Brotherly love has many benefits. In Psalm 133 it is likened to oil and to dew. Like the oil, it is refreshing, and like the oil it spreads. Further, like the dew’s effect on vegetation, brotherly love through the Spirit’s blessing becomes a means of daily growth so that all the flowers that should be in the garden of our hearts will appear; these flowers are described in Galatians 5:22-23: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.’ In what ways will there be refreshing growth? There are several features of such growth that could be mentioned, but let me mention five.
The first feature of a united group of Christians is forgiveness. This is such an important outlook for Christians that Jesus teaches, in the Lord’s Prayer, that God withholds a sense of forgiveness from us if we refuse to forgive others. A Christian church is the community of the forgiven. Of course, each believer forgives because God has previously forgiven him and her.
A second feature of a united group of Christians is faithfulness or loyalty to one another. This loyalty is displayed in a number of ways, such as committed prayer for one another or resolving to help one another over the long haul. It is easy to begin a process, but only faithfulness will continue it.
A third feature of a united group is fellowship or sharing together. This can happen in practical ways, but there is more than that to Christian fellowship. We should share with one another what Jesus means to us, what discoveries we have made of him; we can share encouraging promises that we have discovered in the Bible. Our aim is to be like those described in Malachi 3:16: ‘Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.’
A fourth benefit of a united group is stronger faith or strengthened assurance. Sharing together in the things of Christ stimulates one another. Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that even their words should minister grace to one another (Ephesians 4:29: ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear’). A united church possesses a great basis for mutual upbuilding.
The fifth feature of a united group of believers is that their togetherness is a foretaste of heaven. One of the joys of heaven is the reunion that will occur, of the meeting together of all God’s people down the ages. When a group of diverse ethnic, economic and age backgrounds meet together now in the church, it enjoys the blessing of God in an increased manner because these blessings are foretastes of the heavenly experience.