Like the other poems written in this series, The Purpose-Driven Life, the idea for it was derived from the scriptures found in a particular chapter of the book. In this case, it was chapter 23.
This poem has the distinction of being the first poem (of mine) written with either three or four syllables in the first and third lines. All of my stuff either ends on an up-note (ta - TUM), or a down-note (ta - TA - tum). But, this is the first to throw in an extra syllable (ta -TA - ta - tum), taking those lines to 13 syllables.
While I was writing it, the working title for it had been Brotherly Love or something, I don't really remember. Suddenly, the final line happened, quickly and unexpectedly, and that changed everything.
The Art of Brotherly Love
Based on James 3:18; Ephesians 4:3; Galatians 6:1-2; Ephesians 4:25; 1 Timothy 5:1-2; 1 Corinthians 5:3-12; 1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 16:28; Romans 5:2; Romans 12:10
Develop a healthy and robust community,
one that is centered around God — alone.
When treating each other with honor and dignity,
you'll reap the harvest you richly have sown.
In peace through the Spirit, together in unity;
make every effort to live in this way.
If one of you errors and sins with impunity,
gently pursue them without a delay.
Choose truth over pretense and speak with sincerity;
we are Christ's body, connected as one.
When we favor lying instead of integrity,
we cheat ourselves when its all said and done.
Speak gently to women of years soft and motherly,
treat the old men as the father you knew.
Engage with young men in a manner that's brotherly,
maidens as if they were sisters to you.
Do not look away, hoping problems will disappear,
deal with them openly out in the light;
assuming the issue's so small to act cavalier,
thinking it surely will turn out alright.
You cannot ignore those whose lives are promiscuous,
flippant to God's ways or rude to their friends.
Their greed and their drunkenness can't be continuous,
with love and firmness it all has to end.
When coming together, be clothed in humility;
God shuns the proud — gives the humbled his grace.
Turn rumor and gossip around to civility;
speak in their absence as you would their face.
We must bear the "burden" of being considerate;
empathy's easier shared with one heart.
Devotion to family is often deliberate;
practice makes perfect since love is an art.
James 3:18 (Msg)
You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
Ephesians 4:3 (NCV)
You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.
Galatians 6:1-2 (NCV)
Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.
Ephesians 4:25 (Msg)
No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 (GWT)
Never use harsh words when you correct an older man, but talk to him as if he were your father. Talk to younger men as if they were your brothers, older women as if they were your mothers, and younger women as if they were your sisters.
1 Corinthians 5:3-12 (Msg)
You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it . . . . Better devastation and embarrassment than damnation . . . . You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that . . . . you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers?
1 Peter:5:5b (NIV)
Clothe yourself with humility toward one another.
1 Peter 5:5c (NIV)
. . . because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Proverbs 16:28 (TEV)
Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.
Romans 15:2 (LB)
We must bear the “burden” of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others.
Romans 12:10 (GWT)
Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other.
MSG: The Message • NCV: New Century Version • GWT: God's Word Translation • NIV: New International Version • TEV: Today's English Version • LB: Living Bible