Genesis 13: We Are Brethren

“So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.’ (Genesis 13:8)

A problem arose in Genesis 13 between Abram and his nephew Lot. As the two prosperous men travelled with one another, their large herds began having trouble sharing resources. The herdsmen, charged with taking care of their respective flocks, began to argue with one another.

The solution to the problem, for Abram, was simple. He appealed to their most fundamental connection: family. The fact they were brethren meant they should have fond feelings for one another, be agreeable with one another, desire the very best for one another and be willing to work with one another, giving the other the benefit of the doubt.

The lessons of family love are the very first ones we learn in life, and they are crucial to unity in the Lord’s church. In the New Testament, the love between brethren in Christ finds its basis in love learned from family (the fact we call one another “brother” and “sister” should have given that away). It is a warm, accepting, tender and sacrificial love. John wrote in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer…” Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another….” He also wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Why are these verses understandable and relatable? Because “we are brethren.”

In the midst of our disagreements and even conflicts with brethren, we would do well to remember we are more than mere acquaintances. Because God is the Father of all those in Christ, we are universally brothers and sisters with one another. Conflicts among Christians come when brethren put aside this family love and embrace carnal thoughts and motivation. That’s the reason why of all sins listed New Testament, division and strife are the consistently and resoundingly condemned (Romans 16:17-18; 14:19; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:2-3; Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; 2 Timothy 2:14-16; etc.).

Love for one another, Jesus Himself taught in John 13:35, is to be the defining trait among His people. In a masterful stroke of genius, Satan has used our greatest tool of unity—a love for God’s truth—as the greatest weapon against us! But, all the grandstanding for truth we are capable of mustering does no good if we do not treat one another as brethren. When we gossip, judge and plot against one another, we may call ourselves Christians, but our actions reveal our hearts, and our hearts say otherwise. Sadly, brethren who say they love truth often fall for this timeless ploy, and the church is not the better off.

This is not to say that Christians do not disagree with one another, and sometimes strongly so. It is to say that even in those disagreements, brotherly love is to reign. The divine DNA code of 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 has rewritten our being. We don’t view our brethren in conflict as enemies to be vanquished, but brothers to be pitied and helped. We don't view our brethren in strife as those from which to walk away, but those to embrace and help. Too many brethren and churches forget this—and will one day have to answer for it. We are brethren, and God expects us to act accordingly.

Let’s apply this to our lives.