A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.…
(Sermon to Children): — Brotherly love should show itself —
I. In KINDNESS to each other. Love will have to get outlet. If I do not see brotherly kindness, I conclude that there is not brotherly love.
1. There will be kind words. In most families there are many unkind, scolding, fault finding, angry, irritating, coarse, uncourteous words. Not to speak of kindness, there is sometimes scarcely common civility. There is a rudeness — demanding things of each other — driving each other out of the way, etc., when, if a request were made politely, it would be so much better. I like to see children in a kindly way bidding each other "Good night," and again, greeting each other when they meet in the morning. All this would change the whole face of many a family circle. Though you may say it is but words, it would soon tell on everything else. And do not tell tales. A "tell-tale" is an ugly character (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 26:20, 22). Did you ever notice an echo? If you fire a gun, or sing, or whistle, or shout, or whisper, you get exactly what you give. And so it has passed into a proverb, "Kind words awaken kind echoes."
2. There will be kind looks, You know how much there is in a look — a displeased, angry, sulky, scornful, off-taking look. How they can vex and do a world of mischief! But if looks can do evil, they can also do good. There are kind, encouraging, comforting, winning looks. And just as "kind words produce kind echoes," so kind looks call forth a return in kind. You must have noticed what an effect the look you gave has sometimes had on a dog. In the case of an infant, how you can, without difficulty, make him either laugh or cry merely by a look. That tells what a look can do for good or evil. Others will look at you just as you look at them. You have looked into a mirror, and seen reflected there your own face. As you looked pleased or cross, so did it. Just so is it in a family.
3. There will be kind deeds. I have heard of a mother who was in the habit of asking her children, each night before they went to bed, what they had done that day to make others happy. It would be well for the members of each family to ask themselves that. How many little services of love you might render without being asked. Now, if you love each other you will pray for each other. This is one of the greatest of all kindnesses, as it is one of the most tender of all bonds, and will be likely to lead to all the rest.
II. In SYMPATHY for each other. To "sympathise" is to feel for, or rather with one. I have heard of a girl who, alter having lost a little brother, went back to school; and I have this account of her from one of her companions: "All the time she studied her lesson, she hid her face in her book and cried. I felt so sorry that I hid my face on the same book and cried with her. Then she looked up, and put her arms around my neck; but I do not know why she said I had done her so much good." It was the power of sympathy. When there is any trial, be it light or heavy, pressing on another's mind there is nothing you can give to be compared to sympathy. It is wonderful the effect of even inquiring for the sick one. I am sometimes amazed, in asking children about a little brother or sister who has been ill, when they say they "don't know!" Why do they not know? Had they lost their tongue, or had they not rather lost their heart? When your brother has got up in his class; when he has carried off a prize; when he has got some present; when his birthday has come round; when he is raised up from a sick bed — give him your hearty sympathy.
III. In SELF-DENIAL. Selfishness is the great cause of unhappiness in many homes. Where children are unselfish they must agree — they cannot fail to be happy. But the reverse meets us on every hand in most painful and humbling ways. I once offered a friend a copy of a little book for his three children. But, no. He said, "I must have three or none, otherwise there will be no satisfying them." I am not sure but they had even to be all of the same colour. Two of these books were thus very much thrown away. Now, it should not be so.
IV. In FORBEARANCE and PATIENCE. "Love suffereth long," etc. In every family there is much to annoy. But love enables one to bear a great deal, and keeps the wheels running smoothly. Especially is it the part of the elder members of the family to bear with the younger, as it is the duty of the younger to pay deference to the elder. You have got some unkind, rude, impudent thing said or done to you. Your first impulse is to pay the evildoer back in his own coin. Do you ask, "What should I do?" I say, Bear it. Try to be like God — "slow to wrath." Some one gives the advice to "count ten before you speak," when you are angry. Even in the worst case, "a soft answer turneth away wrath." There is a saying, "He begins the fight who strikes the second blow." That is true of the tongue as well as of the hand.
V. In FORGIVENESS. A mother can forgive when none else can because she loves. God can forgive when none else can, because He loves. And if we love like Him we shall forgive like Him. To be unforgiving, whether young or old, is one of the worst characters that could be given to one.
(J. H. Wilson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.