Love as Brethren

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.1 Peter 3:8

When Denise and I first got married, I got upset with her one day over something very silly. Such a small issue shouldn’t have upset me, but I was just beginning to learn how to be a husband, and Denise was learning to be a wife. As often happens when a couple first gets married, we got our wires crossed and misunderstanding resulted. And on this particular occasion, I allowed myself to get all worked up over nothing!

That day I sternly reprimanded Denise for what had transpired. Even though I knew I was raising my voice and speaking in a tone that wasn’t exactly kind, it was almost as if I had tapped into a volcano on the inside of me. I felt like I was about to explode. I knew that if I didn’t get a grip on myself, I would soon be saying overblown, angry words that I would later regret. It was suddenly clear to me that I was allowing the devil to blow this thing all out of proportion in my mind. So in order to get control of my emotions, I walked away and found a place where I could pray.

When I got alone with the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Would you speak with that tone of voice to any other woman at the church?”

I said, “No, I would never speak to any of the other women in the church the way I just spoke to my wife. Even if they did something very wrong and made me angry, I would treat them with courtesy simply because they are my sisters in Christ.”

The Holy Spirit answered, “Well, not only is Denise your wife, she is your sister in Christ. From this moment forward, even if you are upset with her, show her the same respect you would show any other sister.”

That word from the Holy Spirit changed my life. Denise was my sister in Christ before we got married, and the fact is, she is still my sister in Christ even though we are now joined together as husband and wife. If for no other reason, I should speak to her graciously and with dignity simply out of respect for her as my sister in the Lord. This shed new light for me on Peter’s words in First Peter 3:8, where he said that husbands and wives are to “love as brethren.”

The words “love as brethren” are from the Greek word philadelphia, a compound of the words philos and adelphos or adelphia. The word philos describes friendship and carries the idea of affection and a profound love for someone who is dear. The words adelphos and adelphia are the Greek words for a brother and a sister, respectively. When philos is compounded with one of these two words, the compound word means to love as a brother or to love as a sister.

It may seem strange to some that Peter tells husbands and wives to love as brethren. But the fact is, this is the most eternal part of the marriage relationship.

For instance, when Denise and I eventually go to Heaven, we will no longer be husband and wife, but we will be brother and sister in Christ. During our journey here on earth, we have partnered together as a marital team. I thank God that He joined me to Denise in this life in this particular relationship. But our long-term status and our most vital relationship is as a brother and sister in Christ. That aspect of our relationship will last throughout eternity.

So if you are ever tempted to get upset with your believing spouse, remember that he or she is first your brother or sister in the Lord. Then give your mate the same courtesy you would give any other brother or sister in the Christian community!

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, please forgive me for the times I have spoken wrongly to my spouse. Help me to never take my spouse for granted again, but to always remember that if for no other reason, I should speak kindly to my mate out of respect for his (or her) position in Christ. I admit I’ve done wrong in the way I’ve spoken to my mate in the past. I know I wouldn’t speak that way to anyone else in the church. Please help me to love my spouse as one of my brethren in the Lord and to reverence the Holy Spirit who lives in him (or her).

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I confess that I treat my spouse as a brother (or sister) in Christ. I speak to my spouse with respect; I reverence the Spirit of God who lives inside him (or her); and I honor my mate as a part of the Body of Christ. As God works in me and transforms me day by day, I am becoming more controlled and more temperate in the way I relate to my spouse. I don’t fly off the handle with him (or her) and say things that are unacceptable to say to a brother or sister in Christ.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

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Questions to Answer

1. Can you honestly say that you treat your spouse with the same respect you show to other brothers or sisters in your local church?

2. Would you ever allow yourself to fly off the handle and indulge in an outburst of anger with brothers and sisters at church as you do with your spouse?

3. If you have treated your spouse with less respect than you show toward other people, don’t you think it’s time for you to first repent before God and then to ask your spouse for forgiveness and ask him (or her) to pray with you about this problem?