Do Our Brethren Really Care?

Now there are times when we ask ourselves, Do our brethren really care? Perhaps we have some interest or desire to do something for the Lord, and we feel like all we get from our brethren is discouragement rather than encouragement, criticism instead of support. Let’s turn to the Scriptures for some lessons and guidance to help us through situations like these.
Jesus and His Earthly Parents
The Word of God records one incident in the life of the Lord Jesus when He was twelve years old, and it relates exactly to our subject. Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. When it was time to return home, they traveled for a day before they realized that “the child Jesus” (Luke 2:4343And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. (Luke 2:43)) was not with them; they supposed “Him to have been in the company” (vs. 44) but didn’t bother to check for sure. They returned to Jerusalem to search for Him and found Him after three days. His mother reprimanded Him: “Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing” (vs. 48).
The way the Lord Jesus responded to this situation is very instructive. First, He answered them — those who were responsible for Him as His parents—respectfully according to the true desires of His heart. “Why is it that ye have sought Me? did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in My Father’s business?” (vs. 49 JND). While they did not know what He meant (vs. 50), the burden on His heart He shared in fellowship with His Father.
Second, He lived in proper obedience and submission to His earthly relationships at that time in His life. “He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them” (vs. 51). Our “Father’s business” will never take us outside of or cause us to violate the relationships and responsibilities in which God has placed us. Men in relation to their employers and their brethren in the assembly, women in connection with their husbands, young people in relation to their parents and others in the assembly—each one of us can fulfill the burdens on our hearts and carry out our present work for the Lord — our “Father’s business”—in the context of those relationships without having to be insubmissive to them.
The Lord Jesus, when they found Him in the temple, was not teaching the doctors; He was “both hearing them, and asking them questions” (vs. 46). Such was the fitting demeanor for a boy of His age. Evidently they must have also asked Him some questions, perhaps when they were unable to answer His questions, “and all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (vs. 47). When we keep within the sphere in which the Lord has placed us, the burdens and the gifts that He has given us will be manifest to those around us.
Third, “His mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (vs. 51). The testimony of Jesus’ lips did not go unnoticed by His mother Mary. Though the incident itself was an annoyance to her at the time—having to take all that extra time to make the return journey to their home — yet in her heart she recognized that Jesus’ answer was deliberate and contained meaningful significance. His words and His actions were recorded in her heart for future use and blessing.
Fourth, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (vs. 52). The results in Jesus’ personal life are beautiful. They are personal, both inward (“wisdom”) and outward (“stature,” or age or size); they are also towards others (“favor with God and man”). The favor is with God first and man second: God should have the first place in everything (Col. 1:1818And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)). In every way, the example of the Lord Jesus as a boy of twelve teaches us valuable lessons as to how we should behave when we face similar situations in our lives.
Joseph With His Family
We find the same pattern in the life of Joseph. As a teenager, God gave him two dreams that foretold the future, not only for him and his family, but also prophesying about the Lord Jesus and His relationships with the church and the nation of Israel. Yet, when Joseph shared his dreams with his father and his brothers, they were totally unable to appreciate their significance. In fact, they prompted envy and hatred from his brothers (Gen. 37:5,8,115And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. (Genesis 37:5)
8And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. (Genesis 37:8)
11And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. (Genesis 37:11)
) and rebuke from his father (vs. 10).
How did Joseph act in the face of such pressure? He was subject to his father, and he continued to seek the welfare of his brothers (vss. 13-17). He paid dearly for such faithfulness — we well know the painful heartaches and trials that befell the path of this dear young man. But he counted it of utmost importance to honor God and obey Him in everything, and in the end he was amply rewarded. Nowhere in the entire Old Testament can we find a more beautiful type of our Lord Jesus Christ than in the life of Joseph.
Notice what it says about Jacob in connection with Joseph’s dreams: “His father observed the saying” (vs. 11). Isn’t this similar to what we read about Mary — “His mother kept all these sayings in her heart”? When we live in obedience and faithfulness to God and His Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, demonstrating the joy and peace that fill our soul and our spirit, all those around us —our parents, our siblings, our brethren, including those who are older than us — will record in their hearts what they observe. Their care may not be immediately obvious. But in time, those whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of Christ manifested in His people will testify to the blessing they have received, and it will be evident that their care and affection are genuine.