One of the greatest joys I have as a mother is watching my children getting along. When they share their toys without hesitation, give each other a hug without being told, or snuggle up to one another, my heart swells with pride. But, some of the greatest frustrations I have are watching my children argue over an object, cry because their sister hurt their feelings, or say horrible things to each other in moments of anger. I discipline and try to move on as quickly as possible, fearing that their arguments might last the rest of the day. In moments like these, I wish I could help them understand that what they say and how they act not only negatively affects their sibling, but hurts me as well. Their disobedience grieves me. And don’t they know that their sibling is also my child whom I dearly love?
God must also grieve when we treat His children unkindly. In fact, in Proverbs 6:16-19, Solomon writes, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among his brothers” (ESV). Out of this list, five are how we treat others, including our brothers and sisters. How much the Lord must hate it when we as sisters in Christ gossip about one another, say derogatory things, or treat each other unkindly! Yet it happens often in our churches. I hear comments like, “I can’t believe she is teaching VBS again! The decorations in her class were so awful. Surely someone should tell her she just isn’t up to par.” Or there might be little bits of gossip floating around the congregation evolving from concerned comments to hateful snippets. Are we putting others down or finding ways to discredit others, all while trying to make ourselves look better and claiming we’re trying to be the holy women of God? Remember, Paul wrote, “If anyone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who cannot love his brothers whom he has seen, cannot love the Father whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
Loving our brother is a command from God. But just like my children, when things don’t go their way, loving our sisters can be hard to do. How can we love each other when we do not necessarily feel close to our sisters in Christ or feel as if they have wronged us?
To answer that question we must go back to the word. 1 Corinthians 13 is quoted at weddings as advice to the newly married couple, but the passage was meant to teach church members how to appreciate one another, especially to those with different gifts. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” How often do we arrogantly approach other women who are different from us? Are we patient with those who don’t do things the way we want them done? Do we insist on our own way? Do we harbor secret jealousies of others and cause rifts in our relationships? Do we rejoice with others when we should? The solution may seem simple, but what joy it does bring into our own church family when we simply get along! And how much more can we please the Father when we love His children? If we are not loving our sisters in Christ, then we are not truly loving God. Take time to love your sister in Christ, even when it is difficult.
By Christa Bryant
Christa Bryant is married to Dewayne Bryant who is the minister at the Rush Springs church of Christ in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. She’s currently a stay-at-home mother to four beautiful girls, Haydn, Ava, Sophia, and Corinne. Christa is the author of The Treasured Woman: Profiles from Proverbs 31. She’s a graduate of Freed Hardeman University (2001) with a degree in English and Education. She grew up in the church and has been a Christian for 21 years.