Hermana – My Sister
By Glynnis Whitwer

“Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1b-2 (NIV)

We were ushered into a two-room hut; our feet shuffled on the hard-packed dirt floor. A tin roof, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling, and no running water clearly testified to the financial hardships this family faced. The Americans in the group smiled awkwardly, unsure of whether to look around the room, at the home owners, or at our Ecuadorian guide, Omar.

“Hermano y hermana” our guide and translator spoke in gentle tones, as he extended a hand of greeting. “Brother and sister” Omar said in Spanish, “thank you for welcoming us into your home.” The ice broken, we all relaxed and enjoyed a brief time of getting to know this hard-working family whose daughter was part of the Compassion International project in Quito.

That trip in to the poverty-stricken section of Quito was eye-opening in many ways. But the memory of the love and dignity our guides (there were others besides Omar) showed to the families of the “proyecto” – the poorest of poor - dominates all others for me.

Each visit we made to the project families began with the same greeting: “Brother” or “Sister.” A single word leveled all differences between the giver and recipient of help, between nationalities and between broad economic and educational divides. A single word reminded us we were family, with all the privileges and responsibilities inherent. One heavenly Father – many brothers and sisters.

As I go about my busy life, I can easily forget to treat others as family. It’s quicker to sneak in and out of church without stopping to offer a hug of greeting or a word of encouragement to those around me. It’s even easier during the week to neglect to show familial love to my sisters and brothers in Christ. My blinders slip on and I view life with tunnel vision.

However, through our adoption as daughters and sons of God, we have been ushered into a huge family called the church. The church is not a building – the church is my family. Every person sitting in my church service is related to me through the blood of Jesus. He may be a man brought on a bus from a rehab center, but he is also my brother. She may be a single mom barely hanging on, but she is also my sister. The lonely widower, the brokenhearted professional, the grief-stricken father, the tattooed teenager … brother, sister, brother, sister.

I have a high calling to treat my fellow Christians as if we were related, because we are. Perhaps we might cultivate more love and compassion among us if we adopted the language of my Ecuadorian friend. No, not Spanish. The language of family. How does that sound “mi hermana”?

Dear Lord, thank You for giving me such a big and wonderful family of brothers and sisters. Help me to see fellow believers in a new light. Help me respond to my friends as a sister would. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Support a child through Compassion International

Welcome to Community: Experiencing Life the Way God Intended by Brian Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Visit Glynnis’ blog

Application Steps:
Identify one friend who has a birthday coming up soon. Purchase a birthday card addressed to “Sister,” and send it to her. Write a note inside the card explaining your commitment to her as a sister in Christ.

Although members of some churches greet each other as family, most do not. Why do you think this is?

What are some of the best traits of brothers and sisters? If you don’t have siblings, think on some of the best examples you have seen.

What would you do differently if you saw fellow Christians as your sisters and brothers?

Power Verses:
Mark 3:35, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (NIV)

Psalm 133:1, “It is good and pleasant when God's people live together in peace!” (NCV)

Hebrews 13:1, “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.” (NLT)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post! Yes, we are called to community...not to isolation. What a powerful and humbling reminder to us that the family of Christ extends beyond the parameters of our local congregations to include those in all walks of life.

One of the greatest "communities" I get to experience each week is the group of women that gather for Bible study from various churches in the area. We are finishing up a study tomorrow evening, and as a way of closing, I made each girl a small token of remembrance of our time together. Included with the "token" are scrapbooking stickers that have a saying refering to our "sisterhood" (i.e. "best friends", "sister and friend", etc.).

They are mine "hermanas" and they are life to me. I am grateful for the privilege of serving alongside them in this season of living.

Thank you for the heartfelt reminder.


Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

You got my attention by using the phrase "high calling." And this idea really hit home with me: "It’s even easier during the week to neglect to show familial love to my sisters and brothers in Christ."

Why do we struggle with this? You'd think it would be easier for everyone if we acted the same way all the time. Worshipping God in all that we do--whether we are sitting in a pew, sitting in a hut, sitting on our couch, or sitting at a desk.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there

Is there such a thing as "too much inspiration" of somebody else? If you find that you always want to be like that person and would like to be able to do the things she does, and finally the other person sees it and finds it grieviously upsetting. How do you confront such a problem and how do you tell that person how you really feel, without making her angry or even taking you as enemy or hate you for forever for your wrong. How do you make her understand that you did that becuase of the beauty that she carries and that you desired to have that same beauty...

My dearest friends are truly my sisters. Any time I meet another Christian I can sense that we are 'family'. :O)

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

I would like to respond to my dear sister who asked about having "too much inspiration" of another. The healthy part of admiring each other is when it inspires us to be more like Jesus. Hopefully what we see reflected in those we admire is a Christ-like quality.

The danger in keeping our eyes on anyone besides Jesus is when we miss out on becoming uniquely ourselves. God created each of us with a distinct combination of personality, emotions, physical and natural strengths and spiritual gifts. Our challenge is to discover and embrace that unique combination while becoming more like Christ.

Perhaps another danger in being too inspired by another person is that they might become an idol in our lives. In other words, do they ever take the place of God? Would you ever care more about their opinion than God's opinion? Would you ever turn to them for comfort instead of turning to God? This is a difficult question to ask, and even harder to answer. But unfortunately, we live in a society where we idolize others, so it's very easy to do.

The caution here is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We are to long for the things of God, and not of man. "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33 NIV.

In His Love,

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