surely encounter differences from time to time. Those differences have the potential to occur within a church family as well. For instance, we may live with an irritating family member. The same may occur within a church family, too. Some family members may disagree with an authority figure within their family. That may also happen among the members of a church family.

For better or worse, biological families and church communities often share the same family dynamics. For example, some members of our church family might interact with us in unexpected ways. We might draw an unanticipated response from those whose experience differs from our own. There may be generational differences in communication styles. Some may be more or less mature, and others may hold attitudes or viewpoints that differ from our own. However, these realities do not negate our responsibility to maintain brotherly love and work to get along with one another in Christ.

The Biblical book of Romans tells us, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV). This passage reminds us that we must sometimes subordinate our interests for the benefit of others. There may even be times when wisdom requires us to minimize our interaction with certain individuals in order to maintain the best possible relationship (see Acts 15:36-41 for an example).

However, we should remember that love always seeks another person’s highest good from a Biblical perspective. As we’re told in the New Testament epistle of 1 John…

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.” (1 John 4:20-21 NLT).