We will stand out from our culture if we are consistently kind to everyone we meet, not just the Potentials. Not only that, we will stand out to a truly godly man who observes this impartial kindness in us. In doing so, we reflect our Savior. As J.C. Ryle once wrote in 1873:

“Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus” (John 11:5). This verse teaches us that Christ loves all who are true Christians. The characters of these three people seem to have been somewhat different. Of Martha, we are told in a certain place, that she was “anxious and troubled about many things,” while Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.” Of Lazarus we are told nothing distinctive at all. Yet all these were loved by the Lord Jesus. They all belonged to His family, and He loved them all.

We must carefully bear this in mind in forming our estimate of Christians. We must never forget that there are varieties in character, and that the grace of God does not cast all believers into one and the same mold. Admitting fully that the “foundations” of Christian character are always the same, and that all God’s children repent, believe, are holy, prayerful, and Scripture loving; we must make allowances for wide varieties in their temperaments and habits of mind. We must not undervalue others because they are not exactly like ourselves.      

The Lord’s Definition of Family

This generosity is not easy to cultivate, in my opinion. To grow in our sisterly affections, we must purposefully note and examine how we interact with our brothers. I didn’t grow up with natural brothers, so I’ve always thought of myself as hindered in this area.  But I don’t have to rely on my experience to shape this concept, for there is a Scripture passage I’ve found that’s concise and helpful for me. Matthew 12:46-50 says, “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’  And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (emphasis added).

The first concept I note here is the humility of Jesus in calling a broad range of sinful people His family. We have been adopted into His family because we are fellow sinners reconciled to God through what Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross. Thus, by grace, we are enabled to do the will of our Father in heaven. The second concept I take away from this passage is that this is how I can relate to each of my brothers. I can point them back to the will of our Father, thereby helping them bear fruit that glorifies God.  I’ve found I can apply this concept in three ways:

  • Observe them. In order to be intentional as a sister, I must take note of the men the Father has put in my life, from colleagues to Bible study members to church friends. It’s fun to observe the men we’re interested in, but it takes more effort to study and take note of other men. If we resolve to observe all of our brothers, then we easily can do the next two steps.

  • Encourage them. It’s not always effortless to do the will of the Father, especially in our current culture. But how refreshing to the soul it is to receive a timely word of “well done.” There’s a fine line between encouragement and flattery. If you are faithful to encourage many men, especially in the hearing of others, you will not confuse anyone about your intentions. For me, these two steps require that I shut my mouth in group contexts, and sit back to study what God is doing at that moment in the men around me. Often, I will find many things to comment on later -- from hearing a more reserved man bringing up a good point in a Bible study, to seeing a busy man offer to help someone move. Encouragement keeps people from growing weary in doing good deeds. Let’s be faithful to look for these reflections of God’s grace in these men’s lives and to comment on them as we see them doing the will of the Father.

  • Seek to see them conformed – not to your preferences, but to the image of Christ. This is what Doug was encouraging me to do. It’s not so much an active process, but an active concern. Our motivation should be care and concern when someone is not doing the will of the Father, and to humbly bring what we’ve observed and our questions about it (not judgments) to our brothers. 

It’s tempting as singles to simply avoid those people who irritate us or whose sin or weaknesses always seem to spill out whenever we’re around. But that’s not carrying a concern to see our brothers (and sisters) in the Lord grow and mature in Christ. If there’s something we don’t understand or that offends us, we should ask kindly about it, motivated by an understanding that we don’t know or see everything related to the situation. We should also trust that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings conviction for change, so our observations should initially and continually be in our prayers. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”